Episode 92: One Life
Episode 92: One life
We spend a lot of time thinking about what others are thinking of us and we shape our lives in ways that we think others would approve of. We’re so consumed with what we think they think of us that we lose sight of what you think of you and how you want to spend your mortal sojourn. You have one life. One gift of mortality. What do you want to do with it? What do you want to make of it? How do you want to spend your time? How do you want to feel about your life? Tune in to the full episode with LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles
Hey there, welcome back to the show! I’ve been pondering on a specific topic for a while now and I wanted to bring it to you in hopes that you will take some of this to heart and really give yourself permission to believe it and to apply it.
We live in a time where we have access to more information than we could ever hope to consume or digest in our entire life. This is both a huge blessing and a challenge and trial. Because what this means is that you really don’t have limitations as far as information or knowledge goes – you can learn anything at any time I believe.
You want to learn floral arranging? Pinterest it is! You want to study ancient philosophical text? You got it – google here I come! You want to understand the inner workings of your dog’s mind and behaviors – you bet! YouTube is amazing for that.
I have a mantra that I use in my business – “Everything is figuroutable and YouTube is amazing” – and it’s true – just about anything you’re looking for can be found which means you’re not at a disadvantage like so many of our ancestors and prior fellow humans were who didn’t have what you have. For centuries only certain people could even read or have access to important information and so on one hand you are living in a remarkable era or light and knowledge and opportunity.
But on the other, you see so much of what others have done, what they can do, and inevitably we start to compare or be compared to or even have others put expectations on you compared to what others have and can do and this creates problems or at least a lot of thought drama for us.
I was talking with a beautiful woman recently. She’s celebrating her 89th birthday this year and she was telling me that back in her day, in her area and neck of the woods things were easier. She said, your path was laid out for you. You knew what came next but now there are so many options and so many expectations and again, that’s a beautiful thing.
The complication comes when we allow others to tell us or to influence us to live a life that isn’t conducive or authentic to us. I see so many of my clients working in jobs they don’t like, getting degrees they don’t even want, serving in positions they feel stuck in, staying in relationships that don’t serve them, hanging out with friends that aren’t uplifting for them, and believing thoughts that work against them.
And I tell you what, I’m with you – even as a coach, we’re human and it’s easy to get sucked into these ideas and beliefs that you “should” be/do/say/become a certain kind of person but what if it’s not true? What if you got to make your own rules? What if there are no rules?
I was reading a book recently that listed off a bunch of statistics and research to back up their claim and while it was fascinating it rubbed me the wrong way a bit because it boxed a lot of people in and could be very discouraging for a lot of readers. Now, I’m not arguing with the research at all – that’s a fact, that’s provable but it’s not the whole story.
There’s always exceptions. Just because you learn something or read something given by an expert it doesn’t make it true for you at least it doesn’t have to be true for you. And this is the case with any area of your life – you can be the exception if you want to be.
When I was first starting out as a coach it was confusing to venture into the world of entrepreneurship. There were people left and right telling you what to do, how to market, how to do ads, what to say, what not to say, how you needed to run your business, how not to run your business, and all that and because you want to do it just right your mind listens and thinks about and puts emphasis on each claim and after a while, it’s easy to get burned out because you might start to believe you’re doing it wrong.
Your path should look like that person. Your business should look like that one. Your life should look like this not that. And it was exhausting until I learned that you get ONE LIFE and it’s yours. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing. You don’t have to buy into the belief that this way is the only way. Maybe you’re the exception?
Now, I’m not discounting research again. Research and statistics they’re information – information for you to decide what to do with it – it’s not a limitation.
Sometimes we use that information against us and then we stop or limit ourselves from moving forward and that’s when we start adopting someone else ideas and beliefs for your life but this is your life, not theirs. No one can tell you how to live your life, that’s your gift and your opportunity to shape and mold your time, this precious mortality into what you want it to become.
I just read the book, Art and Faith by Makoto Fujimura who said something I really liked. He said, “What if we began to live our live generatively facing our darkness? What if we all began to trust our intuition and the Holy Spirit’s whispers? What if we removed our masks of self-defensive and create into our true identities?…What if our lives are artworks re-presented back to the creator?”
In other words, what if this one life really is your masterpiece – yours and yours alone to create and offer back in love to your Heavenly Father?
I don’t think He wants a copy of someone else’s works – He wants YOURS. He wants to see what YOU create and how you choose to live your life. Imagine this for a moment, imagine a painter that is trying to create their masterpiece and they have all these outsiders telling them how to paint, what colors to use, what style, what shading, what techniques even. Can you picture what that would be like? What would that piece turn out like?
Especially if you think about who those people are like: Andy Warhol with his bright pop art or Vincent Van Gogh with his impressionists blurred style or Picasso with his unique almost broken-esque style or Klimt who would no doubt advise more gold in there!
That poor artist who has no time to even think about what their own addition would be if they’re too busy listening to the outside voices of the world. This is like our lives. We let others tell us how to spend our time, how quickly we should be progressing, how we should parent, what we should eat, how you should spend your time, how much money you make, what your house and garden should look like. It’s exhausting and the end result is that you aren’t really being you. You’re a mis-mashed walking portrait of other people’s values and opinions.
This is your life, my friends. What do you want to do with it? What do you want to make of it? How do you want to spend your time? How do you want to feel about your life?
I love being inspired by others. I love seeing what’s possible. But the moment I start to get wrapped up in other’s opinions and thoughts that I should be something other than I am, I have to stop. I’ve shared this before but it’s important for me. It’s a boundary I’ve created for myself that states. “If I can’t love myself through this, I’m not doing it”.
And I know you know how that feels. If your life isn’t one of love – and not all happy land rainbows the entire time but full of Joy – of the 50/50- and it’s more like, you’re drowning all the time – then it’s time to pause and look at your masterpiece and realize who is actually painting right now. You or someone else?
You have to be really careful what voices you’re letting influence you and I’m not even talking about those that are in your inner circle and telling you directly how you should do things. I’m talking about inadvertently too. I was stunned at the latest Time magazine’s most influential people because it was people I would not want to be influenced by. It was a bunch of people that are influential because they can sing or make a lot of money and while those are great for them I don’t necessarily know that I want to pattern my life after them.
So what shows are you watching? What music are you listening to? What media are you soaking in? What environment are you marinating in? Be mindful of these because they’re going to influence your life whether you intentionally realize it or not.
In the book, Atomic Habits, James Clear introduces this concept of the three groups we’re most influenced by: The close, the Many, and the powerful. Now I highly recommend this book and you’ll love it but I want to touch base on this idea of our circle of influence because you want to be aware and confidently make the intentional decision of who or what is adding to or influencing your life, your masterpiece, your mortal experience.
So the idea is that the close is the people closest to you – those that you spend the most time with. Take just a moment and think of this past week. On a pie chart who would take up the most space on that chart? This doesn’t have to be people in your close proximity either – these are people that you spend time with or think about the most.
So in reality this could be someone you stalk on social media, a fictional character from a book even, or your circle of friends or family members. Who are those closest to you? The ones you give the most thought space to?
Are these people you want influencing your life? We can’t help but soak in and internalize those around us. It becomes a part of us. Have you ever noticed that maybe you start saying words that they say? Even if at first it sounded weird to you? The more you surround yourself with these people the more traits and habits you’ll pick up from them. So make sure you like your closest influencers. He says that, “Proximity has a powerful effect on our behavior”. So pay attention to those that fall into the close category.
The Many is the idea that we want to go with the group, the majority, the crowd. Whenever we aren’t sure of our next move, or how we should act we generally look to the crowd or to the group to guide us. He says that “most days we’d rather be wrong with the crowd than right by ourselves”.
There have been countless studies about this and this is what’s so fascinating – the crowd – the many changes depending on where you live. It might seem like everyone is into this one particular thing until you go somewhere else and it’s not a thing there. Like that doesn’t exist there. So be careful what you’re basing your anchor as. Just because it’s like that there isn’t a good indicator that that’s what it’s like everywhere.
So if your many isn’t serving you – be aware of that -I’m not telling you to move, I’m suggesting that you utilize this amazing technology that we have and find your people elsewhere. They can be your many and help you create the life you want to live.
Then the last group of influence is The powerful – what are those with status doing? These people we respect and admire or that have the prestige we think we want. Again, be mindful of these people and make sure that who they are and what they do is what you want to emulate and soak in. So what does this all have to do with you and living your ONE life the way you want to?
You want to choose people that live by the standards, attributes, and things you want to be influenced by. When I was in college I was given the opportunity to choose what voice teacher/professor I wanted to work closely with and that was really significant for me because while all of them are amazing and were incredibly talented I was able to choose the person that had a similar voicing as mine so that I could emulate and increase my capacity. I wanted her influence. I wanted to be inspired by that.
John Williams is a very famous composer and musician – if you don’t immediately recognize his name you’ll know his music. He did all the Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Schindlers Lists, Et, Jurassic Park – okay, what’s interesting though is a lot of his music sounds very similar to certain classical pieces. Not enough to be like plagiarized or anything suspicious but you can tell who he was influenced by and because of that he was able to create the most stunning and moving themes in his scores.
We are influenced by others but we get to choose who or what we allow in. Who or what is going to help you build and create your masterpiece? Who do you want to help shape your life? Who lives in a manner that you want?
It’s easy to fall into subconscious beliefs that you should be living your life differently than you currently are. This is part of the productivity myth that’s a class coming soon for you all because listen, you need it – trust me! But we start adopting beliefs that we should be doing more. We don’t allow ourselves to feel good about our day or worse, ourselves because we didn’t do enough, we didn’t check off enough boxes and inevitably your mind starts thinking of others that surely would have done more, that are more, that are living the life you think you want and if you just pause for a moment to ask yourself why?
Why are you allowing yourself to be swayed by these voices, people, or examples? Is it what you want to be influenced by? Again, choose people that live by standards, attributes, values, and joy that you want to be influenced by. You don’t want to be around people that are constantly competing with you or trying to one-up you not only in deed but just in conversation. It’s daunting trying to connect and talk to someone only to hear how you’re doing it wrong and they’re doing it better.
These voices stick around longer than you realize and yes, you can 100% thought work yourself back to your authentic self and being but it’s tough and requires intentional thought at all times – something your brain highly resists because it consumes a lot of mental energy and your brain is all about conserve, conserve, conserve and keep the human alive!
So take an inventory of the people in your life that you let in and just how much time you’re allowing yourself to marinate in their influence – this isn’t solely about how much time you spend with them either -this is how much mental energy you give them. So that could mean the aftermath as well. How much time do you stew about what they said? How much time are you thinking about that interaction? How much mental space are you carving out for them? And is that what you want in your life?
It’s important to pause each day preferably at the beginning of each day before you get caught in the automatic daily routine and ask yourself some important questions. These don’t take long but they’re guiding questions that will help you steer your thoughts, your energy, your actions, and your journey for the day as an added measure of security that you are able to live a confident live – that sense of certainty and quiet confidence that I teach and abide by.
Question #1: Why am I here and what do I want from this one mortal life that I’ve been given?
I know that’s technically two questions but they’re lumped together for a reason. Your brain is not going to want to discuss existential questions first thing in the morning so I’m not asking you to dive into deep questions about your very existence each day however, you definitely want to at some point and then you can answer that question in a concise manner -just to tether you back to your overall purpose.
An example can be, “I’m here because I’m on a journey of becoming more like my Savior and Father in Heaven.
I want to learn how to invite more joy into my life.”
This first question is beautiful because it takes all the drama out so you can center yourself on your overarching why, your intention, your goal, your purpose.
Notice how your answers feel to you and then see if you can see contrast this feeling with maybe how you woke up today or even yesterday when maybe you hopped out of bed frantic to start the day and jumped right into the hustle and bustle.
It’s that visual of the mouse on the wheel that’s just running and running and not questioning why it’s running. It’s just running. Vs pausing for just a moment to ask yourself do I want to run today? What’s the purpose of running? Do I like my reasons for it? And then making the decision to hop on the wheel or not.
How differently would your day go if you asked yourself that question first every morning? What do you think would change for you?
Question #2: What will help me create that today?
And here’s where you decide what you’re putting back into your day or not – what you want to do with your time and energy. Maybe you do want to hop back on that running wheel but not because it’s what you’ve always done but now it’s because you have a purpose behind it. I’m running because it will help me grow stronger. It will help me experience joy -the ups and the downs, the hardpoints and the joy of seeing it through.
Question #3: Who are you? What kind of a person would you need to be to accomplish these things today?
This is you remembering just how capable you are. This is you remembering your true identity. My go-to belief for this question echoes Gordon B. Hinckely’s quote: I am a Child of God of Infinite capacity.
So as my brain wants to freak out and indulge in overwhelm at the daily tasks ahead I’m reminded that “wait…I’m of infinite capacity” – would someone of infinite capacity struggle with this? Probably not, so then it tethers me back to my source of infinite light, goodness, love, and knowledge.
It gives me an added boost to jump-start my day in the best and most productive way possible. And the best part is that it will carry me all throughout my day.
We inadvertently fill our day with a lot of “have to’s”:
I have to go here
I have to do that
I have to buy that
I have to spend time on that…
And that’s the thing because you don’t. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to listen to the myriad of voices telling you how to spend your time, energy, money, and life. You don’t have to be like anyone else if you don’t want to be.
You don’t have to paint like anyone else or use their style -going back to the masterpiece analogy.
This is your life. You have one beautiful life in mortality.
Here’s the truth: You have all eternity to learn all the things, all the hobbies, all the languages, all the skills you want, all the talents you want to refine.
That doesn’t end here so we don’t have to get wrapped up in all the things and the finite time here on earth. We don’t have to be afraid that we have to get it all done all at once because we have time.
There are few things that we only get to experience here in mortality. What are those things for you? What do you want to really experience here in your earthly sojourn? What do you want to do with your one beautiful life? What do you want to create of your earthly masterpiece? What kind of a person do you want to become? And are you living in a way that is reflective of that?
This life is truly a gift and when you’re able to center yourself in the truth and purpose for you it makes it easier to shrug off the distractions and distorted opinions of others. Tethering yourself to your why, to your purpose helps you to live a life of quiet confidence, a life you don’t need others to understand or agree with because you understand, you agree with it. This is the recipe for joy and authenticity. This is the recipe for a genuinely confident life.
Okay, my friends. Give yourself permission to sit with this concept and these important questions. I promise you it will help you in all aspects of your life and will up level not just your experience and feeling of your life but your relationships, your daily activities, and life as well.
Have a beautiful week! Talk to you next time!