I’ve discovered a terrible lie we’ve all been told. I’m sure you have heard it: hard work always pays off.
To that, I’d like to respectfully say: bullshit.
The myth that “nothing but hard work will bring you success (or happiness, or love)” used to run me ragged. What I’ve discovered is that the more I do what I enjoy, the more success (and happiness, and love) I feel. There is nothing hard or work-like about it.
Relax and Listen To Your Body’s Wisdom
When you have to force yourself to do something that feels like a struggle, you are essentially going against your body’s wisdom. Your body knows when a situation or an activity is aligned with your inner wisdom (or not) and it will tell you so: by becoming either relaxed and healthy (or stressed and sick.) The signs are pretty clear. But if you’re not paying attention, you could miss them. Sometimes you might need to ignore the body’s messages temporarily. But you might chronically override your body’s messages and miss the life that was meant for you.
Relax and Notice What You Love
You might be pretty good about following the signs, there are things we miss. As we evolve, our tastes change, and if we are not paying attention, we may continue down a path long after we should have turned off.
For years, I ignored a part of me that was screaming to be recognized –my artistic nature– since childhood, in favor of striving for a goal that seemed more “realistic” or socially acceptable. The first phase of my career was in hospitality because that was my father’s line of work. I worked in mental health facilities which made me feel useful. I had a fantastic journey teaching yoga for 20+ years, (which I did and do love) but was constantly greedy for some sort of outside approval: a fashionable studio, a great salary, an exotic location, lots of appreciative students.
Even when we achieve things that make us happy, the nature of life is change. We get something and want something else. Satisfaction is elusive when we depend upon messages were coming from outside to guide us. We need to learn to listen to the voice of the heart. I couldn’t hear –or rather didn’t listen to–my inner message telling me to write and make art. I need these things like I need food.
What Nourishes You?
What is your favorite way to spend an afternoon? What makes your body light up and turn on? What makes your mind calm, clear and inspired? These messages are clear. What you do with the message is up to you. The process may not completely revealed in your time-frame. But if you make a practice of listening to your body’s wisdom, you’ll be rewarded with more frequent messages.
This is not to say there is no labor in doing what you love, and I’m not advocating laziness. I work like an indentured servant sometimes to organize, prepare, categorize and label my entire body of work for an exhibition. It is alot of work! But it isn’t really “work” if you know what I mean. My way of listening is to show up and do my “practice” of painting and writing every day and seeing what unfolds.
Do What You Love
It’s not much more complicated than this. But you can make it complicated. Many of us have self-imposed rules, or externally imposed rules. We have belief systems that subvert our truth. Or we don’t know what we love because we have endless distractions that hijack our attention and sabotage our awareness. This is truly a tragedy. When you relax and listen to your body’s wisdom your intentions are attuned to your actions.
Simply this: take time out every day to settle in and pay attention to your body’s messages. Listen to what circumstances make you hum, and what make you want to groan or grunt. Write down your observations throughout the day, or in the evenings before you go to bed. Then, (and this is the hard part) ACT on that wisdom. It doesn’t have to be big– just let your daily decisions be based on the information your body tells you. Let go of what needs to be recycled. Embrace what makes you thrive. Then let go and allow things to unfold.
The more often you choose in alignment with your intuition, the more your inner wisdom will speak to you.
Here is the 3-step process:
1. Know your truth by listening to your body’s subtle messages
2. Make choices based on this truth
3. Let go of attachment to outcomes
Do a free write for these three points, or better yet, keep a daily journal, and see what you discover.