Do you make it a regular practice to check in with your feelings – asking yourself what FEELS good? It’s a worthwhile practice to cultivate as it’s our feelings that motivate and drive us.
The only reason that we engage in any action or behaviour is usually because we’re hoping that it will give us a particular emotional outcome. For example, we spend lots of time planning holidays or experiences because of the happy feelings that we hope they will produce.
Yet often we’re so focused on the end-point – the destination, that we miss the actual journey. And then when we reach the destination, we may realise that even though we’ve achieved our goal, it’s not quite what we wanted or it doesn’t fulfil us. Or maybe the holiday or experience doesn’t live up to our expectations or help us feel like we were hoping it would. And oftentimes we don’t even pause to acknowledge our achievement before we’ve rushed on to the next thing…
That’s what mindfulness teaches us – to be aware and to live in the present moment. So if we can reflect on what we’d like more of in our lives – and look underneath the desire to work out why we want that, we can then use our feelings as a practical guide to make good choices.
We usually plan activities or experiences or want material things – or even want a relationship or a partner in our life – because we think that those ‘things’, experiences or people will bring us a particular feeling. We often put off truly living in the present moment – and instead wait for ‘some day‘ to come…that point in time when you’ll maybe get to have those material things or experiences or people in your life. Until then, maybe you’re putting up with going through your days feeling like you’re ‘existing’ and waiting for the weekend or the next holiday, when you’ll be able to feel like you’re truly living again – instead of choosing to live for and feel fully alive in each moment.
A good example of how this works in practice.
- We may feel bored with our job and dream of giving it all up and travelling around the world. So if we tune into our feelings we can work out what’s the underlying feeling that is driving that desire?
- Although giving up the day job and going travelling may be a great thing to do – the desire to do this may actually be because we’re craving more freedom in our lives. So rather than taking drastic action and handing in our notice to our employer, we could explore how to incorporate more freedom in our lives in smaller ways each and every day as a starting point.
- This may involve saying no to an activity that doesn’t interest you, or taking time for a proper lunch break and getting outside and going for a walk in the park. Or you could plan to have a weekend away once a month. These actions will all start to create that sense of inner freedom, without necessarily meaning you have to make such a dramatic change in your circumstances.
- Making smaller, incremental changes in your life in this way also make the changes practical, realistic and sustainable and help you to cultivate and maintain a growth mindset. You establish new neural networks and beliefs to support your growth and learning and create positive feedback loops of what’s possible when you embrace learning, playing and exploring, rather than staying with the tried and tested and fixed way of being.
- From these small changes, you can establish new patterns and try out whether something works well for you or not by regularly checking in with your feelings about it. You may find that these changes are enough and you’ve achieved the outcome you were desiring (more freedom in your life). Or you may still want to give up your job and try something new but taking this incremental approach means you’ve now developed the confidence and certainty that this is the right action to take and you’ve moved closer towards attaining that bigger goal.
For me, feeling a sense of freedom is one of my key drivers in life – it’s what helps me to thrive in my life, work and business. I often check in with my feelings before taking a particular course of action to see whether this will give me a greater sense of freedom or make me feel more restricted. Something that looks like it will be a good thing to do may turn out not to be if I feel it’s going to create a feeling of restriction. By tuning into my feelings, they act as a powerful inner compass to guide me to make good choices.
All we ever have is the now and that’s where life actually happens. Yet most of our waking hours are spent reliving events from our past in our minds or projecting or ruminating about what’s going to happen in the future. We mainly miss the NOW – the actual journey of our life. So visualise and get happy and excited about all that you want to create in the future – but make sure you enjoy and experience the delicious present moment as well – that’s why it’s called the ‘present’ moment – as each second of life is the true gift that we’ve been given!
What makes you feel happy and excited in your life? What are the feelings underlying YOUR dreams and desires? Let me know in the comments box below.
At MindFlame, we coach and train people to help them gain more clarity about what feels good and excites them and how to create more of this in their life and work. If you’d like help in this area, please visit our Coaching and Mentoring, Consultancy Services and Training and Development pages for more details.
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