My office is in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is still like it sounds. TOUGH!
While there are many artsy fartsy people and yuppies now in Brooklyn, there are also the old school Brooklynites and plenty of badasses.
For instance, the people who work in my office building include tattooed photographers, people on drugs (I don’t know what they do, but they look really really high), and people who work in jobs requiring hands-on strength.
A few weeks ago, a guy who works at a shipping company in my office building walked by my suite.
I’m not talking “shipping” like Fedex. I’m talking shipping like loading crates onto freighters headed to China. Hard core shipping.
“What are you doing?” the shipping guy asked, peaking his grizzled, shaved head into my office door.
“I’m cleansing the room. This is sage,” I explained to him, as smoke filled my office and surrounded my giant statue of Shiva.
I might as well have told him I was shaving my eyebrows and waxing my nostrils. I guess people in the hard-core shipping industry don’t burn sage?
It’s the most badass thing I do, which isn’t saying much.
But hey, you drink one of these and see how “tough” (and caffeinated) you feel!
I couldn’t find an bottle opener and proceeded to knock on every office in the building to find an opener so I could drink my bottle of cold brew Stumptown.
Finally, hesitantly, I knocked on the door where the shipping people work.
“Excuse me, do you have a bottle opener?” I asked them. It’s such a simple question but standing there, I felt like a man in a pink ballet tutu sized for a toddler.
I handed him the bottle of Stumptown cold brew coffee. He examined it, and then in one of life’s more humiliating, emasculating moments, the shipping person proceeded to twist off the cap in .00273 seconds.
Clearly, it did not require a bottle opener.
He handed back the bottle to me and said something which might as well have been in Dothraki, the language of the savage tribe in Game of Thrones.
But is it just me? I’m guessing many of you make life more difficult than it needs to be.
For instance, I’ve been leading this program on Soothing Anxiety. And I’ve realized in talking to so many of the brilliant minds who are taking the program, that a brilliant mind gains too much control.
So many of us with anxiety make up stories in our heads that are just not true.
We make up stories about what other people are thinking or saying. We make up stories about obstacles and weaknesses. We make up stories that become so real, we dig ourselves a ditch and we burrow into the shadows where it feels safe.
The real badass is what Paulo Coelho calls “The warrior of light.”
“The warrior of light is a believer. Because when he is sure that his thoughts can change his life, his life begins to change. Because when he is certain that he will find love, love appears.”
If you are not currently a warrior of light, why? What is so compelling about making your life difficult? I’m not just speaking to you. I ask myself this question.
Here’s my answer to that question:
Because the cold brew Stumptown is such a great product, I figured it must be difficult to open.
We tend to make the same associations with life. We say things like:
“If it’s awesome and wonderful, it must be hard to attain.”
“I’ll make more money but I’m going to have to work my ass off for years and years and years.”
“I can get a better body, but I’m going to have to endure lots of pain.”
Sometimes, not always, but sometimes… the solutions to life are so much easier than we make them out to be.
There are 3 emotions that, when evoked, empower the Warrior of Light within you. Call upon these emotions and life becomes…EASIER:
A harsh inner dialogue will force you into harsh situations. But when you are KIND to yourself, you will stop arguing for your limitations and start arguing for your gifts.
For successful people who drive themselves hard, there’s often a deficiency of self-love. You’ll convince yourself you need long hours and sacrifices away from family.
The inner dialogue of the type A hard worker is usually fixated on “More, more, more…better, better, better!”
It’s good for business, great for competition, but very, very hard on relationships…especially the one you have with yourself.
I, for one, make life harder than it needs to be. I live in NYC, one of the hardest places in the world to live. My wife and I have a baby in a tiny apartment. We could make life a lot easier.
But working harder to find a way out of your circumstances often only makes things more difficult.
We make things easier when we LOVE our circumstances, cherish our challenges, embrace the weather, wrap our arms around life instead of push it away.
Some of the best advice I ever received was from spiritual activist Seane Corn. She told me when she first started her career, she was making a minimal amount of money (i.e. minimum wage). But she made peace with it, learned how to live off it, and that’s when things really took off.
In order to graduate, you have to pass the test. And that often means…finding a way to make peace with your circumstances.
When you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders…that’s a hard place to be.
And of course, if you are running a business or supporting a family, that’s probably how you feel every single day.
So what would it take to open your palms to receive…to dabble in some greater kind of trust or faith?
It would mean making peace with the mess that is your life.
Annie Lamott writes, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life… I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
Trust and faith are probably not going to mean miracles and prophets descending from the heavens to relieve your burdens.
But if you can dance to the sound of your screaming kids, toast at least once each day to a small victory at work, and occasionally find peace in a moment of prayer to your God, or your yoga, or even the sparkles from the guitar of Jerry Garcia…
Trust is less understanding and more..making space for something to enter your mind and heart.
YES life can be very, very difficult. But there are countless moments when we make it more difficult then it needs to be.
Before you search long and hard for the “bottle opener,” give the simple “twist off” a chance.
It won’t always work, but when it does… you will remember…there are ways to make life easier. And when you find them, you will feel kinda like a…BAD ASS!