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.
The experience of epiphany is, more than anything, an act of radical belonging: in its midst we learn that confusion is a symptom of over-steeping in the known, a failure of curiosity. We discover that true freedom—that sudden sensation of clear-seeing—is achieved not through isolation, not by stepping-away and seeing anew, but by climbing into the palm of what beckons from beyond and finding we've always lived there.
Like the mechanism of the beating heart, or the process of birth shared by all mammals, creativity is born not by way of unwavering action, but through the pulse of contraction: surges of energy born on the back of quiet periods that appear, to the observer, so still as to be lifeless: the winter tree shorn of leaves, the tangle of brittle stalks upon which last year’s peonies balanced and billowed, the birthing woman sunk in sudden sleep between the volcanic heaves of her womb’s sharp cinch and release.
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.
Am I (with the best of intentions!) gearing up to survivethis season? Or am I setting myself up to thrive?
Maybe the answer to this question is obvious to you, but if you're like me, you're not always sure; survival-mind is so deeply normalized by our culture today that we often don't realize when we're caught in its grip. Hyper-consumption (the f.o.m.o. fomented by Black Friday, Cyber Monday... the belief that eating and drinking well past the point of our body's comfort or health means we're in sync with the "holiday spirit"...), overspending and over-commitment, and habitual people-pleasing are just a few ways in which we perpetuate and naturalize survival-mindset, that deep-grooved network of beliefs that whispers there's not enough, more is better, and that's just the way it is.
You know you're in survival mindset if you're bracing for the days ahead. You know you're in survival mindset if you're letting yourself off the hook with regard to self-care (eating well, sleeping enough, honoring your boundaries and priorities) in the name of being festive, fun, a "good friend" or a "good host." You know you're in survival mindset if you're striving for perfection, if you're spending more time thinking about what others will think of your efforts than you spend enjoying those efforts along the way, and if you're responding to feelings of overwhelm by shifting into auto-pilot, that slightly numb state of being in which we tell ourselves that the delayed reward of "getting it all done" justifies the edgy cortisol high we're riding through a sea of seemingly endless tasks.
Do you feel like you start your days on purpose, with a calm, clear vision of what you want to feel, want to create, want to give, and want to receive? Or do you feel like you start your days on autopilot, rushed and scattered, as if your life is somehow driving the bus and you're in the back, scrambling to pick up the notebooks you dropped as you hurried to find your seat?
If you're like most of the people I work with, your mornings look more like the latter than the former. And that feeling--of being at the mercy of, rather than in control of your life--can, if left unchecked, siphon your confidence, self-trust, motivation, and--worst of all--your ability to dream.
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'm afraid. Actually, I'm terrified. When it comes right down to it, I'm scared to death of that TED talk. Of writing the book that's going to bare my story to the world. Of claiming once and for all my message, not only the message I now preach but the message that's calling to me, that's urging me into and through the maw of uncertainty to where I haven't yet been but want—need—to go. Of creating so much momentum and energy around what I'm doing that daydreaming for hours on end about what I'm not doing is no longer an option.
Do your own dreams oppress you? Do you swing between feeling exhilarated by them and totally daunted? Do you find all kinds of ways to let yourself off the hook from your commitments, from the things you know will make you feel better, more productive, healthier, and more alive? I get it, if so. I've been there, believe me. But you don't have to choose between a comfortable (less fearful, less anxious) life half-lived and a life fully expressed (and borne on the back of panic attacks). In fact, this choice is an illusion. A delusion manufactured by the primitive parts of our brain that are grooved to keep us safe, risk-averse, and close to "home."
As I watched these new mentors of mine throughout the weekend, I kept thinking “okay, this is what it looks like—what it feels like—to accept yourself, all of yourself.” Not because you think you’re flawless, but because you’ve finally learned that self-loathing is the ultimate block to personal (and thus cultural) evolution, and not, as we too often believe, a catalyst to growth.
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.