I had a dream the other night, I am sure motivated by seeing this amazing picture Mhedwi posted on Paulo Coehlo’s (The Alchemist) facebook page. In my dream, a man was sitting on top of a high sand dune and watching a battle rage below him. In the far distance, he saw caravans of supplies coming towards one of the army camps but it was on the other side of a set of sand dunes. These dunes were not a barrier to getting the supplies to the army, they were just too high to see from the ground of the army camp. In my dream, I was this man; I was in his head, seeing what he saw, thinking what he thought.
I sat there watching the battle rage on, but I was high enough to not see any individual actions. It was like watching GI Joe figurines posed in two jagged lines, facing one another, and every once in a while, you would see one figurine drop sideways. I was in some form of a deep meditative state, because I was not overly concerned about anything I was seeing, just noticing what was happening in the precise moment, without any feelings attached to it. Normally, I would have a response to fighting, people dying, a caravan with supplies coming, but somehow, I knew, that it was not my place to have an opinion, that this scene was being shown to me for my observation. And, in that state, I understood something powerful.
When we are on the ground in our day to day battle that we call life, we cannot see the environment around us. We are not high enough to have awareness of what is right around the bend (or on the other side of the sand dune). We are stuck in these seemingly never ending day to day battles, having no idea if this is the day we are going to succumb or if supplies will make it today, tomorrow, or never. We keep boldly facing what is before us and psych ourselves up to deal with the matter at hand, having no concept that an hour from now, a day from now or a week from now the entire landscape can and may shift or change. That change could bring relief or bring yet another set of day to day battles. And, with this realization, I understood in a new way, why spiritual leaders suggest you talk to “your higher self”, when you have an issue. Because that part of yourself, sitting on the sand dune next to your personal battle, has the fuller picture. That part of you knows when to push and when to stop. That part of you knows that if you do the same thing today that you did yesterday, it will not work because the entire battlefield is different today. And, those are things that we simply cannot know when we are on the ground. Those things can only be known at a different vantage point.
There is a part of you that knows without doubt that everything is ok, just as it is, in this current moment. For many of us, we do not sit in this place often enough, or at all. But that place is inside each and every one of us. Every spiritual and religious teaching has teachings that talk to the fact that even when bad things are happening, they are part of a greater plan for good. Because there is an even higher vantage point than a sand dune, a universal vantage point, in which the small or huge sadness of today is one string, woven into an enormous tapestry called all people, in all places, in all time and space, and your string as small as it is, in one beautiful, important thread into the larger tapestry called our collective human experience. That is the ultimate vantage point. To understand that everything, every, single, thing, that happens to you has ripple effects on hundreds, thousands or maybe even millions of other people and that there is a higher order and a higher power who has all of that under control. Your job is to spend time on a regular basis in that place within you that knows all is always ok. Your job is to sit on the sand dune, with a higher vantage point, and look at your life, to see, that everything at every moment is just as it should be and something new is on the other side of the next sand dune.
What if you could get everything you wanted with no effort?
In fact, what if the secret to achieving your biggest dreams is following your joy and living life in a state of ease?
Sound too good to be true?
Well, it is possible and here’s why: big dreams do not come with effort, they come with ease.
I know this from personal experience in transforming myself from a burned out type-A overachiever into living my dream of working from home, taking yoga class in the middle of the day, helping my community, as well as other things – all while working half as many hours and making double what I used to.
Within two years of deciding that’s what I wanted, I was doing all of that. Working half the hours with double the salary.
Everyone asks me how I did it, and I came up with the three key ingredients that when combined got me out of burnout and into a life that I love!
Here are those three ingredients:
1) Identify the things that bring you joy, and then do them!
For me, it was dance class, yoga, going for walks, and spending time with my nieces and nephews. I went to soccer games, grandparents breakfasts (even though I was an aunt), read in their classrooms. All these activities made me happy and brought me great joy!
What I see more and more today are people who are not following their joy. Their reason – they simply do not have the time. And, the less they follow their joy, the harder it is to achieve their goal.
I found the fastest way to achieve a goal does not involve effort, but rather, belief the goal will be achieved and living a life of joy.
2) Focus on feelings rather than actions.
As an overachiever, this one was a shocker for me! What I was doing was much less important then how I was feeling! The actions are unimportant. Read that again. The actions are unimportant. What is important is the feeling, the belief, the being. The doing is negligible.
After I wrote my dream life (kind of a vision board, but with words and process flows), I never really looked at it again. I hung it on my wall, so subconsciously I probably saw it all the time, but I never really read it again. Until I was taking it down two years later and shockingly realized I had achieved every single thing I had written down.
The actions were unimportant, but the time I took to create that board and the feeling of freedom and joy I had when I imagined that life, miraculously transformed into it occurring.
3) Take care of yourself, and only you know exactly what that means for you.
I did not learn this in a positive context of achieving my dreams through ease; I learned this through sheer mental and emotional exhaustion.
I remember being exhausted and deciding that I just did not give a [blank] anymore. In that state, all I had energy to do was anything that would get me to stop feeling the pain I was in. I was an overachiever leaving work early to go for walks (sure I was having some sort of nervous breakdown). I was scared, but too tired in that moment to do anything other than the little things that brought me joy.
Once I came up with these three keys, I decided to test them out and ensure they worked.
I took a year to see if I followed my joy, did not worry about the specific actions or exert effort, and took great care of myself, could I make the same amount as the previous year?
I did better than that - I made more than the previous year, working even less and taking even better care of myself.
Since then, I have consistently made more each year for the past five years, each year working significantly less hours than the year before.
I only say yes to work I really want to do, so it does not feel like “work.” I do a lot of “work” for free because I love what I do, and somehow, the money keeps showing up. But, I know now, if I chased the money or “tried” to do something, it would not work nearly as well as just doing what I love and trusting that it will all work out financially.
In yoga, there is a philosophy about balancing between ease and effort. I have found this philosophy to not only apply to yoga, but to all areas of life. There is a time for action. And, when that time comes it feels really, really, really good to take the action. It does not feel like effort.
Do you have moments where you are working harder than ever before (which appears to the outside world as putting in tons of effort), but it doesn’t feel like you are working at all?
In fact, rather than feeling stressed and exhausted it feels joyful and exhilarated? That is what 0% effort, 100% return means. It does not mean you will never “work hard” again. It just means that when you are working hard, it won’t feel hard. There is no strain, exertion, exhaustion – instead it’s joyful.
The key ingredient for this to work is JOY! Allow the magical force of the world to easily, effortlessly, bring your biggest dreams to you!
Want to try it out for yourself? Join us in April for the 30 Day Joy Challenge! Sign up here.
What if I told you it was all alright, right now?
What if I told you, it is unfolding so perfectly? I wish you could see it the way I see it; from my vantage point. It is so clear to me that everything that is happening right now is happening exactly as it should for you to get to where you have to go.
What if I told you, you are dreaming so much smaller than your potential? That the vision you have for your life is not nearly as exciting, thrilling, enriching and satisfying as the one I have created for you?
What if I told you that it was me that put those desires in your heart, because the world needs you and what you have to offer?
Would you relax, then? Would you trust? Would you let go? Would you see that there is nothing to complain about in the present moment? I understand from where you are standing, it is hard to see the bigger picture, but there is one. There always has been. Remember the last time you thought it was horrible and terrible and how that worked out to be the best thing ever. This is no different. And, it won’t be the next time it happens, or the time after.
All I need from you is trust.
All I need from you is to follow your joy. That has always been the way to the big things, the ones that are grander than you could have ever imagined.
I know you know all this, but I also know you forget often. And, that is ok. I just wanted to remind you that you are not alone. You are not directionless. You are not confused. You are not failing in any area of your life. In fact, you are healing and growing. These moments that seem so hard are moments where you cells are going through spring cleaning and getting rid of all the beliefs that they picked up that are not in line with your true self.
When you look back on yourself 2, 3, 5 years from now, you will actually remember this moment. You will tell stories about how you were debating losing hope, but something inside you wouldn’t let you and how grateful you are that you just let it be, just sat with it. This moment is going to be one of those that turn into one of your best ever life stories.
As you feel the sun on your skin, remember that love surrounds you. You come from love and will return to love. You are constantly surrounded by love and there is no lack. Anytime you do not feel the love, it is because you are blocking it (consciously or subconsciously) but when the sun gets blocked by a cloud or your hand, you do not say the sun is no longer there. You know it is always there, always around you and simply marvel at the block and allow it to be for the time it needs to be, knowing, that like the clouds, the blocks will also float away.
Take this time to love yourself. It is not hard to do if you simply do more of what brings you joy. Think and feel less, sit in quiet and be more. The answers are not out there, they are all around you. They are in the first signs of a blue bird in the early stages of Spring, in the plunge of a duck’s head underwater, in the green-ness of the grass after a good spring rain. If you simply quiet your thoughts, all you will need for this moment, will become present to you.
Hi! Welcome to my blog, Lunch with Cinderella. I love writing about my life experiences and the fact that they may help spur some cool experiences of your own. If you are here, leave a comment... I read them all and love hearing from you!
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