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May 29, 2018

Why most of us are still waiting for Permission to Live the Lives we Want.

There is value in doing what we know is good for us, yet don’t want to do.

Obviously.

And yet we don’t do it.

Generally, our reasons for not doing what’s best for us are rooted in a lack of self-love—not believing firmly enough that we are worth the effort required to make our lives better.

We all know what we should be doing (it’s why our New Year’s resolutions are the same year after year), but for some reason when the time comes, we find other things (usually, less valuable things) to do with our time.

It is as simple and as difficult as doing what we know we should do: eat well, exercise, call our mothers, and give 30 to 60 minutes a day to our passions. But instead, we find ourselves falling down the Instagram rabbit hole, scrolling Facebook’s news feed, or binging on Netflix for our few free hours a night.

Are these platforms bad? No. But are they stealing valuable moments of our days that could be spent making ourselves happier? Absolutely.

When someone tells me that they want to write and I respond by asking them how much they are writing, more often than not I get a blank look in response. As if it’s possible to get to where we want to be without first taking the necessary steps to get there.

There is no easy button or quick fix to achieving the lives we could be leading; it’s instead in how we spend the minutes and the hours that count. A friend of mine has a two-minute rule. If he thinks of something that needs to be done that takes less than two minutes to accomplish, no matter what he’s doing, he stops to do that task. There is something so simple about his strategy: taking the easy road off the table.

For some reason, we are convinced that things should be easy instead of good. And yet we can all admit that easier isn’t necessarily better. Challenge, healthy stress, and a sense of accomplishment are more important to living a good life than ease. It’s healthier to walk to work; it’s easier to drive. It’s healthier to communicate our feelings; it’s easier to bottle them up and explode at random times. It’s healthier to meditate; it’s easier to watch “House of Cards.”

All of us know what’s good for us and what isn’t, and yet there’s something to being human that makes us so susceptible to choosing immediate gratification over long-term gains: to choosing the donut over the pear, or being the critic instead of the creator.

I read Marianne Williamson’s quote often:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.”

After all this time of not living under our parents roofs, we are still waiting for permission to be more than who we’ve become. As kids we didn’t think, “When I’m grown, I want to be mediocre!” So why are so many of us leading lackluster lives? We are so afraid of failure that we give ourselves all kinds of reasons to play it safe.

Yoga is teaching me that every single time I show up to the mat, I am only meeting myself. When I am frustrated with the class, the pose, the teacher, each and every time, it is only ever me and my baggage that I am encountering. If I am frustrated and attached to outcomes I can’t control, then of course that’s how I’m going to feel for the 90 minutes I’m stuck in downward dog. No one else is to blame for how I choose to show up to class or work or time with my family. No one else is to blame for my life but me.

It’s annoying to hear, isn’t it?

That it’s our responsibility to make things better for ourselves. That there is no adult in the room monitoring our behavior who’s about to reward us with a treat for being good little boys and girls as we get dressed for work every morning without making a fuss.

I am here to tell you: be the adult in the room.

Make yourself into who you once believed you could be. Decide to be kind, strong, and honest, and be passionate about your life. Have the audacity to believe yourself nauseatingly worthy of a good life. The road to getting there is not sexy or instantaneous, but it is worthwhile. We have to believe the ends justify the means regardless of the world’s applause because the end and the means are our lives.

Stop waiting to be discovered. Work hard on yourself. You’re worth it.

~

Author: Pam Stewart
Image: ECC Photography; Jillian/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman

Copy & Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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