Remember the television hits, I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched?
With the snap of a finger, wishes were instantly granted, and life (no matter the struggle) was always good within 30 minutes, when the episode came to an end.
These two shows were hits because they created a fantasy world where fulfillment was easy. We all wanted to believe life could be so simple. . .
But then we all grew up, had our own families, lived a lot of life, and realized a hard but universal truth:
It takes a lot more than television “magic” to experience fulfillment in life, work and relationships.
To live an authentic, fulfilling life, you have to start by understanding the difference between essence and your emotions. Click To Tweet
To live an authentic, fulfilling life, you have to start by understanding the difference between essence and your emotions.
Case in point:
I am NOT always HAPPY. (emotion) But I can still find SATISFACTION. (essence)
I may get ANGRY. (emotion) But I can still have DIGNITY and GRACE. (essences)
I may be AFRAID. (emotion) But I can still show COURAGE. (essence)
If I experience a big loss or disappointment, my emotions will try to take center stage and insist that I focus on my circumstances. My fear and anxiety will try to persuade me to FIX my situation as quickly as possible, but this is precisely where I need to stop and anchor myself in my desire for an experience of essence.
Hard to do in a traumatic situation, but if I start with two simple questions, I can find my way through the emotion back to my essence.
- Question #1: What is the feeling I want to experience in this moment?
- Question #2: What are the essence qualities that are missing from this present experience?
Here is how I might answer:
I want to experience calm and clarity.
I want to be able to trust in the process my life takes.
I want to have faith in myself.
I would like to experience more ease, confidence and freedom.
When I ask and answer these two questions, my focus naturally shifts from what I resist about my circumstances to what I want to experience. And the impact this shift has on my feeling state is often profound.
Here’s a quick exercise to help you identify the essence qualities that matter to you.
To begin, try thinking back to a moment in life where you felt the most fulfilled. Once you’ve identified the moment, ask yourself: What were the feelings I experienced during this time?
- Maybe you had peace of mind in the face of uncertainty.
- Maybe you felt content in spite of the chaos around you.
- Maybe you were incredibly patient during a trying time.
- Or maybe you were able to accept something about your painful past.
In those moments, you were triumphing over the power of your emotional reactions to the circumstances, and choosing instead to focus on essence.
- You weren’t medicating your fears.
- You weren’t trying to control the future.
- And you weren’t riding on an emotional high or descending into despair.
You were simply being true to yourself.
This week, spend some time thinking about the life experience you want to have. I’m not talking about outcomes, a change in the circumstances or material things.
What are the feeling experiences you want as a steady, stable backdrop to the daily ups and downs?
This week, consider the essence qualities that matter most to you, and if you need help identifying the ways to think about essence, be sure to download my list of essence words by clicking here.
Spend some time looking over the list (thinking back to that moment in your life of greatest fulfillment). Once you’ve identified two or three words, set aside time to engage with essence in small ways. If the essence quality is “beauty,” pause to enjoy something beautiful in your environment, like a flower or a sunset. If the essence is “community” then call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Craving some ease? Do my basic Practice by putting your attention on your muscular tension and breathing to relax that tension.
Two of my most treasured essences are inner peace and wisdom. Even when life delivers an unpleasant surprise or outcome I’d rather not have, my focus on experiencing these essence qualities always helps to ensure that what I say and do will be authentic, balanced and truthful.
Of course, authenticity, balance and truthfulness are also high on my essence list!
Take good care : )