Most of us live according to a set of beliefs that we acquired as children, that may or may not correspond to who we are (or want to be) as adults. Your family probably taught you their version of right and wrong, the correct way to behave in certain circumstances, how to communicate. Speak up and ask for what you want. Don’t let them push you around. Work hard to get ahead. Many of us were never taught to identify with, much less follow our inspiration.
But different cultures have different worldviews. In another part of the world, another family is teaching their child to speak softly, don’t call attention to yourself, honour your family, be humble and unassuming. We take on these beliefs as Truth and incorporate them into our way of showing up in the world. When you settle into a pure experience of the present moment, you realize that you don’t need to do that any more. You can live life on your own terms.
When you align with your natural strengths, you have energy for your projects because they will fill you with passion.
A certain amount of discipline is necessary to feed inspiration. You can spend your life in reaction mode, responding to what life sends your way. These days, being connected to the whole wide world, it is possible to put off your own projects in the unending quest to empty out the inbox before you start on your own thing. This is like breathing in only half way.
Or, you can choose a different approach. Harness those horses and let the momentum propel you in the direction you choose. Steer. What happens in your life is largely your choice. Of course there are unseen, outside forces at work (or so it seems sometimes) but ultimately, its up to you. How do you want to use your remaining time here?
Recognize your natural strengths and talents.
What feels important to me is not the same as what I was taught to value growing up. I’m by nature a quiet person, I like to read and write, and to create things. This requires a fair amount of solitude and day-dreaming. These activities nurture me and help me to sow the seeds of my creative life. This makes me happy!
But my culture and much of the world have shown me that productivity is to be valued over quiet time (if you haven’t read Quiet yet, or seen Susan Cain’s TED talk, please have a look.) This nod toward the power of introversion changed my world view.
It’s taken courage and perhaps a bit of rebelliousness for me to let myself do the things I am inclined to do: which sometimes looks like a whole lotta nothing. This is the nature of creativity—it needs space and quiet attention to flourish. It needs boundaries and protection. It needs respect. You don’t yank on the crocus sprouts, you provide protection them to come forth on their own when the inspiration hits.
Without transcending these foundational beliefs there is no way to develop an authentic relationship to the present moment.
And without this ability, everything you do will be colored by others’ expectations and wishes. Effort or attention is required—some kind of formal practice– in order to strip away the conditioning. Otherwise, the overwhelming momentum behind the original impulse will be impossible to redirect. The way to stop the momentum is to stop yourself –stop your mind– long enough to throw a wrench into the machinery. This is what happens when you sit down to meditate. Observing the mind, then noticing the breaks between thought is what clears the slate for something new to come in. The open possibility between habitual thoughts seeds creativity. Original mind generates original content.
Live your own life
I’m finished living someone else’s life. I’m living my own now. You can too. The right path for you is the one that inspires you.
Feed your inspiration to find the right path.
What makes you happy? If you are reading this, I assume you are not starving or destitute. Why would you spend your life deliberately doing what you don’t want to do? Sure you need to take care of your basic needs and that often entails doing stuff you don’t like. But I’m talking something bigger.