Werner Erhardt once said, “If you want to know what you want, look at what you have”. Whoa, that’s pretty harsh.
Or is it? To me, this is one of the most insightful, compassionate, powerful, and truthful proclamations I have ever encountered (and on my personal and professional path of growth and development I have come upon many!).
If the truth of the matter is that we are living out whatever thoughts and beliefs we put into our heads then that means we get to choose the stories we tell ourselves and decide how we want our lives to go. How freeing is that? We can write the story of our lives, chapter-by-chapter, page-by-page.
What would the title of the book of your life be, based on your Life Message right now? Would it be something like, “I never get what I want”, “It’s not fair” or “Why me?”. Or how about, “When’s it my turn?”. Or maybe, “It’s too hard”.
Now, take a look at some of the chapters in your book that you may have authored – here is just a small sampling of the “best picks” I have heard: “it’s never too late to blame someone else for the way my life is going”, or “make resolutions, barely follow through on them, then hate myself for it”. Or, “do unto others as much I can get away with and then come away feeling even more empty and worthless”. One of my personal favorites that I see a lot is, “get excited about having a great life, but balk at putting the corresponding time, energy, and money toward it and then get envious when I see others who have what I want”.
Take your pick from the variety pack above or come up with your own. The idea is to take ownership of the thoughts and beliefs that are guiding your life so that you can decide if they are ones you want to keep or let go of. If they are fear-based thoughts then they will continue to make you miserable and you will continue to not have what you want.
Now, the good news! You can write the story you really want to tell, and LIVE, instead of the ones you have been programmed to believe you’re supposed to have. Ask yourself, “10 years from now, what’s the story I want to be telling about the last 10 years of my life?”. Most people do not have what they want and are waiting until the day comes when it will magically appear. Now, that’s harsh. And so sad. Most of us know plenty of people who, year after year, are still saying the same things over and over, to themselves, and to anyone around them who will listen, and the years go by and nothing has changed. Actually, the quality of their lives usually gets worse – great intentions and all.
That’s because most people do not want to ask themselves the real questions that would actually impact how they can have what they want. Most people would rather stay stuck than let go of old ways of thinking. Even when they say they want more in life, I’ll still hear them say, “I’m definitely going to make the change, just not now, later” and another year (or five, 10, or 20) goes by and it’s the same old story. This one usually starts out with, “If only…” or “It’s too late now, I should have done it last year (or 10 years ago!)” or “Why bother now”. The reasons and excuses go on, ad nauseam.
Now ask yourself what would you like your Life Message to be? What does your Best Life look like? What would you like people to take away from their time with you? What would make you want to jump out of bed in the morning?
Some ideas might be, “Always do your best and your best will keep getting better”, “Whatever the question, Love is the answer”, “Life is happening for me, not to me”, “All dreams appear impossible until someone makes them happen”, “Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, love as long as you live”.
Come up with your own and you’ll know it’s right for you if it makes you feel sparked and alive. And then ask yourself, “what’s one thing I can do to start making my new Life Message real?”.
My favorite parable of all time (and I’m not big on parables), told by Stretton Smith, is about three little fish in Monterey Bay, CA who are in fish school and one day their professor tells them about “water”. He tells them that water is present at every point in space at the same time.
So, after school that day, the three little fish were talking and wondering where the water really is. One of the little fish understood the concept. He knew he was already in the water. The other two said with great excitement, “Let’s go find the water!”
And so, they swam the seven seas, and finally, years later, they returned to Monterey Bay, old and decrepit, impoverished and home to die. They looked up their old fish school chum, who was still looking young, who had a whole string of condos in the reef, a fine family with several generations of grand-fish. And the two fish asked, “How did you ever find the water?”
I love this story – it makes me cry. Everything we need and want is already right here, in this moment – inside us, and all around us. All we have to do is awaken ourselves to the truth of how life works and we can have everything we want, beyond our wildest dreams.
So, here’s the key – in order to have what you want, start with understanding these three things:
1. You can never get enough of what you don’t really want. Most of us are relentlessly looking outside ourselves to fill up the emptiness and lack that we experience deep inside. There is not enough alcohol, food, sex, obsessive romantic love, drugs, shopping, over-busyness, or whatever other obsessive-compulsive, self-sabotaging, fear-based and blaming thoughts or behaviors you are engaging in, that will fill the emptiness inside of your hungry heart. We are starving for love and attention and what most of us don’t know is that it is we who have abandoned ourselves and we are just trying to get back home to us.
It can seem so much easier to tell ourselves the same old crusty story about “how things are” rather than feel the fullness of life that is always flowing through us. It takes great courage to be vulnerable and to allow ourselves to connect to our inner experience and awaken ourselves to the places inside that we hide from. It’s everyone’s dirty little secret that they think they are the only ones who are scared to death to live a life of open-heartedness, connection, peace, and joy. So many are consumed with trying to get what they think they want or desperately trying not to lose what they have that they are living in their own solitary confinement.
We live in a culture that obsessively promotes the false notion that once we get what we want, then we’ll be motivated to do what we need to do in order to be the person we know we can be. Any happy person will tell you that it’s the other way around!
Start putting who you are being first and watch your life completely change. Do what you love and what you were born to do and watch your life completely change. And then enjoy everything that you have as a result of who you are being, while you are living a life you love!
2. Want what you already have. There is nothing cliché about being fully aware that every breath you take is a gift – ask anyone who is dead and see whether they agree! And that the happiest people are not those with the most stuff, but those who are rich in gratitude and generous in spirit.
Make a (written or mental) gratitude list every night before you go to bed and it’s impossible not to go to sleep feeling filled by all of life’s riches. Reminding ourselves of all that we do have – inside of us and in our lives – is hugely gratifying and, above all, transformational. Don’t wait until you “don’t know what you got till it’s gone” to start appreciating what’s in your life now.
When we don’t take the time to appreciate what we have and acknowledge ourselves for what we have accomplished, how is it that we think we’re going to appreciate what’s to come once we get it? Who you are being while trying to get what you want is who you will be when you get it so be very clear about thinking you’re going to be happy by manipulating a situation into giving you what you think you want. Disappointment and self-hate will surely accompany that one.
3. Ask yourself “What do I love to do?”. What makes your heart sing? What would make you get out of bed in the morning that you couldn’t get dressed fast enough to go do?”.
What I love to do: I love to dance. I love to write and read, to sing and play my guitar and to listen to my favorite music, watch movies, and play with my adorable and irresistible cat. I love to swim and kayak in the ocean, ski powder, and hike in the mountains. I love improv theater and comedy, and to travel everywhere. I love dinner parties with friends, having great conversations about everything. I love to coach people to live their dreams and have their best life possible and I love to get coached – I love it!
This is just a small sampling of what I love to do. What is yours? Start writing down what you love to do, and then start doing it! It will make you come alive and, when you feel alive, you have no interest in blaming others and complaining about why you can’t have what you want, because life is too good!
And, if you’re still not convinced that your thoughts create your reality, then you’ll have Albert Einstein to contend with because he is the one who said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions”. Still with me? Good because here’s more good news, you can have whatever you want. Whatever you want. Start by, 1. Getting honest with yourself about what you’re focused on wanting, 2. Want what you have and, 3. Do what you love!
Do this for a week and email me what you notice. And, don’t forget to have FUN while doing it!