growth

Thank you to Jill Bates and Robin Flannigan for simultaneously inviting me to participate in this blog hop about “why I write”. Part of my eager acceptance to join was the personal appeal of this topic.

 

Throughout my life, writing has served many purposes: creative outlet in my first grade construction paper projects, essential refuge from the insecurity of high school, professional growth as a young magazine editor, a sounding page for major milestones like marriage, parenthood and divorce.  Now, as a coach who works with women to help them realize—and thrive in—their potential, writing has become exponentially valuable. I use writing not just to express or develop myself, I use it as a tool to help others do the same.

 

In my blog at http://thrivepotential.com/blog/ I strive to share ideas that will inspire others. As @ThrivePotential I share succinct points and ideas about women, positive thinking and leadership. As an introvert (albeit, a slight one), I appreciate the opportunity to process my thoughts on screen or paper, so I incorporate writing into my workshops as a technique for self-reflection and empowerment.

 

Recently my own coach encouraged me to write more. My thoughts were getting muddy and clogged in mind. She knew that once the words started flowing, they would become clearer. And she was right.

 

A daily practice of writing requires more discipline than I have been willing to commit lately. I am busy building my business, parenting, enjoying life. But, like exercise, when I find the time to write, I feel more energized, focused and fulfilled. This written reflection has been a serendipitous reinforcement of my recent reminder about the healthiness of writing. (Does that mean I can skip the gym today?)

 

Be sure to check out next week’s bloggers:

 

Laura Erdman-Luntz  (http://www.LauraErdmanLuntz.com)

Experienced Yoga Educator, Author, inspiring Life Coach and Business Entrepreneur, Laura Erdman-Luntz has over 20 years experience in the fitness and wellness industries.  She uniquely blends her Life Coaching knowledge and vast experience with Yoga to create programs, classes and workshops that truly do bring mind and body together for positive change, inspiring people to live their most authentic life.  She incorporates New Thought ideas into classes and programs on positive living, manifesting and changing subconscious beliefs.

 

Vicki M. James (http://www.stand-out-results.com/blog)

Small Business Marketing Strategist and Branding Expert of Stand Out Results, Vicki M. James is an expert in internal and external branding, marketing and culture, working with local and national companies from family owned to corporations for over 20 years.  As the founder of Stand Out Results, her mission is to share her knowledge and help entrepreneurs become successful by exceeding their expectations by becoming the go to resource for marketing strategy, branding and customer experience.

 

Active couple lying on grass

 

What’s the key to happiness? Is it possible that it could be something as uncomfortable as vulnerability? Vulnerability. Thinking of it tends to wipe rather than paint a smile on most faces. But let’s think of some opposites to being vulnerable: being guarded, hiding, masking our true feelings, avoiding realities that often need to be addressed. Those don’t sound so great either, do they?

 

Before I go any further and risk sounding like I have this whole vulnerability thing figured out, let me share a recent experience.

 

After a typical professional group meeting tinged with tension and tough talk, I left the business world to attend a “circle” event. This intimate gathering is based on openness, trust and letting go. In other words, vulnerability. It’s a beautiful thing to be part of. And I enjoyed every minute of listening to others’ challenges and offering my perspective and encouragement. But I skipped my turn to share my own challenge. And afterward one of my circle mates (and friends) called me on it. “Were you afraid to be vulnerable?” Ha! Not me! I’m a coach. And then I thought about it some more on the way home. And then I asked my husband if he thought I held back sometimes. We agreed I had some room for improvement.

 

Of course, vulnerability is relative and depends on the context, which makes it that much trickier. How much of ourselves we expose in a job interview is very different than what we show to a romantic partner (I hope!). But what about all of those in-between moments? Often we are influenced by those around us. We may protect ourselves if we sense that’s the norm. Or we may demonstrate our vulnerability with pride among more guarded companions, only to find ourselves needing to recalibrate when we change environments. What happened in the circle was that I was surrounded by extremely courageous women who have worked for years to get to the point of being able to surrender their “protective” layers and trust that good comes from letting go. Being surrounded by that much vulnerability helped me see that I still have some more barriers to remove.

 

So, now back to my point about vulnerability and happiness. The documentary Happy offers a 75-minute dose of profound joy and these universal keys to happiness:

 

  • Connecting with others
  • Caring about things bigger than ourselves
  • Having new experiences
  • Doing things that are meaningful

 

Think about the stuff that holds us back from each of these.  When we are guarded, we limit our ability to connect with another person. When we try to protect our own happiness, we find it difficult to embrace spiritual ideas like gratitude. When we don’t give ourselves the permission to fail, we avoid trying new experiences. And if we are tangled up in our own mess, it’s hard to direct positive energy toward others.

 

These are the links between vulnerability and happiness. Of course knowing this intellectually is a lot easier than actually doing something about it, right? So how do you get started?

 

Here are some ideas:

 

Pro the Cons

Make a list of everything that gets in the way of your happiness. Next to each item write something positive about it.

Get Informed and Inspired

Watch Happy (it’s streaming on Netflix). Or read Stumbling Onto Happiness (see review below). Notice the parts that resonate with you and give yourself a happiness assignment.

Go For It

Choose a skill you’ve wanted to learn or improve. Set a goal for your first steps—and find a process or person to hold you accountable.

Do Good

Identify a cause or area that interests you and find an upcoming opportunity to volunteer.

Nourish

Feed your spiritual self. Whether it’s through meditation, yoga, prayer, or a stroll in the woods, make time to connect with something more powerful than yourself.

 

For myself, I have committed to writing regularly. And I doubled up on my coaching sessions so I can break through those lingering barriers. I’m ready to let it all out and become even happier!

 

For most of my childhood and adolescence I wanted to be a writer. While my top choices were (1) eccentric novelist living in Paris, (2) prolific Rolling Stone reporter, or (3) jet-set Condé Nast travel writer, I would have settled for being a newspaper journalist. My parents were willing to pay for college tuition, but only for someone pursuing a “real job.”
In other words, not an aspiring writer.
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