Why I do What I do

I recently watched an old TED talk- How Great Leaders Inspire Action by Simon Sinek- stressing the importance of businesses knowing WHY they do what they do before attending to the what and how of it.This is a reversal of the typical paradigm which tells us businesses must first know WHAT and HOW they’re going to do something, before they can be bothered by WHY. The speaker goes on to say that companies who’ve mastered this new paradigm, companies like Apple, are the ones that know staying power and true success.

This made perfect sense to me and got me thinking about why I do what I do, specifically with regard to this new blog I’ve begun. To start, why do it? Furthermore, how does it fit in to my overall message- a truth I seek to demonstrate through all my various personal and professional ventures? And lastly, how will I go about making this message known?

I’ll give you a clue, I don’t have it all figured out. This is going to be a very organic, learn-as-I-go type process. That’s what’s so fun and frightening about it! Here’s what I do know though…

I’ve started this blog largely out of my own frustrations. Sure I belong to social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram, and they provide a certain degree of amusement, information and  sometimes even inspiration; but all too often, I’m left feeling hollow. I don’t want the veneer; I want the truth. Oh and I’m as guilty of it as anyone. But I want to do better.

I want to ultimately create a space where people can share their pain because I believed pain shared is pain lessened. Some of the most profound healing experiences I’ve had, in fact all of them, have been the product of my opening up and letting the ugly hang out- the parts of me I’d hidden away and pressed down so deep inside I forgot they existed. And knowing I was still accepted and loved by others, even myself. That’s the real gift.

It is only in sharing our worst- our traumas and regrets, mistakes and heartaches, that we begin to know relief and grow into our best selves. We see so much of that “quick-fix,” “read this self-help book” and “be rich by next week” language that we forgot what real transformation consists of..

For me, change or growth of any kind can only occur after I get real honest about where I’m at, begin to embrace my dark side. It is precisely in these broken, tender places that the light begins to make itself known. The Buddhists teach us that it is only when we get in touch with ALL aspects of our being that enlightenment can occur.

“When we touch the center of sorrow, when we sit with discomfort without trying to fix it, when we stay present to the pain of disapproval or betrayal and let it soften us, these are times that we connect with bohdichitta.” –Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

I’ve studied Buddhism and it’s message about suffering for 10+ years now, but I’ve been fortunate enough to receive this message from other teachers, too, specifically those of a recovery community I’ve belonged to for more than 4 years now. But it’s also a message almost every spiritual leader that’s ever existed has espoused: Get to know your own pain and you will understand the pain of the world. Be vulnerable, bold, awake.

So this is where I will come to share my pains on the pathway to happiness. Because, you see, that’s really what it’s all about. We embrace the pain so that we can more fully embrace the joy. All of life is cycles, an ebb and flow, and every experience only promised to change. But the goal is to be ok through all of it, pain and pleasure, without clinging to one or the other.

So that’s what I’ll attempt to do here, in the virtual sphere- share my sorrows (as well as my joys) in an effort to know greater freedom and happiness. I also happen to think things like meditation, mindfulness in everyday situations, and a fabulous and colorful home-cooked meal can be pathways to happiness, too, so I’ll share some of that stuff here as well. But this isn’t all about me. I want you to share too! In fact, I’m counting on it.

For now, this will occur via the comment section. However, in time (and resource readiness), I will unveil Out of my Cocoon, the website, an interactive community-based site that will feature contributing writers on a variety of painful topics, from job loss to chronic illness, but more importantly, how peace was acheived in the midst of these dark times. Not after the fact, but during; that’s the tough part.

Speaking of Out of Cocoon, my namesake, I guess I should mention its significance. Pema Chodron, a well-known female, American Buddhist nun (cool, huh?) has written some of my favorite books, including The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, in which she teaches that we must remain open to all of life’s experiences to know real peace.

“It’s hard to know whether to laugh or to cry at the human predicament. Here we are with so much wisdom and tenderness, and—without even knowing it—we cover it over to protect ourselves from insecurity. Although we have the potential to experience the freedom of a butterfly, we mysteriously prefer the small and fearful cocoon of ego.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to step out of my cocoon.

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