Pursue Passion, Playfulness, and the Pleasure Principle
Approaching greatness sounds like serious business, and it is in only one sense: that it will demand a lot from you to make it happen. But this is your life we’re talking about, not simply an arduous task that must be done. Ironically, to achieve great things in your life through yoga, instead of elbow grease you’ll require all the passion and playfulness you can muster. Your passion is the energy that fuels the entire process of turning your truth into your new reality. Your playfulness is your enthusiasm, your ability to have fun, be spontaneous and get excited this approach will actually help you the most at designing the next authentic stage of your life and career.
If you find that yoga is drudgery, it’s time to find a new coach. Your coach should make the entire process as positive and fun as possible, but you, too, need to focus on having fun as you learn and grow. If the process becomes too dull or painful, you’ll probably quit short of your goals.
Luanne’s husband, Elliot, constantly complained that their home was a mess. Luanne was ashamed of how she kept the home, especially after giving up her job to be a stay-at-home wife and mother she felt she wasn’t living up to the responsibilities of her new role. In yoga, I asked Luanne to approach the home tasks in a new way with optimism, a sense of play, and fresh ideas. In her Achilles Plan she set the goals of hiring a home organizer, she bought and installed an outstanding sound system in the house to make task completion more pleasurable while listening to her favorite music, and she hired a designer to make physical changes in the home that would help with the organization.
The biggest surprise for Luanne was that the home improvement project became fun. She enjoyed working with the home organizer as everything became neater and put in its place. The designer made some clever changes, increasing storage capacity and eliminating the household clutter. All the while, Luanne listened to her music system as she worked on the house and found she could slip into a kind of meditative state as she listened and organized. She loved being able to listen and learn about classical music composers and soon supplemented her listening with symphony tickets; eventually she and Elliot bought a season series.
Elliot was appreciative and proud of how Luanne was adapting to her new role. They had agreed that it was important to have one stay-at-home parent until the kids reached early adolescence, and Luanne accepted that responsibility, even though she had enjoyed her job. Now she was learning how to become passionate and playful as she made a transition to a new part of her life. Over time, not only did Luanne find great satisfaction as a stay-at-home mom, but also her relationship with Elliot improved. She discovered, as many of my clients have, that improvement in one sphere often optimizes another sphere.
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People often underestimate the importance of innovation in everyday life. However, it is vital to harness one’s creativity and out-of-the-box thinking when working to optimize one’s spheres. This is very challenging for most people. I call the mental space one gets in for innovation and creativity white space thinking (WST). (I called it “clear the slate” thinking in earlier writings.) It is vital for you to have completely fresh thinking about approaching a goal or an obstacle. You need to lose all your past assumptions and reassess your routines. Be open to alternatives. Remind yourself that just because you’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean you need to do it that way in the future. Find an activity or environment that fosters your creativity. Going for a walk, meditation, and even exercise often help people enter into white space thinking. Think of what activity would foster WST for you.
For example, Theo wanted to open his own retail store one of his goals was to run his own business. During yoga sessions, Theo often communicated how driven he was to open this store he even dreamed about it but then would raise all the reasons why it wasn’t possible. When creating his business plan, for instance, Theo discovered that he couldn’t afford the payments for his home as well as his new store. For a few weeks, Theo was stuck, but his coach encouraged him to move into WST. Theo decided to use running to move into that space. He had always found that the familiar motion allowed him to reflect and think about things differently. Normally, Theo listened to music while he ran, but he decided that he’d try running without music and concentrate on the obstacles to opening a store. As he ran, he happened to think about his late grandfather, an immigrant who lived above a corner grocery store with his family. It occurred to him that he might combine his living space with his working space. Within the week, he found the perfect space that met both requirements and sold his current residence. Would Theo have come up with this idea if he hadn’t used WST? Possibly, but it might have taken him weeks or months to do so, and by then he might have given up on the possibility of affording his business.
WST is also used when a client knows he wants to design and implement something new in his life whether a career, a house, a hobby, a life purpose, or even a relationship. For example, Kyle knew he wanted to change careers, but he didn’t know what career he wanted to pursue. So Kyle’s coach asked him to practice WST by making a list of up to ten possible careers that he might be willing to pursue. Then Kyle had to investigate each possibility and state its pros and cons from his perspective. His investigation could include reading about it; talking to experts about it; volunteering and doing it for a while; and even just imagining what it would be like. Kyle had to present the pros and cons of each career possibility to his coach for discussion.
Another trigger to WST is making mistakes that lead you to an unexpected thought or discovery. Most leaders will say that mistakes need to be valued in managers. This is one of the reasons stated frequently because mistakes can trigger WST and therefore generate innovation.