I had spent so many years bowing down to the altar of higher education (both as a student and a professor) that a few years ago this would have seemed like a radical idea, blasphemous even. Don't be silly, I might have thought, the rational mind can find a solution to anything if we try hard enough and think long enough about it. Make lists! Weigh the pros and cons! Do some research. Think through all the possible outcomes, consider everything, and when all the due diligence is done (in the form of thinking), choose the best option.
If only it were that simple.
What they don't tell you while you're forking over obscene amounts of money for a "higher" education is that thinking is only one way of processing information and knowing the world. Thinking uses only a small portion of the brain. It is useful, but incomplete. When it is overdeveloped at the expense of other intelligence, it creates imbalance. I think this is at the root of a lot of problems in western society today. And, as Albert Einstein famously said:
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.
What other options do we have? The body and the heart have their own intelligence. This information is always available to us and we ignore it at our peril. Once I started accessing other forms of intelligence, I found I could make decisions much more quickly and they were usually the right ones. Here's how you can get started right now:
1. Start to find 3-5 ways you want to feel. Not just "happy," be specific! Just a few of many possibilities are: serene, childlike, creative, playful, free, joyful, purposeful, spacious, authentic, secure, feminine, loved, loving, whole, radiant, expansive, engaged, seen, light-hearted, grateful, compassionate, peaceful, strong, clear.
2. Once you have your 3-5 feelings, write them down and keep them in a place where you'll see them regularly.
3. Get intimately familiar with your desired feelings one at a time. How do they feel in the body? Where in the body do they live?
4. As you navigate your day and make decisions, big and small, let these feelings guide you. Try to make decisions that will support your desired feelings.
Little by little, you'll create a life that feels like freedom to you. The beautiful thing is that it looks different for each of us! We each have a unique recipe for happiness. This is a way of building a life of authenticity from the inside out. Don't leave your feeling state to chance or to the whims of the external world.
We often try to create circumstances (a new job, a new relationship, a new outfit) to make us feel how we want to feel (smart, loved, beautiful). It works much better to deliberately cultivate the feelings first and then let the external circumstances line up from that place. Your freedom will follow. You can still enjoy the job, the relationship and the outfit but you will not need them to be happy. This distinction makes all the difference.
The mind can play tricks on us and try to talk us into or out of things based on ego and fear. The wisest decisions are not made from this place. When our ego chooses something that goes against our intuitive knowing, it leads to dis-ease and sometimes actual disease.
The heart and body speak from this intuitive knowing and do not mislead or manipulate. The clarity that comes from this kind of knowing can bring impressive ease and peace of mind. I invite you to be curious about which feeling states you're spending most of your time with now. Perhaps you're spending too much time with fear, anxiety, scarcity, overwhelm or some of their cousins. Once you're clear on which feelings you'd like to cultivate, you'll make space to invite them in. I think you'll have a lot of fun getting to know them better.
Fair warning: this can change everything.
Enjoy the ride,