Getting in alignment
You may or may not know that I am currently in the midst of applying for Internal Medicine residency in the US. It’s been a long journey to get to this point – it is an important story that I look forward to telling you very soon.
As of right now, I’m in the middle of it, and I will say that I feel really good about where I am. I am happy and excited; not out of optimism, or even out of belief that I will match and reach my goal, but just genuinely glad to be here. Enjoying the process, and finding joy in the steps along the way. It is refreshing to live my life from this perspective, and it is new for me.
I thought it was interesting that despite not yet having attained my goal (of being accepted into a residency program) everything feels like it is unfolding beautifully, and I feel pleasant and at peace.
I realized that this was perhaps the first time in my life that I not only created a vision for how I wanted something to look (in this example, my career), but for the last 2 years I have been consistently taking aligned action. Every single thing I did reinforced my vision.
I hypothesize that simply the act of spending a length of time moving in one direction creates the ideal conditions for transformation of self and life.
So then I thought – hmm, what about other areas of my life that feel stagnant or meh or are not looking at all the way I want it to?
I analyzed each one, and realized the key factors that created kinks in getting aligned are:
⚡️ A lack of vision: Not knowing what I want. Or even what I value.
⚡️ No intentional action.
⚡️ Inconsistent action, or taking steps backwards, or steps that harm my vision.
To begin aligning areas of your life:
First, Identify an area of your life that you want to align.
Some areas of life, like career, are large areas and require time and also for some big things to fall into place before you can gather some momentum. You may want to start small so that you can experience the magic of aligning one area of your life and use that power to channel into the bigger areas too.
Small things to align: Your belongings/clutter, your diet, your wardrobe/style, your fitness levels, your appearance, your home, your meditation practice, your evening/morning routine.
Bigger things: Career, friendships, hobbies.
Then, decide on your highest vision for yourself in that area. If you cannot see the specifics, then focus on how you want to feel in that area of your life, or the values you wish to bring to life.
Next, brainstorm the steps you have to take to get to that point.
And if it’s not a linear process, or you don’t know all the steps to get there, that’s fine! Brainstorm different things you can do that would be aligned with that vision (for example, if you are looking to align the friendships in your life – maybe you don’t know what steps to take to make more friends, but you DO know that nurturing your existing friendships is an action that is aligned with your highest friendship vision.)
If you love something, learn to love the opposite of it
I was watching Tidying up with Marie Kondo on Netflix.
The part that intrigued me was that even though Marie promotes and encourages a clean, minimalistic, and elegant home & lifestyle, when guests on her show reveal their messy homes overflowing with clutter and items that do not spark joy, she doesn’t cringe. She doesn’t frown and she doesn’t condescend or lecture them.
She just smiles! And she says “This is great. I love mess!”
And I thought “How can she love mess, when everything she lives for is to eliminate mess?!”
And isn’t it so true that when we love something, we tend to hate the opposite of it?
I love having a clean and tidy home, so I hate dirt and clutter.
I love deep, meaningful conversations, so I hate small talk.
I love peace, so I hate conflict.
I love relaxing, so I hate being busy, or I love being busy, so I hate doing nothing.
But the opposite is often an essential ingredient required to make the thing we love. It can be used as a starting block. Dirt can be cleaned, clutter can be organized, small talk and be transformed into meaningful connection, and sometimes conflict is necessary for true peace.
Secondly, what if we didn’t waste our energy hating the opposite thing? What if we embraced the opposite, as Marie does, because we see it for the value and potential it holds? What if we loved both the ingredient and the final dish? If we loved the beginning and the end? If we cherished all the realities that can exist.
Loving one thing and hating the other paints the world into black and white. It’s a futile way to live. It makes you rigid, and makes your happiness depend on many different unpredictable factors. It also makes you a little unstable, because you’re always shifting from hate to love and love to hate.
What if you were free from that dichotomy? What if your only choice was to embrace what is, for what it is.
When change feels too big, try this
I generally love challenging myself. Ever since I can remember, I’ve put myself on self-imposed 30 day challenges to see how it feels to try out a new habit. However there are some changes that I feel particularly resistant to, even though I do know I want to try them.
Committing to eating my meals free of distraction – which means no TV, no phone, no conversation – was a really tough one for me! I was so accustomed (read: addicted) to mindlessly watching TV while I ate, that the thought of being without it even for just 10 minutes while I ate, made me feel uncomfortable. It felt like too big of a change.
In these situations, instead of telling myself “You MUST eat every single meal from this point onwards without screen time” I ask myself a question.
“How would it feel to eat just this meal without distractions?”
It’s less intimidating; it’s just a gentle 10 minute commitment. And it sparks my curiosity – it brings me to “what if?” and “how would I feel if I did this small little thing.”
Needless to say, experimenting just once in a very simple and non-committal way often snowballs into a more sustained commitment.
🍁 How would it feel if I read a book for 10 minutes instead of scrolling through my phone before bed? If after 10 minutes, you rather be on my phone, that’s fine! Just stay curious about yourself.
🍁 How would it feel if I did this work-out even though I don’t feel like doing it at all? How would my body feel? How would my mind feel?
I might feel good, but I might also still feel bad. This is not about proving yourself (or anyone) right or wrong. It’s simply about being curious, questioning, and learning something.
🍁 What would it feel like if I ate a piece of fruit instead of chocolate to satisfy this sweet craving I’m having?
Make the obstacle the way
I noticed that a sometimes I consider the things I have to do as things that keep me away from the things I really want to do or should do or need to do.
When I treat every task that comes my way as an obstacle to where I rather be, life gets tiring. I start to feel like I’m always swimming upstream, I’m always fighting the moment.
🌿 Admin tasks keep getting in the way of making progress on my project.
🌿 My statistics course is getting in the way of writing my manuscript.
🌿 Playing with Reya is getting in the way of cleaning the house.
🌿 Work is getting in the way of writing my blog.
🌿 Writing in my blog is getting in the way of my time to work.
🌿 Having to run all these pesky little errands is getting in the way spending time with my family.
🌿 Working out is getting in the way of relaxing.
🌿 Relaxing is getting in the way of being productive.
I pause and ask myself – what if these things that get in the way, ARE the way?
What if I believed what I have to do in this moment is exactly what I should be doing in this moment?
And what if what I should be doing in this moment is exactly what I want to be doing in this moment?
What would that feel like?
That would feel like freedom to me.
These days, what I’m trying is this: every time I catch myself thinking that what I’m doing is getting in the way of something else, I rejig my priorities right then and there. I prioritize the thing I’m doing and make a conscious shift to “I am doing exactly what I need to do be doing in this moment*.”
(*unless of course it’s exceptionally obvious that I really should be prioritizing something else – like an impending deadline – then I shift gears and do THAT thing.)
Life is not to be overcome. Life is to be delighted in!
Practice gratitude in motion
Whenever I hear or read about a gratitude practice, it typically involves spending a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to reflect on the things in your life you are grateful for.
In my experience, this practice can feel static and at times even a little contrived. I may be able to list off plenty of things, but it’s hard to generate and amplify that emotion of gratitude. And that’s the whole point!
A more effective way to practice gratitude is to take a moment to notice and express gratitude at the beginning of every task you engage in, throughout your day.
Going for a walk on a gorgeous sunshine day, listening to your favourite song? Soak up that delicious moment as you are doing it.
About to sit down and eat a lovely meal? Feel the grace of that moment! Say thank you!
Catching up with a friend over coffee? Express to them the impact they have had on your life! Or if that’s TOO much (*it’s never too much) share with them how you feel about spending time with them!
It’s gratitude in motion. It’s a living breathing gratitude practice. It instantly raises the vibe of the moment and is a powerful attractor of more elevated moments. It’s a wonderful way to light up your life.
I hope you find value and joy in implementing these little ideas. They’ve certainly made a big impact in my life!
Till next time,