I’ve noticed a trend in wellness circles. Whether in my work with patients or in my yoga classes, I keep coming across the same words. On a given day, one might be the theme of a dharma talk or a TED Talk video someone mentioned to me. (Or, as was the case one strange morning, the same word was featured in both.) I am sure the universe is sending me messages, and the more I mention these to friends and colleagues, it seems like they're hearing the same words.
Which of these words resonates with you? My guess is some will at different times, but they're all good words to live by.
1. Presence: To be fully engaged in what you are doing right now. And right now. And right now. Mindfulness of the present moment is something we never fully attain 100% of the time, but it shouldn’t stop us from trying. Whatever tools you use to cultivate presence, make time to hone them. That is why we practice (not perfect) yoga and meditation.
2. Vulnerability: The willingness to be let others see you as you are. Vulnerability is to admit, “I am human. I am not perfect. I struggle, just like you.” No one has described vulnerability more effectively than Brene Brown. She teaches us that vulnerability is NOT weakness; in fact, being vulnerable is the most courageous thing we can be. Only when we are vulnerable can we truly connect and be open to intimacy.
3. Clarity: Transparency and lucidity of vision and thought. Not just an uber popular, kinda creepy song by Zedd. Clarity is that aha moment when everything is crystal clear and it all just makes sense. I find it comes to me when I’m not trying to achieve it, but allowing my mind to relax and focus. It’s one of those things that the harder you try to achieve it, the further away it may feel.
4. Equanimity: The evenness of mind to stand steady in the face of stress or challenge. I didn’t really “get” equanimity until last weekend, when a very wise friend told me it could best be explained by the phrase, “It’s all good.” The next day, I was meditating on this phrase at the beginning of a particularly challenging beach yoga session. (I know, boo-hoo, poor me.) Still, it was hot, with no wind, black flies biting. The teacher began by saying, “I was reading something this morning about equanimity…” Aha.
5. Gratitude: An intentional appreciation of what and who you have. An acceptance and explicit acknowledgment of what life brings you. Not taking anything for granted. As psychologist Robert Emmons notes, “Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present.”
6. Creativity: The use of your imagination to produce something—a thought, an object, really anything. Creativity implies a childlike playfulness, having the courage to make mistakes and keep pushing on. We desperately need more creativity in education and in the workplace. Never forget: you were once a child and some part of you always should be.
7. Authenticity: Walking the walk. The real you. The most honest “way of being.” To be authentic is to accept your self as is and offer that self to the world. The challenge is to learn to be OK with who you are and then… just be.
8. Passion: An incredibly intense and compelling desire for something (or someone) that is barely containable. And I think that’s the key. Your passion should be so palpable that it’s going to burst out of your eyeballs… but it just quite doesn’t. That’s what separates a crime of passion from the kind that makes you invest your whole being in the pursuit of your dreams and inspires others to follow you.
9. Compassion: Love and acceptance for another as if they were you. To treat them as you would want to be treated. To walk a mile in their shoes. To see through their eyes as if they are your own. Compassion for yourself is the first step in having compassion for others.
10. Love: Do I really have to explain this one? OK, just one quote: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower