Learning the following five truths has enabled me to become a better person, a better lawyer, a better writer, a better friend, a better colleague, a better daughter, a better sister, and a better girlfriend. These lessons have enabled me to fall in love with myself and my life, and with an amazing guy who I am so grateful to have in my life. Practicing these lessons has allowed me to create a life that I LOVE, and has given me the gift of being surrounded by people who inspire me on a daily basis to live with love, integrity, and laughter.
So today I wanted to share with you these honest reflections, and my gratitude for these lessons that have enabled me to make some profound changes in 2013.
1. I am enough
This past year I have become more aware of the expectations I place on myself to be something other than, or “more” than, who I am.
I used to consistently define myself by doing; by achieving things, and crossing items off to-do lists. I would place so many expectations of perfection on myself that no matter how hard I tried, I would never get there. It was never enough. I was never enough.
I admit I still struggle with this from time to time - but more and more I am operating from a place of enough. I am learning that enough is the place from which all life grows. It is the place from which all great achievement starts and all great contribution is made. It is also a pretty amazing place to be.
Unrealistic expectations are easily fostered in our culture, but happiness flows from the inside out, not outside in. Only you can decide if you are enough. Nothing can make you, or what you have, enough. The secret is simply to allow yourself to be enough now.
This vital lesson can be summed up in two simple sentences.
You never get there. You are already there.
Incorporating more expressions of gratitude into my life has been one of the most life saving habits I have created this year. I am much more aware on a daily basis of the many things I have to be grateful for than I was at the beginning of the year, and I have seen the profound effect this awareness has had on my overall well being.
Taking a moment at the end of the day to write out a few things that I am grateful for allows me to step back from the busyness of my day and gain perspective on what's important in my life. Acknowledging for a moment how fortunate I am allows me to go to bed with my mind at peace with what is.
Reflecting on those little moments from the day that made me smile also enables me to learn what truly makes me happy so that I can incorporate more of those moments into my life. Through this I have learned that those moments for me are moments of connection; moments I share a laugh or exchange a smile with someone, moments where I am able to brighten someone's day.
Expressing gratitude is incredibly powerful and I am so grateful for its presence in my life.
Real connection. No games. No pretending. No masks of who you think you should be or who you think others want you to be.
Real connection is why we are here. Its what makes life worthwhile.
At the beginning of this year connection was something that I thought I had figured out. I thought I was pretty good at it. But as I began experimenting in search of what was missing in my life, I realised that to a large extent, it was connection. Real connection.
I realised that although I had all kinds of relationships in my life, I was often connecting in them on a superficial level. I rarely allowed the relationship to scratch below the surface. I couldn't bear to let others see the entire me. It was too real. But that's just it. It has to scratch below the surface to mean anything. That's when connection counts. That's when life moves to a new level.
Connection on a new level has been one of the most (if not the most) important changes I have made this year. It has reduced my stress levels; helped me to stop catastrophizing; increased my confidence, happiness, and my overall well being; opened up new opportunities; and has been key to finding that “something is missing” in my life.
4. The common element: LOVE
These above three lessons have a common element. They have a shared current that gives them power. And that is love.
I am enough encompasses self love and love of what is. It means loving who you are and your current circumstances despite there being imperfections, changes you would like to make, and goals you would like to attain.
Gratitude encompasses the expression of love for others, for ourselves, for our circumstances and for our surroundings. It means feeling and expressing love for all that we have and everything we are able to give, receive and experience.
Connection encompasses love experienced with others. It is not restricted to romantic love, or familial love. I feel love for others in all aspects of my life, work included. It also encompasses connection with others through a common passion or love of something.
I bring LOVE into my life a million times more than I ever have before. I bring love to my each of my relationships, and I try to bring love into each of my actions. I even bring love into my work, which previously I believed was impossible.
To feel love in all areas of my life is a pretty amazing thing, and it is something I am no longer willing to live without.
5. The common cause: vulnerability
All of these above lessons have a common cause, a common enabler. And that is vulnerability.
Vulnerability is essential to well being. It is the heart. It is the core of everything real and meaningful. It can be uncomfortable, but it is worth every minute. In order to love ourselves, express gratitude, and connect meaningfully with others we must be vulnerable. There is no other way.
This year I realized that there was a huge part of me that I had been hiding. I had surrounded myself with so many walls and I was terrified to be open. I refused to allow myself to be vulnerable with anyone.
As I gained courage to allow myself to be seen, I gained an increased capacity for love in all areas of my life and an appreciation of the power of vulnerability. I’ve come to believe that all of the changes I have made this year are as a result of just that: the courage to be vulnerable; to allow myself to be seen.
I’ve also come to believe that vulnerability is what true courage means. As Brene Brown has expressed, "Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language -- it's from the Latin word cor, meaning heart -- and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”
This quote sums up the core of the lessons I have learned in 2013: courage to be; courage to love; and courage to bring love into everything that I do. And it is with this new found courage that I intend to grow my life in 2014.
Live from LOVE and a life you LOVE will come to you.