A Different Slant on Common Advice

One of my favorite and most frequently used mantras is, “My thoughts shape my perceptions, determine my actions and behaviors and create the world I envision.”

Goethe’s advice to live each day as if life had just begun contradicts the popular recommendation to live each day as if it is your last. I find the idea of living as if life had just begun much more hopeful and inspiring. While living as if time is short (which it is, in the big picture) can remind us to make the most of each moment and to prioritize what matters, I think such a mindset can also discourage pursuit of our dreams and even encourage a fatalistic perspective.

I prefer a more optimistic, proactive approach to life.

If I think that life is drawing to a close, I am less likely do something challenging like build a health coaching business or even put in the work to be a stronger cyclist or to live as healthfully as possible. If I am living as if each day is my last, why bother?

But, if I adopt a perspective that views each day as a clean slate, a new opportunity, a chance for a beginning (with the benefit of the wisdom I have earned along the way to getting here), my options feel, if not limitless, far less bounded by fate or even time.

Every day is a chance to make a difference, to live my purpose and my values more fully, to embody my personal and professional missions. By choosing this outlook, I can act accordingly. It feels worth the risk to go after my goals and worth the effort to improve and grow.

It is easy to get discouraged when goals are not achieved as quickly as I might hope because life and responsibilities get in the way. However, I am empowered by embracing the belief that each day gives me a new chance to work toward my dreams and to add value to the world in new and exciting ways.

Tim McGraw hopes we get the chance to “live like we are dying.” My wish for you and for myself is that we seize the chance to live like we are living—right now, every day—not just existing or biding our time until we until we really are in our last days.

The mission of my coaching practice is “to teach the lifestyle practices that help people live and age with power and purpose, while contributing to the creation of a healthier, more compassionate world.” I believe this mission is far better served by living each day as if life has just begun and goals are worth pursuing and that my efforts matter.

I encourage you to try on this perspective and see how you like it. Compare it to viewing each day as if it were your last. What would you do differently if you lived each day as if life were just beginning?

Biking in the Radiant Light

I recently finished three months of telephone coaching with Tejashree Chawla (11Tejashree@gmail.com), a co-active coach and workshop facilitator, whom I met several years ago when she lived in Wichita for a short time. We have stayed connected since she moved back to California, and I recently accepted her invitation for coaching. I tend to be very introspective, have kept journals for years, read nonfiction—including a lot of personal development books—voraciously and maintain several reflective practices. When Tejashree invited me to participate in coaching, I did not have a specific goal or need in mind, but decided to focus on finding more tools for managing stress because I feel like I struggle with that more than ever.

Having completed the coaching, I am still not consistently managing stress effectively, but I did experience several benefits and insights, which I want to share here.

A major tool that Tejashree uses is shifting perspectives. This reminds me of the concept of reframing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_reframing), which I have used both personally and professionally for many years. I struggle with sustaining my perspective shifts when I feel bogged down with worry or overwhelmed with responsibilities. However, if I can remind myself of my desired perspective frequently enough, it does help. When I spoke with Tejashree last Thursday, I had been carrying around a great deal of anxiety and was constantly feeling the nervousness in my stomach. We explored several ways to alleviate the heaviness of that feeling, but the one that was most helpful was her invitation to adopt a “Biking-in-the-Radiant-Light” perspective. I generally feel free, strong, powerful and happy when I am on my bike. When Tejashree asked me to describe a visual or visceral association with assuming the biking perspective, I described it as one of rising power, in the form of light, from my stomach. It then radiated into my limbs and throughout my body. I felt energized, confident and capable. When I stop to imagine myself on my bike, I feel the anxiety lightening, and I feel happier and freer. Although I struggle to maintain the perspective constantly, it does serve as an effective mental stop sign when the anxiety starts to take over.

In mid-August Tejashree and I discussed the sense of foreboding that comes upon me around the time school starts every year. Swimming pools close, and I know that cold, dark weather is coming and will linger for months and months. I don’t want to let the coming winter usurp my remaining weeks of summer weather. Yet, I struggle. I had already decided that I really must maintain some level of winter cycling this year, and not have all bike training relegated to the indoor trainer. Tejashree encouraged me to consider more ways to ward off the cold-weather doldrums. One of the ways I did this was to attach meaning to living in Kansas. For example, I acknowledged that one of the prices I pay for living in a place with so many wonderful, open, quiet roads for cycling is dealing with winter.

I think the most helpful contribution Tejashree made to my personal exploration during our work together was her ability to listen to what I was saying and then articulate her interpretation of it. On one occasion, her expression captured a concept that I had been trying to form fully in my mind. I knew the feeling, but hadn’t been able to find the right words to express it. Tejashree said something that felt just right. I don’t think she realized at the time how significant that single sentence was for me, but it began to percolate in my mind and, within several days, had morphed into a personal mantra that brings me hope and encouragement, peace and empowerment.

The phone is my least favorite mode of communication. I usually cringe when any phone for which I am responsible for answering rings, and I try to use any other medium first. So, I was not at all sure that thirty minutes twice a month for three months on the phone was going to appeal to me. While my feelings toward the phone have not changed, I did find our phone conversations to be useful and meaningful. On our last call, I told Tejashree that it has been nice to have a place, other than my journal, in which to explore ideas and thoughts around personal development. I have been feeling rather constrained because of a very tight schedule. The temporal constraints create mental constraints, and then I create social constraints, trying to protect precious minutes to myself. My coaching calls were short breaks in a busy life where I could bounce ideas off someone who genuinely listened and who posed challenges and inquiries designed to nurture my personal growth.

I feel that I have grown through our calls, and my decision to launch this blog at the time that I did was influenced by a challenge that Tejashree posed. So, I will work to maintain, or at least consistently revisit, the “Biking-in-the-Radiant-Light” perspective—a gift both of my cycling life and of my work with Tejashree. If you are intrigued by my coaching experience, I encourage you to contact Tejashree and find out if you too might benefit from some time dedicated to yourself and your growth.

Here is her contact information:

Tejashree Chawla, MA, MS

Listening for your brilliance & championing forward action!

Co-Active Coach; Workshop Facilitator

PH: 310-514-7137, Email: 11Tejashree@gmail.com