When he sang, "Imagine all the people living life in peace..." was John Lennon being a dreamer? Was he referring to a fantasy world or was he referring to the world he was creating, each moment, with his every thought, feeling and action?
When you choose to be loving, you are creating a loving world. When you focus on the goodness in people, empower their joy and uplift their sense of possibility, you are creating a world with more goodness, joy and optimism.
What is the "real" world? It is the world of Love within us. And when we choose to express ourselves lovingly, the world we are experiencing becomes a loving world too. "The world" is simply a projection of our beliefs.
If you are boldly speaking for love and kindness, and someone tells you that you're living in a fantasy world, hear this: THANK YOU. Thank you for being a champion of life-affirming things. Thank you for believing in a world that is thoughtful, generous and filled with light.
To learn, teach. Ever heard that phrase? That's why.
I coach people because I live deep in the heartland of learning -- or really, remembering -- every single thing I share with my clients. And I so want to know. I so want to remember:
- How to own the truth that burns deep inside my chest and thighs.
- Why it's better to do it now than later.
- That I am just as lovable, whichever I choose.
- How to be bold, courageous, fiercely honest and uncensored, while also being tender, gentle and exquisitely honest, in marriage and other intimate partnerships, friendships, relationships.
I coach people to feel the vitality of love deep within their being, because I want to feel that too. Oh, I long to feel that too, with my one wild and precious life. Why do I coach? I coach because humans are beautiful -- every single human being is SO BEAUTIFUL -- it knocks the breath right out of my lungs when I really sit with that. And when I'm being honest, I will tell you without a sliver of a doubt that I love every single human being on Earth.
I coach to feel.
I coach to remember.
I had a dream. I dreamt of a world where work was a vehicle for joy, not a place where we sat around waiting for the weekend or our next vacation. I dreamt of a world where people at work felt treasured, valued and seen to our core. What an opportunity for business leaders to create a better world, one employee at a time: by loving them.
I got clear right away that I'd have to publicly ask the elephant to leave the room. Just Google "love at work" and you'll find photos of fishnet stockings in black stilettos on a CEO's desk. No, I'm not talking about the adolescent definition of love, which centers around dating and romance and is reserved for only our primary intimate partner.
Love is the piercing adoration we feel for our children. Love is the swelling ocean inside our chest that pulses intensely when we stare into the eyes of our dying grandmother. Love is the fire inside our fingers when we are doing work that makes us feel alive. Love is the essence of who we are. Love is the greatest power on Earth. Love is the source of well being and the only real superpower.
And as I declared in elementary school, Love is my religion.
So I made business cards and a website. I networked and developed an assessment for companies to create a culture of love in the workplace. All the "right" people affirmed that this idea -- which doesn't belong to me, because ideas belong to no one -- was brilliant, highly innovative and cutting edge.
A year went by and there were no clients. I drove myself crazy wondering why. I surrendered twice. I looked within myself for every possible cause, shortcoming and solution. Nothing about it seemed to make sense. I couldn't figure it out.
Then I woke up. The dream I was having dissipated in the presence of my unrelenting willingness to own my true desire. And that is to love people through writing.
Yesterday three female venture capitalists and investors presented on a panel at the conference I was attending, Emerging Women Live. One of them said, "You don't need to look for money. Just create an awesome business and people will want to give you money." That's when it hit me. I don't have an awesome business. None of my businesses have been awesome. I have an awesome idea. Because that's what I'm good at: awesome ideas. Being a channel for ideas -- and essentially, Love -- to move through, and then sharing them with the world through writing.
ZA-BOOM. The whole world moved beneath me. One door closed. I saw my business card falling hundreds of feet off the Golden Gate Bridge, into the seaweed filled womb of the chilly Pacific, burying itself in the luscious layer of mud at the very bottom.
I am not an entrepreneur at heart, though I've started a few businesses before. I really couldn't care less about business. At its absolute best, it is simply a vehicle for human transformation. At its worst, it is an expression of enslavement to the dream of an economy that only hopes of benefiting life on this planet.
I am a channel. I am a thought leader. I am someone who genuinely loves all people -- and is learning day by day how to fully live that Love -- and I really like to do it in writing. That's what makes me feel alive. That is my art. That is how I'll go to my death bed with no regrets: living my art and my joy --> I am no different from anyone else, in this way.
However painful my own denial of this dream has been, however unnecessary the suffering, anxiety, and incessant attempts to f-i-g-u-r-e o-u-t w-h-y... It has all been worth it. Fuel for the dream, fuel for the pedaling up long hills on bike tours that will be required to enable this dream, muscle for the internal dance of strength necessary for living our own true desires.
I pretended long enough. How about you? What are you pretending not to know?
First there was Melissa, who was two years old when I was born. Then came Heather in kindergarten, Julie in 5th grade, Andrea in 7th, and a continuing stream of loving and meaningful friendships throughout high school, college and into my professional years. Deeply caring friends have graced my presence all of my life, and I still keep in touch with most of them.
In his famous poem, desiderata, Max Ehrmann wrote, “As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.” Someone must have read this poem to me early in life, because it is imprinted on my bones. Tending to friendships is of utmost importance to me, as relationships are key to a wonderful life. How, then, about being on good terms -- like, really good terms -- with myself?
My life would be awful without my dearest friendships, yet what is most important is that I am willing to be my own best friend.
So how is this done?
My daughter’s godfather Jeremy comes to mind. After being laid off from his job of many years, he planned to go on a California coastal bike tour to find a fresh perspective on life. Ready to go, he injured his ACL, delaying the venture several months until he rehabilitated his knee. After months of rest and dedication, last week he pedaled off, realizing his long held dream before starting a new job with no regrets. This is what it’s like to be your own best friend.
Cliches become cliche for good reason. What would you do if you knew you had only one year left to live? Write that down. Put it on your wall, in front of your computer, or tape it to your bathroom mirror. Commit. When will you do that thing? Because you just might have a year left. Or you might have 40. Either way, waiting is overrated.
Powerful questions provide a very simple way to access our inner wisdom and quiet the noise we let get in the way. Being our own best friend means, first and foundationally, being honest with ourselves.
Try this → If your “best” friend were sitting in front of you right now, and you asked her/him to tell you the top three things s/he felt you most needed to hear, with zero holding back, what would they be?
You don’t need to ask anyone. You know within yourself. Pretend you're highly clairvoyant.
What are you pretending not to know?
What makes you happy on a daily basis? It can be simple (and often is). What big dream are you withholding from yourself? How can you take one small step toward that dream today? I’d love to hear your thoughts here!
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a mother, coach, lifelong letter writer, and eternal fan of Mr. (Fred) Rogers. This deeply personal blog and our free recorded conversations are devoted to one of her greatest passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.