Dear Reader, A few of my friends and I are having an adventure this March. I hope you’ll join us. We’re having an adventure in our own lives. We’re going to turn up the heat in our existence and fling off some brighter sparks. This is what we’ll do:
1. Truth and Beauty Pages
Each morning, first thing, we’ll write four pages in response to the question: “What’s true in my life? And what’s beautiful?” I’ve been writing Truth and Beauty Pages on and off for years now. Whenever I do it, things go better— I’m more in touch with my life, with who I am, and with what I need to do (that’s the truth part) and I’m more sensitive to the glorious glories all around me (that’s the beauty part). I’ve been doing it for the past two weeks and I can feel myself coming alive in a thousand surprising ways— I can’t believe I had stopped for so long!
Actually, let revise what I said in the first paragraph— it’s not just that things get better when I write my Truth and Beauty pages— it’s that Truth and Beauty pages have literally kept me alive at some points in my life. When I was young and in a really bleak situation, living with an older guy who lied to me and abused me on a daily basis, writing Truth and Beauty pages was the only thing that kept me sane and connected with my soul.
Writing each day about the reality of my situation (it sucked SO much) and about the beauty that I saw in myself, others, and the world served the dual purpose of both making me face the facts without denial, minimization, or
rationalization (three ugly devils who like to keep me stuck!) and also letting me dream about what could be possible. This gave me enough strength to eventually leave that man and build the awesome existence I currently enjoy.
Now that I’m quite a bit saner and about seventy trillion times happier, writing Truth and Beauty Pages continues to serve me because… as it turns out, there’s always more to discover when it comes to these primary spiritual principles. They’re no longer dramatically rescuing me from abusive scenarios, but they are bringing the much needed oxygen of consciousness to my experience— thus stoking the flames.
2. Throbbing, Extra-Rational Optimism
As every life-coach new-agey metaphysical finger lickin’ person out there will tell you (and I, friends, am no exception) you have to vividly imagine your life working out in a way that will utterly rock your socks if you want your socks to end up rocked. The reason everyone will tell you this is because they are kind and good and it, ladies and gentlemen, is true.
How do I know it’s true? Well, that’s a good story. I was once in a completely yucky state with my dating life. I could only seem to get interested in and attracted to guys who would lie to me and or harm me in some fashion (see above instance) and every “romantic” interaction I had was actually a disaster. I overcame this situation in part by practicing the brilliant, exceptionally well-written instructions in Amy Spencer’s life-altering book, Meeting Your Half Orange: An Utterly Upbeat Guide to Using Dating Optimism to Find Your Perfect Match. If you have any trouble finding the right person at all, I highly beg you (notice: I am not highly recommending and I am not begging— I am highly begging) that you purchase and read and practice this book.
I practiced the kind of optimism that Spencer so wittily describes— and that optimism gave me the power to fearlessly examine my previous patterns and change my fundamental false beliefs about who I am and what I deserve… which resulted in me cosmically attracting to myself my now-boyfriend, Dey, who I will put up against any dude you got in the “most phenomenally awesome lover and friend and human being” contest that we will organize and hold next year.
This experience— of going from a situation being so awful for such a long time (my romantic sorrows, oh, they were manifold!) to being so flippin’ great that I gush at every one endlessly about it— has taught me that yes, Amy Spencer and everyone else is right. Optimism works.
And not lazy optimism. Not, “Oh, whatever, yeah, that could happen” optimism. I mean balls-to-the-wall, hoping-with-all-my-heart, completely exposed and vulnerable optimism.
I call it throbbing optimism, because when you’re really doing it (and more about how-to soon) your whole body pulses. It feels great.
I call it extra-rational optimism because it rationality and reason are way over-rated. The reasoning mind (at least mine) only knows what was true in the past, and makes deductions out of that. It says that any hope that something truly different and way more better could happen is “irrational.” Well, I say it is NOT “irrational” — it is extra-rational. It exceeds reason. It exceeds the known. It’s willing to accept the unknown— and that unknown is super-neat.
Hops are “hopeful optimistic practices.” Yes, you’re right. That’s redundant. It is so redundant because guess what? Our habitual negativity and existential dread is incredibly redundant. So the stuff that combats it has got to be the same way. Hops are kind of like leaps of faith. Except they’re not leaps— because leaps are big and really really hard. Hops are— you know, just hops. They’re fun. Less like soaring across a rocky gulch and more like bouncing— as bunnies bounce. So you see, cadbury candy eggs. No, wait. Cadbury candy eggs was not my point.
My point is this— we need each day to take little actions that are in line with the dreams of our Throbbing, Extra-rational Optimism. These little actions must also be fun. I don’t mean big actions. I don’t mean stuff that feels like a drag. I just mean little hip hops that are on the trail.
Hops are much, much easier to do, by the way, when you are indeed practicing your Throbbing, Extra-rational Optimism— because that stuff has some oomph in it, and provides inspirational energy that we might otherwise lack.
When I was practicing my dating optimism a la Amy Spencer, my hops were these: sifting through okcupid profiles, looking for guys I liked; getting dressed up all fancy and going to parties that sounded cool. That’s it. So you see, these hops were not only not tough— they were also fun.
Here’s the thing though: had I not been practicing my Throbbing, Extra-rational Optimism, I totally would have talked myself out of those hops. “What’s the point at looking at okcupid? I’ve been on that stupid site for years and I haven’t met anyone I really liked who really liked me.” “Go to the Beaux Arts Ball? But
getting a costume together would take so much energy. Better to just stay home and look at LOLcats.”
So what happened due to my hops? Well, at the Beaux Arts Ball I dressed as my true self, Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love, and this hot French guy asked me out while we were standing in a glorious topiary garden. He took me out on fancy dates to the theater and classy restaurants— which was a great time. Stuff with the French dude did not ultimately work out, but it sure did help bolster my self-esteem which had been trampled by my years of misadventures— and weeks later, while trolling okcupid, I came across the profile of an astoundingly gorgeous Indian man who looked just like the astoundingly gorgeous Indian man I’d been seeing repeatedly in my (romantic, tender, luscious) night-time dreams. Hmmmmmm. Well, that was Dey and that DID work out.
So yeah man— hops.
Currently, my Throbbing, Extra-Rational Optimistic dream is to become an internationally-known speaker, spiritual self-help author, workshop-leader, and life advisor (I would say “life coach” but I really just hate the word “coach”… it makes me think of coaches).
It occurred to me that writing a blog in which I share with the world what I know about making life richer would be a fun, not-difficult action that would align with my dream. So. Here I am. Hop! Hop! Hop!
4. 5 Minutes Towards Beauty
Every day we’ll spend five minutes making something beautiful. A painting, a story, a song, a poem, a cake, a comedy routine, a comic strip. What you make doesn’t need to be “beautiful” in the “wow, that’s pretty” sense. It’s more that it’s beautiful in that it’s revealing something real through your craft— whatever that craft is. Remember, truth IS beauty. Honesty— even difficult to look-at-stuff— is also beautiful. What I’m saying is, just because your comic strip is a vividly rendered piece about university professors who melt into nauseating, hairy gremlins when deprived of coffee doesn’t mean it can’t count as your “something beautiful”— because it’s true, so true, you see.
Devoting 5 minutes a day to making something beautiful has the powerful effect of putting you in alignment with the creative force of the universe— which, as you may notice, makes something (or, arguably, everything) beautiful every day.
Also, if you don’t yet have enough skills in a particular area to sit down and “make something beautiful” right then and there— that’s absolutely fine. Practicing and playing around counts too, as long as that practice is towardsthe beautiful. For example— I’m just learning to play guitar right now (through the good grace of my friends who are so generous with their time!) and I can’t yet just sit down and write “Hallelujah.” Heck, I can’t even play “Hallelujah.” I’m working on making the transition from the C chord to the G chord. But that counts!
Okay, so that’s what we’ll be up to for the month of March. So I hope you’ll join in! Feel free to write in questions to me under the “Ask me anything” tab up top.