Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Practicing Courage No Matter What

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. 

- Maya Angelou

What matters at the end of the day is that no matter what, we do the thing.

This is what courage is all about- it's about doing the thing we want/need/crave/desire/_____(you fill in the blank) no matter what state we are in. Even if it means taking the next small step, we do the thing. Courage is built in the small acts strung together, day in and day out.

I know for a fact that if I made how I feel a condition for practicing courage and doing the next thing I know I need to do in my heart, then I wouldn't get anything done.

Last winter I did an intensive workshop over a few month period that explored Brene Brown's work, ideas and developed practices of "Daring Greatly" and there was a whole section devoted to really honing in on the values that matter most. Creating a list of your top values is definitely an activity I suggest doing. What it does is it gets you super clear on how you want to kick butt in this world each day. This is a very powerful guiding force. Our values are the framework that give purpose and meaning to our actions, goals and pursuits.

After doing the workshop, what emerged for me as my top three values was "Love, Courage and Integrity." I know that every day, those are the values I practice. When I was developing my core values list, I knew right away that Courage was gonna be there no matter what. Courage is central to my life philosophy and beliefs and is undeniably married to our ability to grow. It takes courage to love with our whole heart, even when there are no guarantees. And it takes courage to practice integrity and walk the talk. I decided that courage is absolutely essential to my living a wholehearted life and if its the doorway to all other virtues, I would commit to it as a daily practice.

No matter what.

The photo above was taken right before I went skydiving last year. Was I scared? Fuck yeah.
The bottom line was that although fear was present, it wasn't the guiding force. The guiding force was my commitment to courage no matter what. That's what get's me out of bed in the morning.

I've traveled quite a few times in the past few years and I still get nervous before each trip. Every single damn time. The key is really to accept whatever emotion or state we are in when we make a decision, but decide and do the thing anyway. Valuing courage demands that we keep the momentum through consistent practice.

It doesn't need to be a big thing. Courage can often be found in the intricate web of our daily lives in the small acts and leaps of faith we take. There have been many days where I've woken up and although I knew mentally that engaging with the day is how I grow, generate happiness and find the opportunities, I didn't feel like doing anything. This is where we need to act before we are ready. It may feel counter-intuitive but the truth is that making changes requires engagement and action, even if it's the smallest of steps we take. Every time I took "the step" it created momentum. I've never had regrets.

This is why courage is a practice. It asks that we do the thing, practice the small disciplines, take the risks and move.

Take the step. You know what step is next and what you need to do. Trust yourself and do the thing. Then watch your world unfold.

Monday, 14 December 2015

The Choice I'll Never Regret

The choice I'll never regret is this:
Investing in myself. Investing in myself comes from my deep commitment to personal growth.

Growing up, I felt it was selfish to take time for myself. But as I got older and got to know people who are really moving forward in their lives and making a difference, I realized that it's the only way I will grow, get clear and be truly able to contribute beyond myself.

We all need personal growth to be happy, alive and fulfilled in our lives.

I've been intentional about what I've committed to and followed my heart. Every place I've traveled to has caused me to grow massively. Travel really is an education of it's own. From trips to Israel and England in 2013, to San Diego in 2014 and North Carolina and Miami in 2015, each trip has given me more. Made me more.

Most of us enroll in formal education. If you are and loving your program, congratulations! You're bang on. But if University if not for you, there are so many other certification programs that can change your life. Maybe they won't be your final career choice, but if you're feeling the desire to do a yoga certification or coaching course, do it. It might be the very stepping stone you need to get more clear. Is there a leader or business owner you look up to who offers a course? Take it! Do your research, get recommendations from people you trust and invest your money wisely, but invest.

For the past four years, reading has also had a huge impact on my personal growth and level of focus. Reading books or blogs by people who have experienced life and gained knowledge is a great way to open our eyes to more perspective and options. Finding role models who inspire us and absorbing the content they offer is incredibly inspiring.

There is also something to be said for investing beyond our basic responsibilities when it comes to our work. At the moment I am mentoring a group of young girls in life skills and self-esteem. Even though it is a volunteer opportunity, it has added more wholeness to my life. Volunteering is not about the money, but we grow, meet people, find more purpose in our lives and may become more clear on next steps or receive an opportunity to make money through volunteering. So as I said, never a waste.

If it's something that grows you into a better person, it's worth your time.

Enrolling in therapy or coaching is also always worth it. We all need healing and support at different points in our lives. There are many people, groups and programs out there designed to provide the tools and resources for healing and clarity. When it comes to getting help, reaching out may not be easy, but its always worth it. The truth is that if we don't do our own work, we can't truly be there for others. We need to start with ourselves.

If it's something that aligns with your passion, if it's something you feel you need, do it. Take time to build yourself. You wont regret it. I promise.

Friday, 4 December 2015

The Power of Gratitude: Changing Lives Err' Day

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/b7/8b/f3/b78bf32467e04550450167e265fd8cb9.jpgAs I sit here at my local Tim Hortons sipping on my coffee, I literally revel in gratitude. The focusing on and practicing of gratitude has literally changed my life, shifted negative moods and created ripples of expanding positive energy to affect my actions, decisions and relationships.

The main point to grasp about this practice is the way it works and how powerful it can be. We know that what we focus on grows. When we focus on positive thoughts, when we think about what we love, what feels good and what we're excited about, it grows. It builds momentum from the point we've decided to focus on. It expands. We feel fulfilled and inspired.  

And really, we didn't necessary need to change the circumstances of our lives to get here.

Our culture often emphases the idea that somehow, we are not enough, we don't have enough or are not doing enough. Without critical awareness, we can easily get caught up in the idea that we need to lose weight or be in a relationship to be enough. That we need to have more stuff or accomplish more. This mindset is a vicious cycle that perpetuates itself as we run away from our worthiness and this present moment.  

Our happiness demands that we slow down and engage in practices, such as gratitude, that bring us to who we are now, in this present moment and how enough we are right now.

Gratitude is a practice that causes us to stop running and chasing and start feeling the fullness of our lives and celebrating what we do have. From this place, we stop desperately chasing "something more" and we are able to live our lives and pursue our goals from a more grounded, peaceful space.

In order to reap the benefits of practicing gratitude, we need to do it.
Err' single day.
"Doing" gratitude means writing down what we are grateful for (on paper, in a journal or on your phone) and speaking it by telling the people in our lives how much we appreciate them and why. It means looking at your bank account and saying thank you. Thank you for providing me the means to continue living my life and doing what I want. It means noticing how lucky we are to be living in a safe country, to be healthy and alive and able to engage in the opportunities we come across.

The more specific you can be, the better.
Its not about having big things to be grateful for either, it's actually more about noticing the small things that happen so often yet we are so caught up in needing the big things that we miss the small things.

The small things add up to the big things. Notice them. 
You will feel more present.

Practicing gratitude has shifted my perspective. So many times. Literally shifted how I feel within hours or even minutes.
We know life is all about perspective.
Why do some people "seem" to have it all but yet are still unhappy? Because it's not about how much we have or do, it's about appreciating everything we have and do. It's the mindset we have about our lives.

Gratitude is a skill, coping tool and mindset. It requires consistent effort and work, but its work that is 100% worth it. Every time.
It has the power to creates waves in our perspective, motivation, and ability to make a positive difference in this world. When we feel that we have and are enough, when we begin expanding our presence through gratitude, we have more to give and a greater desire to give. 

So next time you feel good from being around a certain person, thank them. Next time you feel inspired, be grateful for it. Next time you feel happy from drinking a coffee, being in the sun, reading a book, going to an event or simply waking up in the morning, practicing gratitude. Write gratitude. Say gratitude. Doing this fills our inner reservoir so that when we do experience a tough time, we not only have the ability to shift it, but the previous experience to remind us of what is possible.

I'm grateful for YOU. Your support on my journey of developing this blog has been a blessing. Thank you.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Why I Live on the Edge

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/d5/b4/95/d5b4955510e9b7b2f9e5919f556206e6.jpgIn the midst of planning my next trip this March, which involves researching destinations, talking to people and daydreaming, I had an inkling to write a post like this. So here goes.

I've stayed in hostels and started conversations with total strangers.
I've quit jobs that didn't make me happy, skydived and taken spontaneous trips out of my country.
Multiple times a year. 
I've traveled alone and found others to travel with along my journey.
I chose to leave the traditional University education because my heart wasn't in it and I prefer a more rugged, hands-on education from the university of life right now.

My 20's are being dedicated to exploration, adventure, self-discovery and making a positive difference in this world.

I climbed a 2,434 foot mountain in British Columbia a few months ago on my own, making it down just as the sun set.

I've loved with my whole heart, even though there were no guarantees. Ever.
The truth is that I choose to live a life of mindful risk because it makes me feel alive. The risks I take are intentional because I believe that if we don't take the risks associated with becoming our strongest selves, we don't grow.

Because personal growth is such a strong value I hold, I know that in order to grow, we must move past fear, follow our intuition and act in favor of the impulses that urge us to get out of our comfort zone. Being uncomfortable is a risk, but what is more dangerous I believe is protecting ourselves from ever feeling our emotions and experiencing all of the experiences life urges us to take part in.

I'd rather feel and experience than not experience at all. I'd rather grow and push the limits of what I think is possible to discover more. I'd rather do what absolutely scares me, because I know that it will also make me feel absolutely alive.

Now before I continue, I want to make a clear distinction. When I say "mindful risk", I am referring to the risks that cause us to grow into our strongest, best selves. This doesn't mean recklessly doing drugs, disrespecting our bodies, sleeping around or doing things without thinking at all. I am talking about the positive risks we are afraid of taking because we want to avoid discomfort. These risks are spoken through the voice of our intuition that wants us to grow, thrive, live and love with our whole hearts.

A life without risk is a dangerous life because we are left wondering, "what if?"
What if I took that opportunity?
What if I went on that trip?
What if I let myself love him/her?

Without risk, we simply don't grow.
While we know that we risk pain by risking joy, the truth is that its worth it. It's the point of life.

I'd rather have both than neither. It's like the concept of yin and yang. "Yin Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole." So in essence, the risk to love and feel the ups comes with the downs. "Over thousands of years quite a bit has been sorted and grouped under various Yin Yang classification systems."

 I recently experienced a life-changing relationship that caused me to grow immensely, but didn't work out in the long term. And you know what? It fucking sucks to feel the pain, but I wouldn't take any of the moments back because I leaned into them fully. They were amazing. And they made me realize that these experiences is what life is about. Breakups suck, but I still wouldn't take anything back. In fact, I am grateful for all of it.

So why do I choose to live on the edge? Because it makes me grow and feel alive. I've become a more loving, compassionate and understanding human being because of the risks I've taken. All of them. I can empathize more with others and their journeys because of mine. This is no "safe" path, but it is full and beautiful and its where we become more loving and find people who we can share our love with.

Now your turn. What is your "edge"? What makes you grow? What risks do you take?
Have some fun with this. Risk looks different for everyone so avoid comparison and focus on what it means for you.