Did you ever have an experience that changed the course of your life?
When we have those experiences, we usually aren’t expecting them. We don’t wake up that morning and say, “something monumental is going to happen today.” Usually, the moments of import happen when we are least expecting. And often, we may not even realize them when they are happening until afterwards.
Several years ago, my friend and I travelled to Lenox, Massachusetts for a Kripalu yoga retreat led by a very famous “rock star” yogi. When we arrived, over a hundred buzzing, excited disciples were already lined up and down the hallway. Immediately, we looked at each other and knew. All we wanted was a quiet weekend of down-dogs and pigeons, and this already felt like the wrong energy for us. I went to front desk and asked if there were any other programs going on that weekend. After searching through sold-out lists, she said, “oh, there is a professor from Harvard teaching the ‘Science of Happiness’ for the weekend.”
I said yes. And that decision changed the course of my life. Less than three years later, I had:
- Earned a Certificate In Positive Psychology
- Co-founded a Happiness Incubator
- Co-led a TEDx Talk
- Enhanced my own life
In case you don’t know, Positive Psychology is the scientific study of optimal living, focusing on what truly makes us happy, resilient, and have meaning and purpose in life. They study mindfulness, flow, strengths, strong social connections.
It’s learning how to lead an optimal life.
The one phrase that unlocked it all for me
One day, our professor mentioned a phrase that continues to guide my way each and every day.
People mistakenly believe that striving for happiness will eventually bring happiness. Ironically, Tal’s phrase focused on the negative, and our embracing of those emotions. He said:
“One of the greatest drivers of happiness is allowing ourselves
the permission to be human”
The permission to be human.
The permission to feel angry, frustrated, jealous, sad, anxious.
The permission to own those feelings. To not push them away. To not numb them with drugs, alcohol, sex, food.
The permission to sit with them, accept them as part of the human experience, and the allow them to dissipate.
Believe it or not, the accepting of our negative emotions allows them to have less of an impact on our psyche. When we ease up on ourselves, we allow those emotions to move freely through us, and for a return to joy. And then back yet again.
Children don’t monitor their emotions. They go from laughing to crying and back. We can too.
The Scare Your Soul challenge this week is: to give yourself the permission to be human.
Your task is to pay attention to your emotions.
- Can you notice when you are feeling sad, anxious, angry, etc?
- What does that feeling feel like to you? Where in your body are you feeling it?
- Can you sit with it? Can you accept that it is a normal, fluid human emotion that WILL GO AWAY?
- Can you recognize again when it is lifted, and you again are feeling positive emotions?
Make no mistake. This will not be easy.
For those of you who are perfectionists, who beat yourselves up internally, who hold yourself to an impossibly high standard, this will be new. It will feel odd. Like you have to fix it.
But you don’t have to fix it.
You just have to push your comfort zone and give yourself permission to be human. Let’s start now.
Tell us one way that YOU will give yourself permission this week? We’ll post anonymously on our Facebook page.