I frequently use art as a metaphor for living life wisely and well. There’s The Art of Living, an exploration of how we are designed to live creatively and joyfully and the potential for waking up every day like children eager to paint on walls and splash in mud puddles. (Imagine!) There’s the Reboot Your Life Creative Immersion Retreat I’m doing with my friend, Cherie Ray, at the end of the year. For over 20 years I’ve been coaching people to be visionary (even revolutionary) and effective, whether they are corporate executives, music teachers, or boat builders. In every field, the fundamentals are the same.
The questions we ask ourselves to help us live wisely and well invite different answers when we ask them as if we were making art. When we realize that human beings are inherently creative it just makes sense to lean into this way of thinking about our challenges and opportunities.
If a surfer riding the crest of a wave obsesses about the last six waves or the next six waves, she’s certain to wipe out.
Yet human beings do this all the time when we (yes, me too!) innocently generate overwhelm.
The illusion of overwhelm
Most of us live in the illusion that overwhelm comes from overwhelming circumstances. We think that our jammed mental circuits, tight shoulders, irritability, and confusion are inevitable and natural consequences of the situations we face.
But that’s just not so.
Overwhelm comes to us courtesy of thought, not the world
Overwhelm is the product of overwhelming thought, not overwhelming circumstances.
If overwhelm were the natural byproduct of circumstances, every surfer would be utterly and completely freaked out by the ocean all the time.
I mean really, what’s more freaking overwhelming than the ocean and wind?
Successful surfers only focus on one wave at a time
A surfer who succeeds isn’t thinking about yesterday’s waves or tomorrow’s weather. She succeeds and improves to the extent that she pays attention right here, right now, and allows herself to be educated by the experience.
The surfer who stays in the moment learns naturally and organically on multiple levels as she gains experience. If she overanalyzes that experience, she’s going to gum up the works, stop learning, and perform poorly. (In golf this is known as the yips.)
Overwhelm arises from using the small personal mind to do a job it isn’t designed to do
Overwhelm arises when we try to think our way through situations that we are designed to live our way through.
When we live in the moment, life educates us in exactly the ways we require to meet whatever life is serving up. Like babies learning to walk and talk, life invites us to whole body, whole mind, whole spirit learning.
So long as we come back to the wave we are on right now.
Play with this. Reflect on your experience. Where do you notice you or someone around you learning and growing organically? And where do you see you or someone else gum up the works by trying too hard or getting hung up on the past or the future? Play with the possibility that you are designed to do life with less mental effort than you may think.
Let me know what you notice in the comments at the bottom of this page, or email me.
Check out The Art of Living
How would it be to really see that you are perfectly designed to do life? If that sounds good, check out The Art of Living. It’s starts November 9, and three of 12 places are already spoken for.
You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. Maybe you’ve said it; I certainly have. And today I realized that it’s not all that helpful.
Maybe things happen for a reason; maybe they don’t. As my mentor George Pransky likes to say, “That’s beyond my pay grade.” In other words, I don’t actually know.
What I know down to my toenails is that things happen. And really, it’s more useful to keep our attention on that simple fact so we can resources we can encounter, experience, and respond to what happens, as it happens, with our whole selves. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to divert attention we can use for that to figuring out the cosmic reason or lack of reason for what’s going on.
Sure, in quiet moments, it can be interesting, even rewarding, to muse about why things happen. But on a go forward basis, it probably makes more sense to simply notice that things certainly do happen and that human beings are designed beautifully to respond.
What comes up for you? Tell me about it! Please comment. ♥
Join me for The Art of Living: Rediscovering Magic and Meaning in Life and Work
The Art of Living is a 12-week encounter with magic, meaning, and your innate resourcefulness and resilience. Together we will tapping into the deeper intelligence available to every human being, an intelligence that will guide you in the creation of what you want in life, whether you think it is possible at the outset or not. Starts November 9, 2017. Click here for details.
Each of us has an inner guidance system, a sort of GPS. Most of us know this on some level, yet we second guess ourselves. What if we misinterpret the information our GPS is giving us? What if we make the wrong turn? It turns out that those questions really don’t matter. Your inner GPS is capable of recalibrating and recalculating no matter what move you make. You can rely on that and worry less about getting it “right.”