Crafting a life that feels right – A lesson by Danielle LaPorte

How do you want to feel? This is the question that the wise, lyrical, soulful Danielle LaPorte asks us in her wonderful book, The Fire Starter Sessions.

Why is understanding how you want to feel so important? Danielle says:

Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most creative thing you can do with your life.

Yet, how many of us set goals based on how we want to “feel?” Aren’t feelings and emotions better left upon the shelf, as Savage Garden said all those years ago? Shouldn’t our goals be set “rationally?” Danielle explains:

We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We set our sights on the babe, the boat, the bucks. We get them. Sometimes. They make us happy. Sometimes. We set a goal, we reach it, we feel great. Unless, of course, we feel empty or flustered or anxious that what we’re doing isn’t working to fill the hole in our soul.

Let me say it another way: Typically, we come up with our to-do lists, our bucket lists, and our strategic plans – all the stuff we want to have, get, and experience outside of ourselves. All of those aspirations are being driven by an innate desire to feel a certain way. What if, first we got clear on how actually want to feel within ourselves, and then designed our to-do lists?

Getting clear about how you want to feel may unearth some surprises – you may find a big dissonance between the goals you’ve been gunning for and the way you want to feel. Danielle says:

Maybe you want to feel “energized” or “joyful.” For years, you’ve been thinking you want a three-thousand-square-foot house in the city and to be promoted to VP. You should want a bigger house and a bigger job, right? Bigger is growth, right?

But maybe those things aren’t energizing or joy-inducing at all. You could be mortgage poor and working sixty hours a week. Perhaps energizing and joyful would come from a stylin’ little condo, and you could use your extra money to see one European city a year and help your nephew through school.

Instead of going after the “the babe, the boat, the bucks,” Danielle advises us:

First, get clear on how you want to feel.
Then, do stuff that makes you feel that way.

As inspiring as this is, identifying how we want to feel – and then living like that – is anxiety producing. What if the way you’ve been living your life is at odds with the way you want to feel? What if you realize that your goals and the striving and the workaholism is not you, but a remnant from another time when you absorbed these messages? Do you listen to these messages which continue to run through your veins, or do you listen to your heart, which tugs and pulls and cajoles you in a different direction? Maybe you want to replace the striving with some play, some soul-itude, some creativity. Maybe a life in which there is time for strolls, for hearing the birds sing, for basking in the sun with the dog who’s calling you a friend. Some time to sit on the bench with a book, barefoot, feeling the wetnesss of the ground, feeling the solidity of the earth. What do you do then, when you feel it is time to make some changes to the way you live your life?

Danielle’s advice:

Be done with feeling guilty for wanting to feel the way you want to feel. Follow your desired emotion. Don’t analyze it too deeply. Just let it roll and rumble a bit. It may be there to humble you, to expand you, heal, surprise, or reinvent you. Anywhere it leads, it’s there for a divine reason.

So, how do YOU want to feel?

If you find this post helpful to someone you feel is trying to find their way,  struggling to get off a road that is not their own, or trying hard to break free from the rat race, do share this post with them. Sharing=Loving!

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