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From a very young age, many people are caught in a struggle between acting on their desires and censoring them. We interpret every impulse from what we’d like to eat to what we’d like to dedicate our lives to, as safe or unsafe, good or bad, and acceptable or unacceptable. What gets taken into consideration, is what consequences it will have on our other desires, such as social standing, connection to others, physical and mental health, or other people’s lives. If the bad outweighs the good then that particular impulse is generally discarded. Of course defining what is good or bad is all subjective.
Having an internal system that regulates our impulses is a very practical thing. It’s like having a government system with many checks and balances in place so as to avoid potentially disastrous situations such as dictatorship. However, we all know that even with the best intentions, governments don’t always take the right actions, and neither do we for that matter. On top of this, governments are always redefining laws or creating new ones to keep up with the times, and so should we, when it comes to the reasoning behind our actions.
So the question is how can you avoid taking “wrong” turns and instead gain clarity on what actions are the right ones to take at any given moment in your life?
The answer lies in fine tuning your ability to recognize, trust and act on your highest excitement. Now, I know what you are thinking. Veronika, if I act on what most excites me I’d wind up broke or in prison. Before you go down that road, I want to bring your attention to the fact that this is your impulse-regulating system talking, and this means that right now in this very moment, whatever you think is exciting, is not really your highest excitement, because it is wracked with resistance, in the form of potential consequences.
Following your highest excitement takes practice and mindfulness. The first step of recognizing what your highest excitement is, is to put your given options through the filter of what feels the lightest or where you have the least resistance. For example, just this morning before I started writing this article, I didn’t really feel the inspiration to write. Forcing myself to write felt heavier than chilling out and reading. Now I could have gone against that and forced myself to write for the sake of doing something seemingly more productive than reading. It is Monday after all. However, on the occasions where I do this, it has always taken me twice as long to form my thoughts and create content with an insightful message. In other words, it becomes less or just as “unproductive” as having acted on the impulse to sit and read, not to mention that it tends to fuel frustration and struggle which only leads to more frustration and struggle.
Today, I followed the impulse to read and about 30 minutes into this, I got the sudden inspiration for this article. At first I observed that little voice inside give me the initial spark. I didn’t act on it right away, but rather watched how the idea continued to grow inside. The initial spark began to gather momentum until there was so much energy behind the idea that the feeling which arose in my body was none other than the definition of excitement: a feeling of great enthusiasm and eagerness (according to the oxford dictionary). The eagerness of this accumulated energy reached a point at which taking the action to write was not only effortless but the only obvious choice. This is called inspired action.
While I started out with this idea that I “should” write to be productive, the path to realizing that intention with the most ease and inspiration was not sitting down, ignoring how I felt and pushing through my resistance anyway. This type of approach, of discipline or doing what you think you should regardless of how you feel, is what most of us learn to follow in order to achieve success. Now, it’s not that hard work, discipline, or willpower can't lead to success, but, that depends on how you define success. I particularly like Deepak Chopra’s definition from his book “The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success.” In this book he states that “success is the ability to fulfill your desires with effortless ease.”
The thing is that we are not trained to see the connection between our current lightest choice and how it effortlessly leads us to fulfilling our overall intention or desire, or can even give birth to new and more exciting desires that you can’t even fathom with the information you have right now. This is why it is difficult for us to believe in the importance of acting on that seemingly unrelated impulse. We believe it would be a waste of our time and energy.
To challenge this belief, I’d like to invite you to turn this concept into an experiment or a game to see what kind of results you get. Test it out, track your results when you apply this new approach and at the same time track your happiness and satisfaction. After-all, do we not measure whether an action was right or not based on the amount of satisfaction and joy we get from the results? Pay close attention to whether or not the lightest path builds energy and momentum for your most excited path, and eventually results in the fulfillment of your overall desire. Give yourself at least a week to play with this. Meanwhile you can also reflect on some important events in your life and try to remember what were some of the actions you took that led you there. Try to recall what energy those actions came from. Inspiration or effort? What transpired as a result?
For example, looking back at how I arrived at the deeply meaningful inspiration to pursue coaching, it’s obvious it did not come from sitting down and planning or even thinking about it in the first place. The only thing I thought about was my desire to find clarity on my life’s purpose. Just as today where I acted on the impulse to read, my journey to coaching was also kickstarted by reading. I can’t remember what book I had been reading, but I remember getting an impulse to research other books by that author and in following that trail I came across a different author whose book I purchased on a whim. That led me to joining his Collective centered around the study of the law of attraction. This study brought me to the training, and now here I am. I never once thought when I purchased my coach’s book that this was going to be the solution to my lack of purpose. I just saw it as something interesting to read.
The same kind of path led me towards teaching tango. I was a bored 16 year old the day I started dancing tango. I couldn’t find anything more exciting to do one hot summer night than accept my neighbor’s invitation to come to his tango class. I had no idea that this impulse would lead to over a decade of intensely passionate dancing, training to become a pro, traveling around the world, learning Spanish, and eventually living in Argentina.
The same thing happened when I started teaching yoga. I had no idea that letting go of my nomadic lifestyle and moving to San Francisco, would lead to the sudden inspiration to sign up for a yoga teacher training. And I had no idea that changing my focus from tango to yoga would lead me back to Argentina to start an online yoga business, propelling me into this fervent self-study that resulted in becoming a coach.
Okay, I know what you are thinking, now. Great for you, Veronika, that you can just get up and go to Argentina when you want or that you can just decide to read on a Monday morning instead of working, but most of us have to be at work at 9am and do what’s required in order to not be fired, even if we’re not excited about it. You are right, I do have the luxury to organize my life in such a way that I can more or less decide what I want to do at any moment of the day. However, the path of highest excitement or least resistance is not exclusive to those whose work hours are more flexible.
Take the example of a client of mine with whom I’d been sharing this concept. She is an engineer at a tech company where deadlines are a crucial part of rolling out new apps and devices. As a particular deadline approached and she and her team were searching for solutions, she decided to follow the choice that felt the lightest. Note that in her case, that was not reading a book. Nor was it to take a vacation until the right inspiration comes through. What felt the lightest to her was exploring the development of the product from a particular angle. The deadline was met, and although the product was far from perfect, it was the exact version they needed in order to piece together some other missing components.
Excited about what happened in her work as a result of following what felt lightest, my client began to apply this same method to other aspects of her life. In our next session she reported that although she had been skeptical at first, the results of this experiment continued to have a positive impact on everything around her. She felt more consistently satisfied and energized without having taken any grandiose actions like quitting her job or moving to a different country. This isn’t to say that she won’t eventually do that when the pieces come together as a culmination of those impulses.
Now one thing I want to make sure you understand is that following the lightest path or the path of highest excitement is not about ignoring or denying fears, stuffing emotions away, or staying in your comfort zone and avoiding challenges. It is about not letting any of that be an obstacle towards the fulfillment of your desires. In other words, learn to diffuse the resistance, first by recognizing where and what it is. This will be all of those potential consequences that come to mind when evaluating your options.
As you slide from struggle to relief, by following what feels lightest, it’s time to evaluate the efficacy of your consequence-driven, impulse-regulating system. If for example, you have a fear that acting on a desire would lead to no one liking you, it is worthwhile to explore what’s behind that fear. Perhaps this comes from a parent who demonstrated disapproval when you engaged in activities you enjoyed but they believed to be a waste of time, such as art. Over time you build up a lot of resistance towards creating art because it comes with this negative feeling of disapproval. Once you work through this fear, creating art can become your path of highest excitement and feel like the “right” action to take.
When you apply this kind of mindfulness towards impulses you receive, evaluating what feels lightest or most exciting, and working through the resistance that stands in your way, it becomes much easier to feel confident that the action you’re taking is the right action. It gives you the freedom to pursue what truly lights you up and live your life with passion and purpose.
If you are searching for more passion and purpose grab my FREE live your Dream life Kit or reach out to me for a complimentary 30-minute coaching session where we'll identify your dominant form of resistance and begin to light the path towards your highest excitement.