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I know what it feels like, to stand at the precipice of Big Life Change, and to desire the courage to change your life . I’ve been there, before. Many times. The courage to change your life is not for the faint of heart.
I understand the swirling confusion about what to do next, the wondering if it’ll be worth the effort, the questioning if you can “really” do it.
I know what it feels like to decide to make a change, and take steps in that direction, and then to think, “Holy shit! What am I doing? Am I crazy?”
I know what it feels like, to start doing things differently and feel the responses of others–and they are judging the shit out of you, which has you start judging the shit out of yourself.
I say that “I know” because mostly, when I was in those places, I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone. I wanted someone else to say, “I know what that’s like.”
The courage to change your life starts with understanding–really understanding–that the old way of doing things isn’t working, anymore. You have to get to a place where you really own that it just doesn’t work to keep doing things, the way you have been.
So if you’re at that place, right now, knowing that things aren’t working and that it’s time to change, I salute you.
And now, I challenge you.
I challenge you to start confronting every limiting belief system and self-conception that you “can’t.”
I challenge you to start connecting with other people who will support you as you walk through all of this.
I challenge you to do just one little thing differently, starting with the one little thing that would bring you the most joy (as opposed to starting with the really hard thing that would feel like a total drag).
I challenge you to be consistent about your change.
Your life wasn’t meant to be lived from the cheap seats. Scott Berkun says, “You can’t get big dreams, at discount prices.”
The courage to change your life isn’t going to come to you, in one fell swoop, and then you’ll be ready to go.
The courage to change your life is cultivated, one piece at a time.
So ask yourself: What do you need to do, right now? What do you need to get off of the internet, and take care of, right now, so that you’re taking one tiny-big step towards shifting something? Quit pretending not to know what that thing is. You know what it is that you deeply desire for your life. Say it, out loud.
You might feel giddy and excited. You might feel sick to your stomach.
But remember this day. Remember what it felt like, to acknowledge that you know what you want, and you know what needs to be done. Remember what it feels like, to make just one move in that direction.
That’s the courage to change your life.
Oh, Frazey Ford. I love her name, her voice, and how she rocks her curves in lame and sequins.
Most of all, I love these lyrics from her song, “Done.”
And I’m sorry that you don’t like your life
I fought for my own victories and for the beauty in my life
My joy, my joy, my joy takes nothing from you.
No, my joy, my joy, my joy takes nothing from you.
I spent the weekend listening to that song, sharing it with my toddler (who also listened to it, over and over–after it finished, she’d point to the computer and say, “More!”).
Then, I went to my Sunday night vinyasa flow class, which is like heaven and hell to me, all in one room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been downward-dogging at the beginning of class, feeling like I want to crawl out of my skin (“Why the fuck did I come to yoga, tonight?”), only to end it feeling like I want to make love to the world (starting with my husband).
This particular night, what came to me as I was moving through vinyasas, was this:
“Enlightenment through ecstasy. Enlightenment through ecstasy.”
As in, not always needing to do “the hard work” in order to get to happiness.
I have found that the prayers I offer during savasana are usually the most potent. My prayer during this savasana was to open my being-ness, completely, to enlightenment through ecstasy.
Enlightenment = to enlighten. To shine light upon. To learn. To understand. To grow.
Ecstasy = Unrestrained joy. Sensuous delight. Happiness without compromise.
I am particularly keen to my own patterns of trying to shirk the hard work–the lies I used to tell myself, the justifications for copping out selling out bailing on myself and others. It took hard work–and still can take hard work–to overcome my own victim mentality.
But–mmmmm, yeah–Enlightenment through ecstasy means that I’m interested in what I can learn through being really fucking happy. I’m interested in what lies in store for me if I am open to learning just as much through feeling all the good stuff, as I am in walking with the shadow.
I fought for my own victories and the beauty in my life.
–and now, I’m ready to stop fighting and enjoy the fruits of that.
My joy my joy my joy takes nothing from you.
–and all the places where I’ve reigned in my joy, so as not to trigger someone else, or so that I could “be realistic” and avoid someone saying, “Who do you think you are”? Yeah. Takes nothing from you. I get it. I so, so get it.
In other words, when you’re deciding what your Really Fucking Happy life looks like, don’t try to reign it in by “being realistic.”
One of the ways that we can unconsciously “be realistic” about happiness is in deciding, “Well, I’d better do lots of hard work to correct all my flaws.” After all, gotta be realistic, right? It’s gotta be hard work, right?
Some of the time, it probably will be–especially if you’ve been shirking the hard work for years, as I did.
After you put your time in, though, there comes this space where you understand the lay of the land. You understand the shadowy stuff, the dysfunctional patterns. (I am the expert on my Shit Emotions, let me tell you.)
Enlightenment through ecstasy is the next level. The prayer sounds something like this:
Go ahead, Universe. Bring me more happiness and joy than you think I can stand. I’m ready!
And instead of having hands folded, palms pressed, you throw your head back and your arms open wide.
This felt daring for me to admit, even just a few months ago: I want to be really, really fucking happy.
Not kinda happy. Not just as happy as everyone else. Not content. Not as happy as one can reasonably expect to be.
I spent a lot of time with Micron pens this summer, doodling and writing out what I meant by that.
I started crafting the Theory of Really Fucking Happy. It’s always up for refinement, but so far, it goes like this:
Avoiding the Shit Emotions is exhausting. Accept that they are there.
Cry it out, scream it out–just not onto other people.
Breathe it out, work it out–all day, every day.
Fuck “being realistic” about your happiness.
Prioritize the state of Really Fucking Happy.
Avoiding the Shit Emotions is exhausting. Accept that they are there. When this hit me, I was all, “Duh, Kate.” My entire proposition surrounding fear is that you’ll never be “fearless,” so why exhaust yourself by trying? Accept the fear. On that note, instead of pouring energy into trying to not feel the Shit Emotions, not feel the anger, not feel the sadness, not feel the frustration, not feel the discontent–accept the feelings. Trying to avoid them, and shaming ourselves when we have them, makes us miserable.
Cry it out, scream it out–just not onto other people. We need something to do with the Shit Emotions. So cry when you need to cry. Scream when you need to scream. Just don’t make other people your emotional dumping ground. This might mean making an appointment with yourself to be alone in your house so that you can drop the f-bomb or scream into a pillow or cry on your bed until you get ‘em all out.
Breathe it in, work it out–all day, every day. Breathing lots, and working out (as in, exercise) are probably the two things that you can most easily do for yourself that will have you feel Really Fucking Happy. You don’t need mo’ money (or mo’ problems). You probably don’t need a better spouse, an organized home, a green juice raw foods sustainably raised organic no-sugar gluten-free diet. You just need to breathe and work out.
Fuck “being realistic” about your happiness. Like, when people tell you to be realistic about your job prospects, or what you can expect in a marriage, or when they tell you to reign in your hopes for something? Fuck that. That’s their Story about what’s possible for their lives. It doesn’t have to be yours. Yeah, we need to watch out for where our Egos turn unrestrained hope into an endless, hungry-ghost kind of striving. But most of us? Most of us hope for far too little.
Me? I want a marriage with the kind of love that leaves God speechless. I want a career that is emotionally and financially lucrative. I want to be Really Fucking Happy, all day every day.
If you’re going to want something, why not want this?
Prioritize the state of Really Fucking Happy. Ah, this one. I arrived at this one when I realized that I, that we, can so often tell ourselves all sorts of awesome stuff about living a great life, and then we don’t walk it. We don’t prioritize it. We let lack of time or lack of money get in the way. We talk about all the reasons why something isn’t possible. The truth is, if you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it.
If I want to be Really Fucking Happy, badly enough, I’ll stop doing the stuff that feels lackluster, eating the stuff that feels lackluster, wearing the clothes that feel lackluster, going through the motions that feel lackluster.
I was at a workshop, once, where I was challenged to make the statement, “From this moment forward, I refuse to accept anything less than absolutely everything.”
I was embarrassed, at the time, to make such a statement (but hey, I was game, I did it), but I see how there’s an ethos there that can be embodied.
It’s an ethos that isn’t selfish. It’s an ethos that actually equips me with more capacity to give back to others. It’s an ethos that raises the vibration of the world.
I’m working on a book about all of this. I was going to have it debut in November 2015. Then I found that putting pressure on myself to whip out a book was leaving me way, way less than joyful on a regular basis.
So, I backed up my files and I look at them now and again, and I putter around with it when it feels Really Fucking Happy to do so.
At some point, you’ll have a book on this in your hands. Join the YCL e-letter, if you want the announcement (and some other ridiculously cool freebies that will up your joy factor).
In the meantime, feel free to adopt as your new mantra: