Do you know how you want to feel most of the time?
Or, the first question should be: Do you know how you do feel most of the time right now?
So take a moment, clear your mind and answer this question: how do you feel most of the time?
Now ask yourself – based on whatever answer you gave, is that how you would like to feel?
Even though this seems obvious, in the past few years, I’ve realized I’m the one who gets to decide how I feel so I can be intentional about the feelings I want.
Isn’t that crazy? I was going through life assuming my feelings were just happening directly to me -that feelings just happened as a result of circumstances and that’s just how it was.. So hopefully there were good circumstances so I’d have good feelings (but it only occasionally worked out that way).
Now that I’m living a more intentional, aware life, I know that I have a choice about how I will feel (or try to feel) most of the time, and through lots of mind-wandering, and writing, and thinking, and noticing, I’ve decided on 3 main feelings I want to feel.
Right now, I’m drawn to these 3 emotions but I’m figuring out how I can remind myself of these feelings during my day-to-day.
These feelings are Engaged, Inspired, Delighted.
The definition of engaged is busy or occupied -or having an agreement to marry. But, that’s not the definition I’m talking about. The Merriam Webster definition goes on to offer that engaged is greatly interested or committed. This is getting a little closer to my meaning.
Engaged to me, means I’m in a flow state. It’s when I lose myself in whatever I’m doing, or thinking about, or talking about, or creating. This can be by myself, or it can be with other people. So, yes, I guess “greatly interested or committed” does apply to how I want to feel.
I notice myself feeling engaged when I’m by myself when I’m writing or working on a creative project. I also remember feeling engaged back during my corporate work life when I was working alone on a project that involved organizing and correlating lots of data and information in a spreadsheet – I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.. But give me just the right spreadsheet with just the right amount of data and a few super helpful formulas and I could be engaged for hours and forget to go to lunch! I love the idea of unlocking the secrets behind all the data – like conversion rates or seeing a trend month over month. It’s a little nerdy I know- but what a feeling of engagement to figure that all out and see a pattern emerge or be able to make predictions based on prior months.
Engagement with other people for me – means – that I love engaged conversations – when we’re hanging on each others’ words and riffing off of each other’s statements.
Interrupting is not changing the course of the conversation or redirecting, it’s adding to what the other person is saying and deepening the meaning and understanding.
It’s when you notice the time and you’ve been talking for 40 minutes and it feels like you just started. There’s a buzz and an energy and both people feel it – and want more of it. I love those conversations. I’ve noticed – for me- those are usually one-on-one conversations – but I’m not ruling out talking with more than 2 people – those just don’t usually seem to be as engaging for me.
What about you? Can you think back to a time when you were completely engaged in something? Where once you finished, you didn’t feel drained- you actually felt refreshed (and maybe accomplished, or fulfilled?) Think about why you felt that way.
The next feeling I want to try to cultivate more in my life is Inspired. This definition actually surprised me a little when I looked it up, but it makes complete sense: “of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse.” that’s the definition of the adjective. The definition of the verb is also so interesting: to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”
It’s so interesting that both of those definitions include the word “creative” (which I really like) but prior to looking it up, I don’t think I was consciously equating inspiration with creativity – but maybe I’ll incorporate that now as I think more about it.
What about you?
When you hear the word Inspired- what does it mean to you?
Do you think it implies an external source? Until I read the definition, I hadn’t really considered inspired meaning motivated externally. and I guess that’s true, but I don’t think it has to be exclusively true. I like to be inspired by my own ideas and my own realizations. I think I inspire myself with my own thoughts and daydreams.
You may know that I follow self-coaching, which means that I believe my feelings are caused by my thoughts (not external circumstances) so I really believe the only way I’ll ever feel inspired is when I have a thought that generates that inspired feeling.
Inspired, to me, means a spark of motivation. It’s when I get excited about something. I notice my rate of speech increases. I think of a million questions I want to know the answer to. I think of metaphors that explain the idea or further demonstrate the topic.
Inspired in a problem-solving or brainstorming situation is when my “eyes are bigger than my stomach” so to speak and my ideas come so quickly and the faster they come the more detailed they get. I sometimes scare myself off a little with the intricacies of my ideas, I tend to get too detailed, too fast – so maybe that’s a built in decelerator for me when I’m feeling super inspired.
Inspired is like unlocking a portal to see so many possibilities with no obstacles and feeling like everything is do able and everything would be quick and easy, or if not, at least it would be rewarding.
I’ve gotten inspired about party planning and business launches. I get inspired when I’m teaching someone a skill and notice that they’re getting it- as soon as I see the first glimmer of understanding or connection, then I’m in a rush to show them all the applications and add on all the complexities.
Inspiration can be like a wave for me.. Maybe lots of waves or swells are all around me and pass me by, but for some reason, something catches my attention, or interest or imagination and suddenly I’m inspired.. And I’m riding the wave and it just propels me forward with so much momentum – and it feels natural and effortless and there’s no resistance at all.
As I’m saying this – I’m also noticing a connection between engaged and inspired – like they’re both about effortless flow .
What inspires you? When do you notice yourself riding a wave of inspiration?
The 3rd feeling I’m trying to cultivate for myself is delighted.
The definition of delighted is feeling or showing great pleasure. Apparently, the verb, to delight, comes from the Latin verb “to charm” – I like that a lot! I’m charmed by that word origin, or delighted, you could say!
I know I’m delighted when I smile and laugh out loud. It doesn’t have to be a loud, guttural guffaw. Even when I’m reading something on my phone in bed, or if I’m listening to a podcast and start lightly laughing alone in my car, that means I’m delighted. It’s when I can’t stop looking at something (like a picture of a goat wearing a sweatband for a halloween themed goat yoga session).
Color combinations delight me. Fonts delight me. Clever expressions and lyrics delight me. Word origins delight me. quick-witted inside jokes delight me. I am delighted by synchronicities. I love pretty clothes, pretty shoes and jewelry that all works together. I’m delighted by shiny things in unexpected places- like a chandelier in the bathroom.
Sometimes I’m delighted by noticing delight in other people. Like making someone else laugh when they least expected or seeing someone totally enjoying something or getting really genuinely excited about something.
What delights you? What do you catch yourself laughing out loud at? Or what do you notice your eyes travelling back to over and over again, even though you’ve already looked at it?
It’s so interesting to think about how these 3 emotions came to me as a triad.
Maybe it started when I asked myself what I wanted for myself, for my life.
And the answer was that my intentions are for “it/life/whatever” to be easy, to learn and to feel engaged.
So when I thought about how things are easy for me, or when and how I learn and how I get engaged in things, I realized the feelings I want to feel are Engaged, Inspired and Delighted. Then I thought, if those feelings are the results I want, what do I need to do (and focus on and think) to generate those feelings?
I had been thinking about and playing around with how to use these desired feelings for myself for about a year and half when I read Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Book and in it she mentions her 3 desired feelings are peace, love and excitement. And she even came up with specific thoughts (or maybe mantras) to think to create those feelings for herself.
I haven’t come up with those specific thoughts for myself yet, but I may in the future,
for now, I try to just notice the presence or absence of these feelings.
I notice when I have been feeling these emotions and I try to backtrack to what the specific thoughts were, and then use those thoughts as clues to what I can practice thinking.
How do I want to use these feelings? I want to catch myself when I’m on the “slippery slope.”
Do you know what I mean when I say “slippery slope?” maybe a better description of it is the borderline to a downward spiral.
This is a little tangent away from this episode’s topic- but it’s so interesting. I have this belief that I sometimes create (or fall into) a downward spiral and that’s when “the mind in me” not my “inner voice” takes over – that’s when I’m in fear, scarcity and doom mode. I worry. I stress. I try to tamp down my negative emotions. I resist feeling my feelings and facing my thoughts. I probably try to mask what’s going on with me by binging on sugar, or alcohol, or zoning out in a novel or a TV show- or sometimes I just go to bed.
Luckily, I don’t have these episodes too often any more – maybe I just have frequent mini versions of those episodes, but I have had the belief that there’s a slippery slope at the entrance to this downward spiral and some activities will cause me to start slipping right down. So a slippery slope activity would be, for example, to have a 2nd glass of wine, or eating candy, or watching a silly sitcom.
By the way, on the topic of my belief about the slippery slope- I was getting coached on this topic and my coach pointed out to me that my belief in the existence (and power) of the slippery slope was just a thought- that wasn’t necessarily true. And I have to say, that surprised me! I had never considered that the slippery slope didn’t actually exist, that it was just something I had made up and was choosing to keep believing and fearing.
This is something I’m still working on in my own life. Obviously I still believe in it because I’m describing it to you as if it’s a real thing- but, I learned from my coach, it doesn’t have to be.. And if that belief is not getting me the results I want – I can choose to drop it – Wow! Ok, more on that later- if you want to hear more about it – but for now, let’s go back to my desired feelings of Engaged, Inspired, and Delighted.
So, If I do catch myself tiptoeing towards my slippery slope I can ask myself if what I’m doing is making me feel Engaged, Inspired, or Delighted? If not, what could I do instead?
For example, if I sit down on my bed in the middle of the day and start streaming one episode of a show that I’ve watched before, just to relax, or just to take a break from something that’s bugging me, then at the end of the show, I just advance to the next episode..hopefully, I can catch myself and ask- is this engaging, is this inspiring, is this delighting me right now? It probably isn’t. It’s probably just feels familiar, and comforting.
And maybe that redirect will pull me right out. Because I’ve already decided I’d rather feel Engaged, Inspired, and Delighted than anything else.
Here are some things I can do (or have done) to feel these 3 feelings:
To feel Engaged – I can find a “rabbit hole” of something new I want to learn about – I love YouTube for this because I’ll start with a question and I’ll find a video that will answer that question- but the video will introduce me to other vocabulary or another element of the topic that I didn’t know about, so I’ll search for that one, then I’ll learn something else- or YouTube will suggest an additional video for me to watch, or I’ll like the presenter, so I’ll look to see what other videos they have- you get the idea.
I also just get started on a project to start to feel engaged – like producing content for this podcast. When I first decided to go for it, I started writing all the possible topics on 3×5 cards, then I started to arrange them in an order that made sense, then I decided to match the topics to the months of 2020, and then noticed that I had some weeks without topics, so I kept thinking about what I would want to write and talk about .. and and and.. 4 hours later I was excited and motivated and felt so engaged with what I had been working on and I had forgotten to eat and didn’t notice it had gotten dark.
What do I do to feel Inspired? – when I learn something new and notice the possibility and my mind starts to see connections I get inspired – so I guess the YouTube example that I just mentioned applies here too. I also love going to in-person trainings and conferences.
I actually also really like going to tour model homes – not only do I get inspired by seeing the furniture and the room layouts and the accessories, I get inspired by the “story” of who would live there, or what they would do in that kitchen, or what kind of parties could happen on this patio.. Or how this separate master suite would be perfect for an Air BnB or an exchange student.
Obviously I sometimes get inspired for things that have nothing to do with my personal life – I don’t think I would ever have an AirBnB or an exchange student in my house, and I’m not planning to buy a new home – but I love getting that inspired feeling even if I don’t intend to take any action on it.
To feel Delighted sometimes I re-read what I’ve written in my past Morning Pages. Sometimes I just laugh at myself (not in a mean way, so maybe it’s better to say I laugh with myself),
like one day I flipped back to see what I had written on a Monday a few weeks prior and the writing started out with something like “Monday, another week of work, blah” which I found so funny!
It was obviously so genuine and authentic to how I was feeling that Monday morning – but seeing it later, way out of context just made me laugh.
I also love looking at pretty interior design and organization websites like Jenny Komenda’s Interior Design site or Jen Jone’s I heart organizing site. Those sites actually delight me, inspire me and suck me in to deep engagement!
Sometimes, when I daydream I hit all 3 of these. Sometimes, when I’m creating art – I’m getting them all at once.
So what do you think? Do you want to borrow these 3 desired feelings.. Or maybe come up with a few of your own.
How do you want to feel most of the time.. What do you think you would need to think to generate those feelings?
I’m curious to hear what you come up with!