Welcome to my blog, where you'll find substantive, well-researched articles that blend neuroscience, philosophy, poetry, personal reflection, and the latest life coaching tools in service of helping people engage their full potential.
To practice one’s pleasure (I do believe pleasure, like love, is a practice we can and must cultivate) in service of a life that’s all-in is above all an act of exquisite vulnerability, because at the heart of what’s pleasing about pleasure is honesty; pleasure is not something we can fake. It’s not a performance. When we inhabit our pleasure we exhale into our authentic selves. We are laying aside self-consciousness and worries about what others think, and we are, for however brief a moment, suspended in oneness with life itself. We are bared. We are open.
This is why nothing hurts quite like being rejected while inhabiting our pleasure—nothing, that is, except living in fear of such rejection and therefore deciding over time that our pleasure doesn’t matter, or worse, that it’s a contagion.
When we make a mantra out of overcoming our comfort zones in search of our best selves, we predicate transformation on a lie: that we don't like to strive, that thriving is hard, and that it doesn't feel good. (All of which feels surprisingly and interestingly Puritan, don't you think?)
In contrast, I'd like to suggest that we drop the rhetoric of the "comfort zone" and cut to the chase, call it what it really is: the zone of fear.
When we're stuck, spinning our wheels, not sure how we got here but quite sure we don't want to stay, we're not comfortable—we're afraid.
This year, the coming of fall means the advent of intention. As the Buddha once said, the whole of conscious life unfolds on the tip of intention. And I want my intention to be strong, focused, and clear--just like the bright fall air, the cool mornings and crystalline skies. I want to wake every day with an overarching vision of what it is that I want, above all else, to feel--in my body, my mind, and in my interactions with others. I want to light my bedside candle each night and write, with a sense of gratitude and excitement, about what I created that day, what I learned, what surprised me, and whose support I'm so grateful for that I could weep.
I love that the path-of-deepest-darkness, which is also the path-of-longest-duration, is called the path of totality: as I write, people are hurrying towards this 73-mile-wide band that at once bisects and unifies the nation, not horizontally or vertically, but diagonally, from coast to coast, propelled and bound by that which makes us capable of evolving into our highest (total) potential as a species: curiosity and wonder. Wonder and curiosity are the seeds of innovation, awe, and reverence, which in turn spore connection, love, and redemption.
Could we, then, in the wake of the heinous hate crimes proliferating both at home and abroad, witness a timelier natural phenomenon?
Could we, while navigating our own messy lives—our griefs, longings, addictions, mourning, regrets, shames, and sorrows—pay homage to a more significant natural act?
Over time, the curiosity that once propelled us effortlessly outward (into conversation with strangers, contact with insects and animals, imaginary worlds, woods and streams, tidal pools and marshes, empty lots, dumps, alleys, abandoned buildings, and forts erected from the refuse of neighborhood curbs) often becomes inverted and internalized: primary questions that once led us into exploration and wonder are often replaced by questions about our own belonging, our worthiness, and our competence. What will I discover here? becomes Who am I to want more? How can I figure this out? gives way to What’s wrong with me?
By mid-life we might feel pulled apart by these seemingly antagonist energies: the quest to learn and grow, on the one hand, and the fear of doing so, on the other.
Either way, I can tell you that, if recognized and harnessed, this tension (often felt in our bodies as acute discomfort) can be a very good thing: it's the symptom of untapped potential. Of your aliveness. It's your gateway to growth, to healing, to intimacy, to innovation, and purposeful service to others.
The problem isn't the tension itself between curiosity and self-criticism, but the way we perpetuate competition between them by inhabiting one at the cost of the other.
Humans are hardwired to focus on the hard stuff at the expense of the positive. The scientific name for this phenomenon is negativity bias: back when prey lurked in the bushes, it behooved one to assume the worst about a rustle or a foreign sound. Consequently, our brains evolved to notice and easily recall that which we perceive as a threat above and before that which doesn’t. Today, the negativity bias, and its amped-up cousin, anxiety, rarely serve us in ways they once did; there’s a gap, for the majority of humans alive today, between this aspect of our neurology and our lived reality. Indeed, what once saved us is now killing us.
The Voice of More is that soft, whispery voice deep inside that flickers into consciousness—more…more…—when we’re driving, walking the dog, falling asleep, just waking up—that is, in those in-between moments when our minds aren’t habitually occupied with thoughts and plans and to-do lists. Sometimes the voice is assertive and persistent: Is this it? Is this all there is? Sometimes it’s slippery and subtle … There’s something missing… But in all instances, what I know to be true is that The Voice of More doesn’t stop.