Have you ever considered giving yourself a whack over the head?
Sometimes that's what it takes to put things in perspective. To see things differently. To change your life for the better.
Some people have an ability to see the writing on the wall. They are blessed with a built-in radar that helps them navigate potential disaster, to avoid hitting the ice berg.
For the majority of us however, the umpteen challenges that will occur in our short lifetime, will take us completely by surprise. We can't predict or control when bad stuff is going to hit the fan. What we can control is our attitude and attention and how we choose to engage both, during difficult times.
For a period in my life I was like Captain Smith on the Titanic. Constantly lighting more boilers, pushing the engines too hard and going way too fast. My work and life was governed by: A) the need for speed, B) the need for more and C) the need to place unreasonable expectations on myself.
Then one day....WHACK.
I was whacked over the head so hard, it forced me to stop dead in my tracks. Up until then, nothing and no one could have stopped me pushing the engines as hard as I could. Nor could anyone have made me realize that pushing harder was beginning to result in diminishing returns.
Sadly it took a cancer diagnosis to get my full undivided attention. I had little say in determining how hard that whack was to be. And let me tell you it was both hard and inevitable.
There was a silver lining though.
Today I'm healthy and stronger than I've ever been and look back on the experience with gratitude. Yes...gratitude. I wouldn't be where I am today or experiencing the most phenomenal changes in my life without that whack over the head.
As a result I now have a powerful built-in awareness system.
And I've learned this:
Wake up calls are an important and necessary part of our journey. The reality is, they are a gift. They offer us some of the greatest lessons we will ever have the opportunity to learn in life.
I'm certain we experience them much more than we realize too. And I'm encouraged by this.
But the truth is, we don't all use them to drive meaningful change.
What I've discovered about wake up calls is that recognizing them as a life lesson is not enough to create real change. It's our ability to sustain our attention on those lessons. To wake up from our auto-pilot lives every single day and live those lessons over and over.
It's our ability to re-awaken again and again that effects change.
There are three things I wish I'd known when I left university and set out in the world. But would I go back and change things? I don't think so. Everything that's happened in my life has helped shape me into who I am. I certainly have no regrets.
I'm full of gratitude to pass on these lessons which have brought about profound change in my life....may they bring you the change you wish to see in the world too.
1# life is difficult and relatively short.
When we accept life is difficult, life is no longer as difficult. Looking upon our worries with an open and curious mind is a powerful way to move through them. We certainly can't escape them. The more we run away from a problem, the more we are actually running into it. So next time you find yourself challenged by adversity, try welcoming it. Be curious. Ask yourself: why is this happening to me? How can I grow from it? And know this..... after enlightenment comes the laundry... In other words... after the dream vacation, the new car, the promotion or the new house, comes the reality of our lives. Nothing in life is permanent or perfect. And when reality kicks in and we feel bored by the laundry, remember.... life is so fleeting. We are here and then we're gone. Let that guide all that you do.
2# Any change we wish to see must start from within us.
Three weeks after diagnosis, I began my journey of reinvention and changed everything in my life. I started running, meditating and doing yoga every single day. I became a vegan. I believed to the core of my being, that my survival depended upon it. But then one day something changed. I remember the exact moment, running on my treadmill. I was struck by the realization that I wasn't doing these things to survive, I was doing them to thrive. I was becoming a better version of myself. I was shaking off my hardened outer shell and rediscovering my inner child. I discovered when we feel good in ourselves, we become better humans. We create a powerful halo and a ripple effect to the outside world. If you need a little inspiration on this point, listen to Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson.
3# our bodies are the gateway to wisdom.
Your body is the only body you have. It is what will hopefully carry you through a complete life time. So long as you respect it. It is also the gateway to wisdom. But we become cut off from our bodies. The older we get the more disconnected we become from the body and the more we live our lives in our heads. The left brain in particular plays a dominant role. We're lulled into a false sense of security, that our bodies can withstand anything. If only more of us could recognize that the body is so much more than a means of getting from place to place. We gain such tremendous insight from listening to our bodies, from bringing our attention to our pain, our hearts and our gut. Most of the lessons and answers we seek in life, can be found within ourselves and the lessons our body can teach us.
One more thing...
Why not give yourself a whack over the head before life does it for you?
Pay close attention to the wake up calls in your life.
Listen to them deeply.
Look upon them as your wisest guide.
Then check in with your gut and instincts.
What are they telling you?
Are there things you wish you'd known earlier in life?....What do you do to put things in perspective?