May 2, 2016

5 Ways to Lighten Up & Enlighten Yourself.


There is a prevalent myth that we know ourselves better than anyone else does.

In decades of working intimately with thousands of people I find that almost never to be the case. Sure, we know what we had for dinner last night, or about how our first kiss felt, or how we like our coffee, but that isn’t really knowing yourself.

Sure, we think about ourselves more than anyone else does, but a huge pile of self thoughts has nothing to do with knowing ourselves either.

Knowing yourself happens inside, without form, function or structure—and people are usually too distracted to discover that place of profound clarity. Often, with one glance a stranger can point out things about us that we wouldn’t stumble upon, things so obvious that they touch us and remind us that when it comes to ourselves we are more distant than strangers.

Ordinary moments

It is ordinary moments that tell the most about us, but it is on extraordinarily good or bad moments that we tend to focus our attention.

You can access those ordinary moments and meet extraordinary aspects of yourself.

Here are the fantastic five with a little explanation of each.

1. How you spend your time waiting for your six minute soft boiled egg to cook often tells more about you than your occupation.

What you do for a living is a complex mixture of goals, and upbringing, nature and nurture, self esteem and self image and your relationship with time and money. It’s so convoluted that you can’t ever really know how you got there and if someone asked you why you do what you do you would simply have to bluff your ass off leaving out more relevant data than gets in to your explanation.

But what you do when you are free, when you aren’t tangled up in stories and justifications, that is when you meet the real you. And that is those little minutes while the egg is cooking. Do you busy yourself? If so, stop. Notice that you exist, how you exist, and then that you exist again. Let you and that egg cook at the same time. The egg in water and you in the universe.

When the egg is done, and the two of you have cooled off a little, crack your shells. Open yourselves up, bringing the inside outside and exposing more of yourselves than usual.

Throughout the day there are many moments in between activities and thoughts. Notice what you do in the time between. Don’t just bide your time; notice you exist, then crack yourself open revealing and spreading your existence around.

2. Why you brush your teeth.

The care you take of your teeth can usher in a whole new sort of relationship with time. Try brushing them just for fun, not to ensure good dental health or avoid a scolding from the dentist. Brushing them for fun is pure joy, with sensations galore. One moment of enjoyment gives birth to another and soon you are trending upward: loving your teeth, not fighting cavities.

You can apply the wisdom of doing just what you want to more than just dental care. If you explain why you are doing something you are giving birth to a story, justifying yourself:

“I go into work because I need the money.”

“I am taking these vitamins because they make me healthy.”

“I want to marry you because I love you.”

Replace all of the long winded, uncreative, defensive stories with one simple phrase: which will have the above sentences look like this:

“I go into work because I want to.”

“I am taking these vitamins because I want to.”

“I want to marry you.”

When you cut through the stories you embolden yourself by expressing your wants; people around you will be uncomfortable at first, because they are used to stories.

But soon you will all convert to the language of wants and it will bring you together with fewer words and more shared connection and desires. That makes for a better day, a better job, and a much better world.

3. Notice what you feel.

Knowing yourself has more to do with what you feel than what you think.

Your touch speaks volumes about you without uttering a word. How you stand, in your body or out, offers you a point of view, a place to view from—much more relevant than some point you wish to express.

Feel, always feel, and feel some more. Eat that sandwich with your eyes closed, go tactile and you will learn about how tuna salad feels or lettuce wraps around your tongue, embracing it. Being present with the innards of your sandwich converts an ordinary bite into the experience of getting to know yourself.

4. Say “I don’t know,” especially if you imagine that you do. Assume you don’t know, not that you do.

Assuming you don’t know gathers possibilities; it calls them without a sound like a dog whistle and soon you are surrounded by man/woman’s real best friend: possibilities. Possibilities inspire curiosity and creativity. New possibilities are more satisfying than dark chocolate melting on your tongue, or setting any sort of goal.

Stop trying to push everything and everybody around in order for everything to make sense to you. Instead, let things fall apart, and then watch as they fall together again. You make an impression in the sandbox, on Facebook, every time you open your mouth or touch anything. Let that impression be of not knowing: opening.

I recall the way my brother looked to me by the light of our first ever sparkler burning down between little fingers. I imagine how I looked to him in that moment, by that same light and I wonder if, at that moment we knew, in some ways, more about ourselves, our innocence than we do today. “I don’t know” evokes innocence and innocence makes ordinary moments sparkle.

5. Be a muse, and have many muses. Muses assist us in getting to know us at our best.

Today on Facebook, Barbara , a “friend” I don’t know, commented on a recent blog. “Man, you are an intelligent gifted writer,” she wrote.

In that moment she became my muse. She egged me on as muses will. I don’t know her and may never meet her but in that moment, when she bothered to reach out, we were wed. Bonded together in our joint influence on my next blog and breath.

Anyone can be critical, but everyone, with a little reaching out and daring can be a muse. And as we inspire a network of muses all creativity, writing, painting and loving becomes inspired.

You don’t have to live in Utah to have a lot of muses.

Getting to know yourself lightens you up and enlightens you at the same time. It reveals that you are someone worth knowing.

Use the fantastic five to meet new aspects of you and love.





Author: Jerry Stocking

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

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