Why do we yearn to fall in love, travel the world or climb the highest mountains? I believe it’s to feel, in Joseph Campbell’s words, “the rapture of being alive,” to feel life pulsing through us from head to toe. I’m all for these wonderful peak experiences, and I believe we must not put off our right to feel vibrantly alive until we’re standing on top of Everest or gazing into the eyes of our one true love. We have the chance to feel exquisitely alive today, in this body, right here, right now…
1. Become an unconditional best friend to yourself.
Like a punch in the stomach, negative self-talk causes us to crumple and fold in on ourselves. Commit today to being unconditionally friendly to yourself. No matter what happens, even if (shock, horror) you make a “mistake” or “fall short,” you agree never to speak harshly toward yourself, but to use only kind and supportive words. As we finally get behind ourselves, we open the floodgates to our own aliveness.
2. Practice vulnerability.
We all experience feelings of “not enoughness,” we’re not “attractive enough,” not “clever enough,” not “interesting enough,” not “whatever” enough. The problem is that from the outside we’re all so good at keeping up appearances that we assume we’re the only ones experiencing feelings of unworthiness. The more we're concerned with hiding parts of ourselves, the less spontaneity we can risk and the less aliveness that’s available to us. This week, practice sharing with a friend where you feel “not enough,” and invite him or her to do the same. Vulnerability will lead to aliveness.
3. Move your body.
Our bodies evolved to do one thing: move. For millions of years our environment demanded almost constant physical activity, yet with today’s technological advances and longer work hours, we've become increasingly sedentary. Lack of movement not only impacts health; but also inhibits the circulation of feel-good chemicals in the brain; it kills aliveness. If you don’t exercise, start. If you already have an exercise routine, then add movement to other parts of your day. Initiate walking meetings, or swap your chair for an exercise ball. Try asking your body what kind of movement it craves and allow it to gift you with the aliveness that is its birthright.
4. Let the world in.
Life loses its luster when we're so busy imposing our will on the world, that we're no longer present to the richness of the moment. When effort isn't accompanied by grace, when our output isn't replenished by input, we end up imbalanced and drained. For three minutes every day, practice letting the world in: open your eyes, listen, sense the breeze on your skin, allow yourself to be filled up by the beauty that is present in every single moment.
5. Step into the courage zone.
When we stop trying new things, we stagnate. We're programmed to be risk-averse, but while this may have aided our survival in the dangerous environment of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, it does little for our sense of vitality in today’s comparatively safe world. To experience vibrant living, we must step out of our comfort zones on a regular basis and get used to inhabiting our “courage zone,” the place that feels uncomfortable but which contains the diamonds we thirst for. Experiment with doing one thing per day that you wouldn’t normally do and notice how it affects your sense of aliveness.