Choosing the Trees in Your Life
Let’s talk about details. Let’s talk about the day-to-day tasks and the things that fill the minutes of your waking life. Let’s talk about everything that makes your life full. Life happens in the details. Depending on the content, you can feel fulfilled and joyful, or you can feel busy and overwhelmed. Do you feel as if you decide what happens each day and your life is shaped by your identity? Or do you feel as if you have no control over what happens? In either case, you might benefit from the awareness that you have the power to refine and streamline to move toward living your purpose. After all, when is it not a good time to edit your life?
This is a huge discussion. I mean, we’re talking about the forest and the trees. My pursuit over the last few years has been identifying the “trees” that I want to see during my walk through the “forest.” Following my analogy? As you journey through the forest of your life, you have the power to choose the trees: those things that fill your days. Have you already begun to choose? If so, I want your voice. Let’s discuss in the comments here or over on Facebook.
This post is a jumping off point for this huge Edit Your Life discussion. Let’s call this an introduction to a series on how to refine and streamline. In the end, this blog is to help us all figure out how to live a life as much as possible on purpose and finding joy and fulfillment more often than not. Here you’ll find some ideas about how you can get started with the editing process and stop standing in your own way.
Like the universe that this conversation represents, it will grow.
Edit Your Stuff
Minimalism as a concept represents the ultimate in editing. It applies to many aspects of our lives, but it comes up most as an approach to the physical space of our lives. This will become a series in itself as we discuss clutter and organization, beauty and style as the premise for refining and streamlining your stuff, the never-ending stream of mail, wardrobe choices, and keeping collections. What feelings and ideas come up for you when you hear the term minimalism?
Edit Your Thoughts
Your approach to life has everything to do with your actions, but your thoughts and feelings about the past might obscure that. How much time are you spending rehashing past interactions? Of that, how much is colored with negative emotions? How much anger is coming up? You already know that those angry feelings that fester into long-held resentments are only bad for you. These resentments poison your present and future and rob you of the possibility of joy and fulfillment.
Spoiler: forgiveness is the answer. Unfortunately, forgiveness often eludes even the most well-meaning people. The concept of forgiveness is widely preached, but the skills of forgiveness are rarely taught. Is it any wonder that children don’t like to say sorry, when we only offer them the words of forgiveness and not the why? Most of us have to figure it out over time. When you finally begin to grasp it, you realize that it’s a skill we all need to learn and practice. So, where are you at with forgiveness? Do you look forward to soothing a smoldering resentment by giving it some forgiving attention?
Next, our thoughts and feelings about the past bring us to our thoughts and feelings about the future. How much time are you spending acting out potential happenings and game plans in your head? Dreaming is the positive, hopeful, beautiful version of that, and you can get too wrapped up in that. But worry is the anxious, fearful, painful version of attempting to live in the future. And it offers no benefits. Nothing ever happens in the future. Everything happens now. So what are you doing spending so much time worrying about a time with which you can never interact? What can you do right now to resolve that nagging worry? Either do it, or let it go and take a deep breath of your now.
Stress is caused by being here but wanting to be there, or being in the present but wanting to be in the future. It’s a split that tears you apart inside. — Eckhart Tolle
Edit Your Commitments
Just Say No
Or, just say yes, mindfully. If your life is filled with commitments that you dislike or dread, they likely feature prominently because you said yes to other people’s priorities. Saying yes to others is a kind of generosity and it often feels good. However, if saying yes has created a “busy” life of things you really don’t want to do, of trees you don’t want to see on your walk through the forest everyday, you might need to learn the skill of saying no. Saying yes too much has the effect of overburdening your time and overwhelming your mind. Have you ever tried to walk through a forest so dense you can barely pass through the trees and underbrush? It’s difficult, slow going, frustrating, and often frightening.
Create a path of ease, by saying no. Cut down on the commitments, especially your least favorite. The only way to begin saying no, is to do it! Before you say yes to the next request for your time, consider “Does this move me toward living my purpose?” Or even easier, “Will I enjoy this use of my time, and am I willing to submit to this person’s expectation that this activity will now become my responsibility?” If your heart and mind say no, be Brave and let the word fall out. “No.” The more you say no and mindfully say yes, the more you will enjoy each day and move into your purpose. Live by design by valuing your own time. What do you want to lovingly say “no” to today?
Finally, editing the relationships in your life relates to saying yes, mindfully. Your relationships in life, characterize your most important legacy. The lasting value you create will be determined by the give and take with others each day. If you don’t love the people you see each day, it’s up to you to edit your relationships and prioritize the people you see and serve on a regular basis. Who do you love to support, serve, and say yes to?
Edit Your Life: Begin the Process
In conclusion, as you move through editing your life and move toward living in your purpose, simply move forward. There are so many steps in a life. Some steps will be more efficient and get you to your goals faster, but your life isn’t better if you wait for the “right” steps, the perfect timing and choices. Any small step will be better than succumbing to the paralysis of considering the unlimited number of options and challenges in life. So go for good, not perfect.
We need to forgive ourselves for not being perfect
so that we can enable ourselves to be good. — Seth Godin
As I ruminate on these topics, you’ll see links show up on this page. Subscribe to the blog and follow me on Facebook to get notifications of new posts and join in the discussion. What do you want to talk about first? How will you start to edit your life?