One of the inquiries that most frequently comes up when I am talking to others is how to feel more powerful: in relationships, our work, and any other aspect of life.
We are often challenged by only seeing examples of how to be powerful that we may be less than encouraged by. These supposedly empowered people might appear in some ways that don’t feel right and authentic to us. The confusion can be helped with a little semantics—the difference between someone who is powerful and someone who is empowered. Empowerment comes from deep within whereas power develops as a result of relationship dynamics. Power can come from an empowered or a disempowered place.
To learn to be more empowered, we can ask ourselves how we can come from a deeper place of power inside of ourselves—that is what I would like to examine here.
When we explore our personal power, we might be challenged by the examples of power I eluded to earlier. These examples of overuse or misuse of power are the result of identification with the false (or egoic) self. This false self leads us to believe that we are in power when others are not. It leads us to believe that maintaining this relationship is what it means to be in our full selves. This dynamic shows up in ways that are both subtle and obtuse.
The ego needs to continually be fed or pumped up. It needs proof that it is in fact secure. It will approach situations so that it can receive this bolstering—but underneath, there is a constant nagging sense that the security of the position can be lost at any moment. When we are coming from this place of ego, we may have experiences that help us feel powerful for a bit; for example, we might get praise or be put in a position of power.
We can at times confuse these experiences with having arrived at a place of empowerment. However, when we do not get these bolstering experiences or when something goes wrong, we can easily see how unstable our position is. What you might notice is a lack of consistency; that we’re sort of up and down and that we might need more and more, and then more again in order to maintain this sense of security or power or whatever it is.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the ego. It’s not a matter of getting rid of it. It is a very important part of who we are. But we do want to see it for its role in our lives rather than sourcing our power from this place. An alternative is to source our power from a much deeper place—the core of who we are. There are many different terms for this; regardless of what we call it, this deeper place inside of us creates a more sustainable source of power. The first step is to begin to discern between the two.
Another way to come from a stronger place inside of ourselves is to use the tool of connecting with resources. Simply put, resources are energies in our consciousness that provide us with real depth of connection, energy, feelings of security, etc. A resource can be a spirit, a concept, a totem, or anything else that holds significant energetic power for us.
There are many different ways to approach the concept of resources. Here, I am going to write about it in the most general way. As an example, lets look at something like compassion. You can connect to this feeling—this energy, this way of being—in any way that’s right for you and then find ways to bring this through your own being and out into your life.
As we do this, we actually become stronger. One way to do this is simply by being more intentional. In other words, by stating that “I would like to be more…” (in this case, “compassionate”). When you do this, you are drawing on supportive and infinite energies to help strengthen you in any given moment. You can also ask for help. For example, “Please help me be more compassionate in this situation.” Whether or not you know who you are asking, you are going to benefit. You can also call on these resources through a practice. A practice helps you understand the resource you are working with more deeply and also how to more effectively work with it. In our example, you would increase your compassion through a practice by saying, “okay, in these certain circumstances or in a situation like this, I’m going to look at how I can be more compassionate.” Or, you can look for examples of compassion and draw from those.
As we begin to work with resources, we connect with the core aspects of who we are and develop a deeper understanding of them while also fortifying and learning how to act from them. This both confirms our power and helps us draw from a deeper, more sustainable place. This strengthening process in and of itself helps us detach from our identification with the egoic level and provides ways for us to be powerful that are also aligned with the kind of person we want to be.
Our work with resources and how we source our power are deep topics that require a bit of time to understand. If you have not already, take a moment to sign up for my mailing list so that you can continue to receive information that will help you to step fully into your power and let your light shine.
For more about self empowerment take a look at my article >>> “On Trusting Ourselves.”
For me, leading ceremony is not about making something happen. Yes, there are structural and energetic components to attend to, but the real work is creating a space for people to have a direct spiritual connection inside and outside themselves.
It is the art of un-doing, the space holding, the emptying.
We have been taught to look to someone else to tell us our deepest knowing and show us what spiritual connection means to us. We have given up our own power and because of this, we are eager to place it on others. This is hurting us individually and collectively quite deeply.
For me, leading is as much about disentangling from this dynamic as it is about the creation of the ceremony. If you want to deepen your spiritual practice, learn to listen. If you want to create a ceremony, learn to listen.
It does not matter whether you get a form just right – that your hand moves precisely the right way, that your prayer is spoken perfectly, that you even know exactly what you are doing.
I say this as an artist and someone who deeply honors a well-developed technique, and as an academic who values knowing. These are beautiful embellishments, but not necessities. What is necessary is the unmediated connection with spirit. A connection that is yours and yours alone.
For me, my non-doing speaks louder than my doing. My lack of showmanship is a vehicle for others to see their own brilliance. The emptiness or absence of activities is an opportunity for others to step forward.
Disentangling from the misplaced spiritual power dynamic is complex. As soon as the space is open, it is often filled with all sorts of things that are not in service of direct spiritual connection or upliftment to try and put the familiar dynamic back in place.
Stepping out of the “I have the spiritual truth” game brings up unconscious fears. Fears because suddenly we are faced with our own spiritual nakedness and want desperately for someone to wrap us in the blanket of “you don’t need to know because I do.” These fears can be projected on leaders in the form of “you need to do more so that I feel secure.” The remedy is that we vulnerably step in and ask for our own spiritual connection.
It can also call forward an ego-driven superiority simply because the person experiences that lack of condescension and middle-manning as an indication of limitation. They have bought in, so deeply, to the idea that competence and spiritual connection mean dominance and oppression. The remedy again is to work on our own spiritual connection. Direct contact makes these dynamics untenable.
When I am talking about divine feminine principles, I am not talking about goddess work. There are plenty (and most setting predominantly are) goddess works that support the patriarchal structure that keep us detached from our inner knowing all while having a fabulous goddessy face.
I am talking deep in the bones dismantling of the structures that keep us from ourselves and our deepest spiritual truth. I am talking the remembering of how to steward our own spiritual journey and gather the wisdom from the universe one handful at a time. This requires something totally different.
Yes, it is divine feminine work. It is the work of non-doing. It is the void, the vessel, the opening. And like the feminine, it gets devalued, criticized, feared and condemned. And like the feminine, it has been told that it is nothing and that something needs to go in its place. It forgets its own value. Yet it gives and gives and gives to us because it is the divine mother herself understanding that we, as children, need time to grow up.
So ceremony for me is not about doing something, it is about creating an opening – or in some cases working to create even a small crack so that this wisdom can find its way into the room and hopefully the world. Because I know that people with a direct spiritual connection can heal themselves and heal the world.
Throughout time, wisdom schools have developed during periods of spiritual and cultural transition. Wisdom schools emphasize a deep respect for the diverse experience of the individual and offer teachings to help with the natural spiritual unfolding of each student rather than provide a static doctrine to which one must adhere.
It is time for us to take our spiritual and personal growth back into our own hands, which is not to say that there is nothing to be learned from spiritual traditions and personal development theory. These things are rich storehouses of information that can serve us in many ways, and their traditions deserve to be respected and honored. We can benefit greatly from the wisdom of those who have walked before us.
However, any system that demands exclusive loyalty to itself over our personal truth is a corrupt system that, while it might teach us many things, will ultimately fail us.
Unfortunately, the teachings of personal empowerment that we are so in need of are limited in supply. We are taught through many established educational and religious structures—starting when we are very young—that intelligence and spiritual development is something that is endorsed through people and systems that are external to us. We are indoctrinated into giving up our own personal knowledge by the well-meaning caregivers of our childhood—who have also been damaged by the system.
Developing our own wisdom thus becomes a balance between learning from those who have walked before as well as from our own experience. Since many of us have been conditioned to give up our own truth, we benefit from learning how to engage and honor it. This allows us to have an honest and deep personal relationship with any teachings we encounter.
To connect to our own wisdom, we benefit from applying the intelligence of our senses. Even the most esoteric of teachings and the most abstract of theories can be validated in part by the senses. For example, if you were taught that god is love, you will have, if you pay attention, some sensation in your body of the truth or untruth of this proposition. This is a starting place for our own inner wisdom.
Likewise, we may be told that a spiritual guide feels or acts a certain way, a particular approach is healing, or a particular spiritual development tool works in a certain way. If we connect to it, we will sooner or later know the truth of those proposals.
In this way, we can listen, learn, and experiment with what we are taught by validating those lessons with our firsthand knowledge so that we may “know we know” rather than believing in something external to us.
When our own inner wisdom is combined with theoretical perspective and expansive and honed spiritual traditions, we have the ability to advance our own growth and aid in the transformation of others in a profound way. We can maintain respect for all teachings while simultaneously verifying what is taught through our personal experience. This marriage yields the birth of our spiritual empowerment.
This is extremely important as we learn to open ourselves to higher levels of consciousness. If we do not personally verify the information we receive, we can suffer from doubt that limits our effectiveness, we can more easily fall prey to misinformation and manipulation, and we deprive ourselves of our own true inner knowledge
One key to being more empowered in our life is self-acceptance—truly embracing all of ourselves, both the good and the not-so-good. When we embrace all of who we are, when we’re willing to move into a place of true acceptance, it eliminates a lot of confusion. It limits the other challenges that arise when we’re trying to be something else by adjusting ourselves to the external in an unproductive way. But accepting ourselves, as you likely know, is, is no small feat. It would be great if it were as easy as saying, “I accept myself completely.”
And in a way, there’s an aspect of self-acceptance that is just that simple. We make a choice at some point in time to fully accept who we are. However, the path to that moment can be quite long. On this path, we learn about the many different ways in which we’ve been conditioned to think that we need to act, behave, and feel differently than is really right for us. This kind of conditioning usually starts quite early in our lives. And, depending on what we have experienced, some of us have received excessive doses of it. For example, minority cultures experience this type of conditioning to an extreme.
However, all of us to some extent have received a message that who we are would be better if it were adjusted in some way. We experience this rather than the more supportive experience of being affirmed, and we need to expunge it. We instead need to find ways to appreciate who we are and what it is that we are bringing forward—naturally and intrinsically.
There is a lot to do to learn how to fully accept ourselves. For today, I will offer one simple tool to help you on this path to self-acceptance—look at the other side of the parts of yourself that you are being told should be adjusted. If you have a flaw or something that you think has been problematic for you in your life, examine how it is also a benefit to you. You can see the strength that’s on the other side. All strengths have weaknesses, all weaknesses have strengths. So when you do you take a look at some aspect of yourself that you thought was your biggest problem and you start to see how it actually might serve you in other aspects of your life, you will begin to see that context plays a large role in whether or not this part of you is in fact a challenge or a gift.
If it is challenging to see how it might be of benefit, imagine situations where it might serve you. In other words, employ some creative thinking—explore how and when this aspect of yourself might be a powerful ally. Then you can start to consciously use these aspects more and more productively in different areas of your life.
As you do this, you will find that it is naturally healing. It breaks through the belief that these things about us are wrong and need to be fixed. It shows us that no matter what they are, even our most challenging traits have some productive uses. This helps us accept ourselves in a deeper way. This self-acceptance then helps us grow our sense of empowerment.
For more about trusting yourself and your empowerment take a look at my article >>> “An Unstoppable Source for Your Personal Power.”
Compassion, freedom, love, integrity, vulnerability, and happiness are built on the bedrock of our trust in ourselves. When we can look in the eyes of the person standing in front of the mirror and know that we are showing up to the truth of who we are, we have everything.
Life’s betrayals do not just erode our trust of others, but they also leave us doubting ourselves. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we often blame ourselves for choosing the person who betrayed our trust in the first place. We might wonder what will stop us from making this kind of error again. This lack of trust with ourselves leaves us guarded.
This guarding actually perpetuates a cycle of disconnection; this disconnection opens the door to lower-frequency energies that impair our ability to operate at every level—furthering the challenges we might be having in these areas.
What makes it difficult to trust ourselves is less often about these challenging experiences themselves and more often about how we have been conditioned to relate to ourselves.
I was taught time and time again in the course of my life not to listen to myself. In many ways, I was taught that trusting myself was a form of arrogance—a blindness to seeing things as other people saw them. I was taught to think like other people and to interact on other people’s terms.
These things were taught to me under the guise of “getting along,” “loving others,” or even just passing the test.
The main message, through these experiences, was that my unique way of seeing and being was somehow wrong. I was taught that the clear messages from my soul needed to be adjusted to fit with the outside world rather than being a direct expression of it. I was taught that if I was in a situation where my needs and another person’s needs were at odds, then one of us was right and the other one was not—meaning there was always a high probability that I was in fact the one who was wrong.
Self-doubt then became the way—the backdrop of all of my experiences.
As a result, I was time and time again open to being hurt by others—in the ways that can only happen when we abandon ourselves. Because of this, my lack of trust with myself kept growing and I tried all kinds of ways to remedy this—most of them having to do with bolstering my ego.
I believe this is a common experience.
Since we all experience breaches in trust in our life, we all need to do repair work on our trust. We might first think that we need to figure out how and when to trust others, but we actually gain quite a bit more by learning how to deeply trust ourselves.
This is easier said than done. Quite often, as I just highlighted with my own experience, we have learned how not to trust ourselves both very early and in fundamental ways. Our lack of trust in ourselves is often insidious and difficult for us to see. It might show up as an ongoing feeling of anxiety for no apparent reason. It might leave us unable to see opportunities. Or, we might just be unable to accept the help we need.
We benefit from relearning that the way that we are is, by its design, perfect. This does not mean that we don’t need to grow and change or that we are not aided by questioning our own intentions. However, we are actually better able to do these things as we learn to trust ourselves more deeply, as a deep trust and respect for who we are actually makes it possible to see our limitations and to make changes that help us be better people.
If we can remember that we are made in a way that has its own inherent wisdom, and that this wisdom is very much needed by both ourselves and the greater world, then we can open up to new levels of trusting our self.
While we may at times make mistakes or errors in judgment, we can return to a trust in the fundamental goodness and perfection of our nature. And then, kindly guide ourselves in the direction of making better and better decisions as we move forward through new knowledge, new skills, and improved discernment.
As we come to deeply know our own truth, we can rely on it more fully. This allows us to make choices and put ourselves in situations that are truly right for us. It allows us to navigate the many complex situations that we find ourselves in in the course of our life.
Trusting ourselves is also a skill that we develop. As we work to be more honest, more caring, more respectful, we become a person whom we can truly trust. As we practice these skills, they become stronger and our lives become a reflection of our character. We feel this growth, and as a result, trust ourselves more.
My wish for all of us is that we know the fundamental goodness of who we are. That we realize the perfection of how we are made. And, through this, we develop the foundations for trusting ourselves in ways that restore our health, wholeness, and connection with others.
For more about trusting yourself take a look at my article >>> “An Unstoppable Source for Your Personal Power.”
One of the simplest ways to make really radical and fast changes in our life is to be intentional. Specifically, we should set an intention each and every day for how we want that day to go, what we’re going to focus on, what ultimate result we’re looking for, or how we want to feel. Setting such intentions is the difference between an undirected, unconscious day and having focus for our energy and a frame through which we can become more conscious.
Intention serves a couple of different purposes. Foremost, it helps us more easily and more readily get from point A to point B. Furthermore, it helps us create more of what we want as we become more aware and conscious of our wants and needs. It also helps us get clearer about what is in our way.
Overall, by being intentional, we become more conscious. One of the things that I have clients do is to develop a practice—a specific activity that you do in order to raise your consciousness. This works because you craft the specific activity, time, place, and frame, allowing you to see things more completely. For example, if you are practicing compassion, you might choose a daily activity that helps you understand what compassion really means and how to be compassionate more effectively. Instead of being compassionate “just because” or only when the mood strikes you, you are now doing it in a specific way at a specific time; this frame allows you to see compassion differently.
The foundation of any practice is being intentional. So, if there is a way that we would like to move through our life, if there is a result that we would like to see, the easiest and best way to get there is to be clear about it beforehand. If you were traveling to a town that you had never been to before and you didn’t know its name, even if you knew what direction it was in, it would be very difficult to know when you arrived there. You simply would not have clear knowledge of it. When we clarify what we want from a specific period of time, being intent not only helps us to get there—it helps us to see that we are there.
When we set an intention, it helps to align our heart, mind, and energy with that intention. This means that we are more likely to act in ways that are in alignment with our intention without even thinking about it—setting an intention is like laying down a track for where we want to go.
The best way to work with intentions is to experiment with them. This can be as simple as waking up in the morning and writing down what your intention is for that particular day. You could establish a specific designated time to spend at your altar or some other special spot in your home where you clarify how it is that you’d like to move through your day or what you would like to feel. This experiment will lead you to a deeper understanding of intention and its benefits.
As you experiment with your intentions, you may notice moments in which reactivity overtakes intentionality. Check out my article “When Reaction Beats Intention” for clues on how to turn reactions into responses –> When Reaction Beats Intention
When we react rather than act with intention, it shapes our experience and our outcome. When we are reactive, we simply respond to a stimulus that we have encountered. This can be a person, place, or thing. Usually, our reaction is unconscious. We just do whatever happens as a result. For example, a person comes into the room, they say something to us, and we immediately respond with whatever is true for us in that moment. This could be something beneficial that really makes the situation run quite smoothly. Or, it could be the type of reaction that’s more defensive or problematic, and as a result it creates a disruption or challenge. Either way, it’s simply a response that is not considered.
On the other hand, being intentional means that, regardless of the stimulus we experience, we have a reason for our response. So in other words, if we want to build connection, or clarity, or what have you, then we respond in a certain type of way to accomplish that desire. Intention requires that we know what it is that we want to do in a particular moment and that we guide our actions accordingly. It is the difference between flying by the seat of our pants and guiding the experience.
As you can probably quite easily see, there are times when being more intentional might be very beneficial and help to shift things in a positive way. In our life, we can pay attention to where our intentional efforts might benefit others and ourselves the most. Then we can put a little bit more effort and consciousness into those areas so that we can create more of what we want in life. Conversely, if we do not take the time to be intentional, especially in important situations, our outcome can be hit or miss.
As much as intention is a tool to create more of what we want, it is not as simple as just coming up with a scenario we would like to create and then moving forward. Being intentional is a much more nuanced skill than that. Intention is about bringing our whole self into alignment with what we intend. The first step is getting clarity about how we would like things to go. Then, we have to bring ourselves into a state of being that is in alignment with this clarity. And, once we have, our final task is to surrender our expectations and our need for control and allow our actions to be guided. This final step is of extreme importance. If we do not surrender, we are merely managing the situation—not being intentional. This is just a sophisticated form of reaction.
To put this in action, we need to take the following steps. If we are going about our daily life and we want to be more intentional, we only need to get clear, bring ourselves into alignment, and surrender—but if we have already become reactive, it requires a couple more steps. For example, if someone says something to you that makes you feel activated or triggered, then the first step is to clear the negative reaction. We have to get out of the emotional reaction first before it is possible to take actions to be more intentional. When we are triggered, it may be impossible to know what it is that we would like to have as a positive outcome, let alone how to best create it. Regardless of whether or not you know, the first step is to clear the negative reaction—then we can start being more intentional.
Finally, we need to add skills to the mix. Setting our intention is essential; however, if we are lacking a certain skill that would help us act in a way that would bring our intention into being, we may still fall short of our mark. So, part of our process is also learning skills that support our intention becoming a reality. All of this this allows us to actively construct our life in a way that is most pleasing, satisfying, and beneficial.
If you’re looking to dive deep into your intentions and what might be obstructing them, you may be interested in a Breakthrough Intensive. Find out more here –> Breakthrough Intensive with Dr. Kate
Intention is the tool that takes us from the way things have been—the way we have been operating—to where it is that we want to go. Within our intention is the understanding that something else is possible, whether this is a change in direction entirely or a more continuous experience than we have experienced in the past. Our intention aligns us with our deepest truth and most intimate longings.
Often, when we look at ourselves, our lives, or our behaviors, we do so because we are evaluating how we got to a certain point. We ask ourselves questions such as “what has been true for me” and “what has contributed to where I am in this moment?” These types of questions have us looking at who we have been and how we got to the present moment, regardless of whether the present moment is great or not so great. It is actually much more productive to examine ourselves in a forward-reaching way, rather than retrospectively through our prior behavior.
Our intention focuses on where we are going to go and what is it that we want for the future. How is it that I want to construct my moments moving forward? Our intention might lead us into an entirely different experience or solidify a newfound one. Intention directs us to what we want, what we desire to create, and our next phase of evolution. Because of this, it is an incredibly helpful tool to guide us through life.
Additionally, as we set our intention, we create a frame for our understanding, providing a tool for us to evaluate what it is that we are wanting and doing. It helps us to become that much more informed about who we are and what it is that we want. When we form an intention, it allows us to see where we are in line with that intention and where we might be off track. For example, we might set an intention and then realize that it was not exactly what we wanted. In this way, setting an intention helps us learn about ourselves and the directions in which we want to advance. So the more that we are intentional, the more we can understand our desires, their impacts, and what is in our way. This brings a high degree of awareness into our lives.
So my suggestion is to find a way of bringing more intention into your day, whether that means setting an intention to start your day or any other certain period of time—for example, before your meals, before you leave to go somewhere, as you’re getting in your car, before you begin a new task, before you reach out to someone, or any other time that is a beginning or a moving forward. Any of these initial moments can be a time to get clear and to get intentional; then you can watch how that shifts your perception and how it also changes your outcome.
If you need a little encouragement on your way, take a look at these 16 Quotes on Positive Intention That Will Inspire Your Soul.
I. Every morning you have two choices: continue to sleep with your dreams or wake up and chase them.
II. “Intention is one of the most powerful forces there is. What you mean when you do a thing will always determine the outcome. The law creates the world.” — Brenna Yovanoff
III. “Intention is not something you do, but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy- a power that can carry us. It’s the difference between motivation and inspiration. Motivation is when you get hold of an idea and don’t let go of it until you make it a reality. Inspiration is the reverse- when an idea gets hold of you and you feel compelled to let that impulse or energy carry you along. You get to a point where you realize that you’re no longer in charge, that there’s a driving force inside you that can’t be stopped. Look at the great athletes, musicians, artists, and writers. They all tap into a source.” — Wayne Dyer
IV. “In the universe there is an immeasurable, indescribable force which shamans call intent and absolutely everything that exists in the entire cosmos is attached to intent by a connecting link” — Carlos Castaneda
V. “Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.” — Bryant McGill
VI. “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” — Seneca
VII. “It is not good enough for things to be planned – they still have to be done; for the intention to become a reality, energy has to be launched into operation.” — Walt Kelly
VIII. “You’ve got to know what you want. This is central to acting on your intentions. When you know what you want, you realize that all there is left then is time management. You’ll manage your time to achieve your goals because you clearly know what you’re trying to achieve in your life.” — Patch Adams
IX. “The more aware of your intentions and your experiences you become, the more you will be able to connect the two, and the more you will be able to create the experiences of your life consciously. This is the development of mastery. It is the creation of authentic power.” — Gary Zukav
X. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” — William A. Foster
XI. “Energy is directed by intention into action. If the action is not happening, if you’re finding excuses to not do whatever you set out to do, revisit your intention. Perhaps you were not being honest with yourself. Where is your energy flowing instead? That is where your intention sits.” — Akiroq Brost
XII. “Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it, but be intentional about it.” — David duChemin
XIII. “Gratitude in advance is the most powerful creative force in the Universe.” — Neale Donald Walsh
XIV. “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” — Wilfred Arlan Peterson, The Art of Living, Day by Day
XV. “Intention is more than wishful thinking—it’s willful direction. It is a philosophy of the heart put into practice, a consistency of conscious patterns of thought, energy, and action. Through intention, we see more and create with more clarity, passion, and authenticity. Our attention then becomes a spotlight for every shred of supporting evidence that we’re on the right path.” — Jennifer Williamson
XVI. “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” — Henry David Thoreau
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.
A lot of times when people think about being happier in their life, they think about “having something”—having a sense of purpose, having the right relationship, having some quality of life that’s going to result in them feeling happier. In reality, having these things doesn’t always equal feeling happy. What does make us happier is incorporating the experience of pleasure into our day-to-day, moment-to-moment life.
When we learn what it is that we like and enjoy—and we learn how to do it more and more—we become happier.
Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to live the majority of our time in a state of deprivation, only occasionally providing ourselves with rewards. A classic example of this is to work all week so that you can enjoy yourself on the weekend. The idea is that you put in time being disciplined (“doing the right thing,” being responsible, making sacrifices) and that buys you some time to do what you actually enjoy.
When we live life this way, we can fall into the trap of having less and less pleasure in our life and thus less and less happiness. People who live this way often experience burnout. They report feeling a sense of fatigue, experiencing a flat emotional state, and wondering what the point of it all is.
To fix this problem, we start to turn things on their head. We ask the questions, “How can I bring more pleasure into my existence on a regular and consistent basis? What happens if I question the notion that pleasure is a reward rather than a state of being?”
It is helpful to start small. What are some easy ways to bring more pleasure into your life? It can be anything from bringing a picture into work that reminds you of something pleasurable to eating your favorite food or taking a moment to see something that’s beautiful in your environment. We can start with these simple methods and then build on them.
Then, we can start to ask bigger questions, such as “Am I engaging in work that is actually pleasurable to me? Do I enjoy myself when I spend time alone? Does this person in my life bring experiences of pleasure?”
Pursuing what brings us pleasure does not mean that every single aspect of life will now be enjoyable or that we will no longer experience difficulty, pain, or challenge, but it will start us working in a way that creates a life that feels good. By doing this, we start undoing the habits and patterns that keep us in a place of deprivation.
Pursuing more pleasure in our life helps ensure that we are happier on a regular basis. It feeds us at a very deep level. It takes care of us in a way that we cannot address through goals and plans. It ensures our happiness in the moment to moment.
If you’d like more support cultivating a life lived well, check out my individual and group programs, here.