Week 40: How Hopelessness Can Become Our Best Hope [Loveable041]

“Hope can be a beautiful thing, because it gives us direction and imbues our lives with a sense of purpose and meaning. But hope can also be the worst of things, because sometimes we settle for having a direction, rather than walking in that direction. Sometimes, our numbered days are spent hoping and waiting, instead of acting and living.”

In Episode 41 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about how the thing that is supposed to sustain us, actually detains us. We talk about how the thing that is supposed to inspire us, actually conspires against us. That thing is called hope. By the end of this conversation, you’ll be done with dreaming about what you love to do, and you’ll be more interested in pursuing what you love to do.

loveable podcast episode 41

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Fear of success can create as much resistance to practicing our passions as does fear of failure.
  • Don’t wait for authority to ordain the practicing of your passions. Practice, and maybe someday you’ll earn your ordination.
  • Don’t just do what you’re good at, do what you love to do, and you’ll get better at it.
  • Don’t just ask what you want to practice; ask yourself why you are practicing it. Practice it for joy, not gain.
  • Practicing a passion can be pleasurable; practicing it with the intention of redeeming something in the world becomes purposeful.
  • There is an important difference between having a direction, and walking in that direction.
  • Conditions will never feel right to practice your passion, because resistance will always be present. All we can do is get walking anyway, with resistance coming along for the stroll.
  • When you start practicing your passion, your resistance won’t go away. At first, it will increase. Oftentimes, in the form of shame and self-doubt.
  • Suffering isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re walking the wrong path; usually it’s simply a sign that you’re walking.

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How to Stop Chasing What Won’t Make Us Happy

He’s growling and twitching and aging way too quickly.

I’m sitting in my reading chair, trying to enjoy On the Road by Jack Kerouac. (For some reason, I’m convinced the title of my next book will be found within it.) But I can’t concentrate, because our dog Cole—a miniature schnoodle who is all shnauzer—is standing on red alert at the window and salivating at every creature of the land and air that passes by.

Mostly birds. An occasional squirrel.

loveable study experience

Photo Credit: Yastremska (Bigstock)

A yellow finch lands in the fountain outside the window. Now Cole is silently apoplectic. Shivering and shuddering with desire and frustration. I watch him and I laugh to myself, thinking how silly he is, how silly dogs are. He’s made this bird the center of his universe. At this moment, he believes catching it is the only thing that really matters. His instinct tells him it will satisfy him. Will it? Probably, for a minute or two. Then there will be another bird to bark at, another squirrel to chase up a tree. I think again about how silly it all is, and I return my attention to the book. But my eyes won’t focus because my stomach has just sunk.

My whole life I’ve created birds to chase.

For a while—a long while—my birds were grades. Also, I chased friends. And girls. My birds were gadgets to save for and restaurants I couldn’t afford. I chased attention. Approval. Love. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I look around, and I see bird chasing happening everywhere. We chase youth and immortality. We chase image and Instagram. We chase righteousness and victory.

I sit there and watch Cole shake as he watches the finch splash, and I know that I’ve chased a lot of birds in my life, but the yellow finch in my life has always been success. I’ve twitched and trembled and shuddered and salivated at the window of my life, growling at success out there just beyond my reach, splashing around in the fountains of the world. Once I catch my yellow finch, I tell myself, I’ll be able to finally relax, settle in, enjoy this ordinary life. It’s silly, of course. The way to live the simple bliss of an ordinary life is not to chase an extraordinary one; it’s to quit chasing an extraordinary one.

Because in order to truly enjoy what you have, you have to release what you don’t.

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Week 39: The Blessing of Being Unfinished [Loveable 040]

“We have a list of things we think must be accomplished inside of us before we can start taking risks outside of us. We think, Once I’m more confident, I’ll start dating. Once I’m more patient, I’ll have children. Once I’m wise enough, I’ll start a blog. Once my insides look as orderly as everyone else looks on the outside, I’ll follow my heart and my passion and start doing the things I want to do in the world. To live the things we love, we have to live them with our hearts feeling a little unfinished.”

In Episode 40 of The Loveable Podcast, we tackle one of the most common kinds of internal resistance to practicing our passions: the feeling that we are not ready yet, that we have to somehow grow more, be more transformed, feel more like we’ve arrived. By the end of this conversation, you’ll be wanting to get started sooner rather than later on the living of your passions…

loveable podcast episode 40

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Passion must always be balanced by a paycheck, but too often it gets eclipsed by our pursuit of a paycheck.
  • Shame operates on the assumption of scarcity; grace operates on the assumption of abundance. Which partner will you choose to dance with?
  • As our clarity about our passions increases, so will our internal resistance to them.
  • Clarity about our passions often comes in a quiet moment of surprise.
  • The secret to practicing your passions is the same as the secret to improv comedy: in the words of Stephen Colbert, you have to learn to love the bomb.
  • You’ll never be “finished” enough to practice your passions without bombing at least a little, so you may as well start now.
  • Happiness comes from success; resilience (and thus joy) comes from failing, and then continuing.
  • Most of us have more than one true passion.
  • Creativity that is perfect doesn’t exist; creativity that is shared is called art.

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Week 38: What If a Resurrected Life Isn’t as Impossible as It May Seem? [Loveable 039]

“Sometimes the simplest, most elegant, most life-changing solutions are right in front of our noses. But we can’t see them, because we are locked in to old schemas. A schema is a mental framework that helps organize and interpret information in the world around us. Schemas are essential when we need to act quickly and decisively. But schemas can also be a problem, because sometimes they’re outdated. Or worse, some of our schemas were never correct in the first place…”

In Episode 39 of The Loveable Podcast, we examine the outdated mental rules and practical hurdles that get in the way of us discovering our passions, practicing them, and cultivating a sense of purpose in our lives. By the end of this conversation, you will have greater clarity about what are the actual barriers that stand between you and your passions, and which ones are simply in your head…

loveable podcast episode 39

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • The way to overcome impostor syndrome is not to try convincing yourself that you are not an impostor; rather, try to embrace that we are all making it up as we go.
  • Procrastination is almost never a sign of laziness; rather, it is almost always a symptom of fearfulness (in disguise).
  • We need both passion and ambition, but we also need to be sure that our ambition is subordinate to our passion.
  • Where our passion leads us is relatively inconsequential; it’s the practicing of them that matters most.
  • Practicing our passion requires embracing our worthiness even more fully, and leaning on our people even more heavily.
  • The things you are wired to do and here to do and love to are all the same thing. That is good news!
  • You can ask “What if?” with fear and shame, or with bravery and hope. The former blinds us to possibility; the latter opens our eyes to it.
  • Asking ourselves both “What if I fail?” and “What if I succeed?” can reveal limiting beliefs about success and failure that are inaccurate and preventing a resurrected life.
  • Asking “What if?” helps us to become a more objective observer of our thoughts and our inaccurate “mental rules” about life.
  • A passion is something we are so extravagantly fond of doing that we would be willing to suffer for it if necessary.

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The Question at the Heart of Every Parent-Teen Relationship

His silence is driving me crazy.

For two months, we’ve been dropping him off at the local community theater for rehearsals. He has performed in the theater before, and always the routine is the same. For months, we wonder what sort of role he is playing, and for months, he refuses to even read lines with us. He won’t reveal the show as it is being formed, because he wants us to first experience it when it is finally performed. Maybe that’s a teen thing, but probably it’s just a human thing: at some level, we all wish we could present ourselves to the world finely polished and finally finished.

Now, it’s opening night. The spotlights are on. The seats are full. His mother and I sit in the front row, looking slightly upward at the stage. The waiting, for us, is over. I will finally hear my son speak. The play begins.

For about fifteen minutes, there is no sign of him at all.

parent teen relationships

Photo Credit: peshkov (Bigstock)

Then, he enters stage left. However, immediately, his character becomes frightened by the anger onstage and he runs wildly offstage again. The crowd titters. The scene changes. We wait. The scene changes again. We wait. Finally, he enters stage left once again. But once again, he becomes frightened right away and retreats offstage. The laughter at his antics is louder this time. I don’t laugh. I’m too busy wanting to hear my son speak.

His silence is driving me crazy.

A long scene follows, with no sign of him, but we get a little more information: his character has been mute since the age of five. Might we go through this whole night without hearing him speak? Then, once again, he is on stage. And, once again, he is silent, this time smiling, and handing an apple to another character, as the spotlight fades and the first act concludes in darkness.

His silence is driving me crazy.

After a brief intermission, the lights brighten once again, and he is sitting cross-legged, at the corner of the stage. From the front row, I can almost reach out and touch him. He listens to the dialogue of the other characters. Occasionally, one character will raise their voice, and he will flinch, but this time he does not run away. He sits quietly. The scene goes on for five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. He sits, listening. Flinching.

His silence is driving me crazy.

As I sit and watch, I become aware that I have not felt this way in a while. On this night, I’m desperate to hear my son speak, but I have not desired that so much lately. He is almost fifteen years old, and these days, I am more likely to wish him silent than to wish him speak. In the last couple of years, his words have become increasingly challenging, in one way or another. Challenging because they test the peace of our home and the peace of my heart. Challenging because they test my patience and my boundaries. Challenging because they test my character and my love and my deepest convictions. In the midst of all that challenging, I’ve begun, from time to time, to wish him silent.

And yet, tonight, his silence is driving me crazy.

Tonight, I remember a night when my almost fifteen-year-old was almost fifteen seconds old. Then, too, his silence drove me crazy. I held my breath, waiting for his first screams, his first howls, announcing that his lungs worked. Announcing his life was intact. Announcing my life was no longer intact; announcing that everything I had worked so hard to become was now subordinate to something he had just made me: a father.

There was a time when I longed to hear his voice.

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Week 37: When You Think You Don’t Know How to Live [Loveable 038]

“Sometimes, joy is simply undone things finally lived. We need to keep the door of our hearts open, so we can listen to our urges and our wants. Many of them are trying to lead us into joy. Yet, when we’ve been shutting the door on them for so long, it can be hard to break the habit and keep it ajar.”

We all want to find our passion and discover our purpose, yet many of us have difficulty doing so, and so we think our passions are hide to find. They’re not. They are usually right in front of us, but we simply fail to see them. In Episode 38 of The Loveable Podcast, we will move you one step closer to seeing them, with five familiar questions…

loveable podcast episode 38

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Pursuing your passion may not involve a huge overhaul of your life; it may just require a few tiny tweaks. The magnitude of change is probably correlated with the magnitude of the false self you have been living from.
  • The false self robs us of our passions by infusing them with too much ambition.
  • Discovering our passions is not about arriving at clarity, but gradually increasing our clarity.
  • The ultimate barrier to pursuing your passion is inside of you. It is called Resistance. It also goes by another name: Shame.
  • Our passions don’t need to be great; they just need to be lived.
  • The right action will occur to the relaxed mind.
  • When it comes to pursuing our passion, the only way to fail is to not get started at all.
  • Our passions wait on us; it is never too late to discover them.
  • Maybe our grade school teachers were on to something when they taught us the “Five Ws” of information gathering: who, what, where, when, and why. Who do you want to reach out to? What do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to go? When will you let yourself listen? Why not now?

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Week 36: Why Wanting Is the Way to Truly Living [Loveable 037]

“You have things you’ve always wanted to do with your life. Ways you’ve wanted to spend your days. Passions you’ve wanted to practice. Hobbies you’ve wanted to make a habit of. Love you’ve wanted to spread in the form of a vocation. Care you’ve wanted to give in the form of a calling. The things we want most are not, ultimately, material things, but purposeful things—patterns of living that feel meaningful. They are the deepest wishes of your truest self.”

In Episode 37 of The Loveable Podcast, we focus on a question that can begin to clarify for you what your passion is and in what direction your purpose may lie. That question is, “What do you want to do?” We are going to let that question lead us in the direction we are here to go…

loveable podcast episode 37

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • When our people interrupt what we are doing, they aren’t interfering with our passions; they are protecting us from unbridled ambition.
  • You’ll have plenty of time to save the world when your kids are grown and gone, and if you don’t, you probably have bigger problems than saving the world.
  • Our people clarify, converse about, and encourage the practicing of our passions.
  • The good news is this good: the things we are here to do are also the things we are wired to enjoy.
  • When we worry almost exclusively what we should do, or are supposed to do, shame is probably directing our lives.
  • A parent’s main task is to raise independent adults, so when a kid’s passion seems difficult to monetize, parents will intentionally and/or unintentionally discourage it.
  • Our passions cannot be discovered in a week; it takes a lifetime.
  • Sometimes, passion is not an activity but a way of engaging in all activities.
  • An impulse practiced repeatedly becomes a habit at best and an addiction at worst; a passion practiced repeatedly becomes a sense of purpose.

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The Ordinary Webs We Weave

It’s an early summer night and we’re doing early summer sorts of things, like boating and tubing on a river winding its way toward the Mississippi.

Then, as the sun dips low and the light gets long, we set our course for one of our favorite dinner spots. We prepare to feast. However, we are not the only ones feasting. A billion bugs just hatched. Suddenly, the air is thick with them, they are everywhere, plastered on the windshield of the boat, stuck on our sunglasses, caught in our hair and in our clothes.

As we disembark we notice, at the end of the dock, a spiderweb. It is coated in this harvest of insects. Heavy with them. Sagging under the weight of them. Quinn, who is ten, takes a look at it, and speaks truth: “Well, that spider had a good day.” I’m left digesting his words long after I’m done digesting the food.

Because in that spider I see much of humanity, including myself.

life purpose

Photo Credit: alpinetrail (Bigstock)

What I mean is, most of us have come to believe that the task of being alive is building just the right web in just the right spot at just the right time, and that bounty and abundance is the validation of the choices we’ve made. Our webs are our relationships and our accomplishments, our families and our kids and our jobs and our careers. We think we are here to build extraordinary webs out of our people and our purpose. And we believe if we do so, our webs should be laden with love, heavy with cash, sagging with satisfaction.

Here’s the thing, though, about that heavy web at the end of that buggy dock on that particular summer evening: it was just dumb luck.

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Week 35: The Kindness Challenge [Loveable 036]

“Let’s admit it: we’re obsessed with winning. Just look around. Everything has become a competition. Our will-to-win is everywhere, and it’s not going anywhere. But what if we gave it something better to do? What if we all decided to compete at a game called kindness?”

In Episode 36 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about how to take our instinct for competition, which is usually divisive, and turn it on its head so it connects us in increasingly powerful and life-changing ways. This week’s episode is a dare, a dare to do away with all the conflicting and confusing goals you have in your relationships and to replace them all with one goal, one dare, one challenge that can simplify and beautify every relationship you have…

loveable podcast episode 36

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • We can see and hear our lost loved ones on video, but we cannot touch them. Let’s hold them now, while we can.
  • Grieving in advance diminishes our regret in hindsight.
  • Grief is more often a cycle than a straight line. It returns. That’s normal. No need to resist it.
  • Contemplating our mortality doesn’t end with fear of losing this life; it ends with fear of missing it.
  • As you practice kindness, you become whole, and you become love.
  • Kindness toward others begins with practicing kindness toward oneself.
  • Kindness doesn’t mean having no boundaries; it means setting those boundaries with tenderness toward self and others.
  • Kindness is the basic instinct of your true self.

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Week 34: Let’s Hold Each Other Like We’re Dying [Loveable 035]

“Sometimes, we fight so we don’t have to feel. Sometimes, we trade jeers so we don’t have to trade tears…and that’s a problem. Because the solutions to our most pressing concerns don’t lie within the heated exchange of our ideas; they lie at the bottom of our grief. If we don’t get better at grieving, we can’t get better at loving and living.”

In Episode 35 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about how attention to our mortality can radically reshape our reality, making us less reactive and more tender, bringing us peace, and expanding our sense of belonging to include all people…

loveable podcast episode 35

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Before we share our secrets with trusted others, we must first admit them to ourselves.
  • In places of true belonging, our people can help us to see the secrets we’ve been keeping, even from ourselves. If we let them.
  • Grieving our losses ahead of time gives us a chance to redeem them in advance by living a more intentional and loving life.
  • One natural result of contemplating our mortality is compassion.
  • Only by going through sorrow about our mortality do we exit our denial, anger, and fear and enter into peace. Sorrow is the doorway.
  • When we surrender to grief it becomes peace; when we resist it, it becomes depression.
  • The surest way to develop confidence in your courage is to grieve.
  • Our mortality is our most fundamental common ground, and awareness of it straightens out our priorities and expands our sense of belonging.

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