It happened at a popular Starbucks in Chicago’s Lincoln Park on a busy Friday morning as commuters grabbed their first cup of Joe before heading to work.
I heard four words I’d never heard before: “I love my life.”
“Was that me? Did I just say that out loud?”
I turned to look behind me and the reaction of the seven patrons in line confirmed the answer was an unequivocal “yes!”
The words had spilled out of me. (It was as if an alien had momentarily taken over my body.)
The eyes of those behind me seemed to talk, and the only thing I heard them say was, “FREAK.”
And I understood them. I was thinking the SAME thing!
Who says they love their life? I mean first, who really feels that way and if you do, who says it out loud? The simple answer: freaks do.
If only I’d chosen to talk about Chicago’s horrifically cold winter, the crazy people putting furniture in the street to reserve a parking space, or the unusually long wait at Starbucks that morning…I’d have had a conversation going and possibly some new friends.
But I didn’t. Instead, I said, “I love my life.”
I felt not only embarrassment but also shame.
Fast forward. I’m at an annual four-day retreat I’ve attended for the last four years. The same individuals are in the room from previous years. We’re asked to give a three-minute update on our year. As I listened to others report on illness, divorce, betrayal and financial hardship, I told myself I could not share my love of my life in light of such pain.
And I didn’t. I shut down my voice and obeyed my inner critic who told me “you can’t say you love your life. It’s not ‘appropriate.’ You’ll make others uncomfortable. You’ll break up the group dynamic…you’ll be a freak!”
Then it struck me.
Loving life is a choice…not a fact.
Here me out. I have challenges. We all do. I have kids that get sick in the middle of the night. The in-law that never stops pushing the boundaries. The projects that fail, health scares, family death, and then some.
But I’ve chosen to love my life with these challenges not just in the absence of them.
I love my life with its imperfections. These imperfections and challenges rub me to open myself to life, to have more compassion, and more love…if I choose.
In our society it’s not popular to love your life…or certainly not to talk about it. It’s more common to focus on and discuss the gaps and inadequacies.
I believe we can do both.
As a life coach for 15 plus years I understand the desire to grow and progress. My entire business is built on helping individuals fill the gap between who they are and who they are capable of becoming. Inherently this requires looking at what is lacking.
But that’s where the focus on what is lacking ends.
When clients come to me they usually provide me with a list of goals they want to immediately start working on. Instead, what we do first is clear up the drains and move the individual into a state of well-being, because it is from that state of well-being that other good things are attracted and created.
What my clients experience next surprises them. The unidentified ideal career change becomes clear. Time for their most important work emerges. New business often unexpectedly falls from the sky. Relationships that were once challenged begin to flourish. And these things often occur with no “work” on the problem itself.
Science has confirmed what eastern philosophy has preached for thousands of years: our brain when at positive performs and creates at levels that far supersede the brain when it is neutral, negative, or stressed.
What does this mean?
The only way to get the life you want is to love the life you have.
We are called to love the life we have today with all its warts and perceived problems.
No, I didn’t always love my life. I spent a decade worrying, crying, and fearing that I’d never get where I wanted to be. Would I ever get married, out of debt, have children or find my passion. I was miserable and from that misery I got more of the same.
The real problem was I focused on the problems.
The other problem was I thought I shouldn’t have any problems. I’d wait to love my life when it was struggle-free.
The third problem was that I didn’t find nor embrace the meaning or “opportunity” that lied in the midst of my struggles and that supported my growth and evolvement.
The cultural myth is that we will be happy when we get “there.” The truth is our happiness lies in the process of creating, not arriving at the actual destination.
When we live with an “I-love-my-life” mindset we are intellectually, emotionally and spiritually rich and ripe to contribute at our highest levels.
Yes, struggles happen to us. Some worse than others. We all have stories. What we do with these challenges and struggles is what shapes our destiny.
A friend of mine recently shared the story about her friend’s child who had been in the hospital with a life threatening condition for over a month. While my friend was walking with the mother in the hospital corridor, the mother said, “you know, despite all of this craziness, I still love my life.”
This mother was likely in THE most difficult period of her life and yet she still possessed an, “I-love-my-life” mindset. That’s a choice.
My mission is to help create a million “I-love-my-life” minds.
I believe when we begin with an “I-love-my-life” mind, we take the first step to become the deliberate, growth-minded, and spiritually awake leaders our world desperately needs.
It is from this state that we become the catalysts for positive and meaningful change in the world.
Imagine what the world would be like if 1000’s of people loved their life and shared that love with the world.
Imagine if it was refreshing rather than ‘freaky’ to hear “I love my life” in the Starbucks line.
As a daily reminder and symbol of my commitment to no longer hide that I love my life, I have made this bracelet to wear and share.
It reminds me that this life is a gift. It is temporary. And loving it boldly and unconditionally is a daily choice…one that can change our world.
Love your life…today…and shine on brilliantly, my friend!