“Quit those frazzled attempts
to beat yourself into magnificence.”
TAMA J KIEVES
Now that we know It Ain’t (Just) What You Do,
It’s The Way That You Do It – a good question to ask is:
When are you at your best?
Today we’re going to examine the conditions that support you being the best version of you, the conditions that will help you to create your best work, live your best life and make your best contribution to humanity.
We’re going to spend some time getting to know your Best Self.
Then we’ll examine what you need to change or do in order to spend more time living as that optimum version of you.
Your Best Self Benefits
We all have many different aspects to our personalities.
And we all have fluctuations in our energy, emotion, moods and mindsets.
Sometimes, we are high on life; energised, exuberant, joyous and spontaneously loving.
And others times… that fabulous version of us seems like a completely different person.
Living as we do in a world of other humans and external influences, we might not always have control over the elements that affect us.
But sometimes… we do.
Sometimes, we do have control over our external conditions – and possibly more often than we currently believe.
And in our mission to align our efforts with the world around us, to cocreate in partnership with the planet we inhabit, we can be more intentional about shaping these conditions.
Because not only do they influence our life and work, our results and experience, and our enjoyment of the journey – they can also dictate the version of us that we present to the world.
And the way we show up has ripple effects.
For example, in her book Thank & Grow Rich, Pam Grout tells the story of an anonymous benefactor who paid for the coffee for the person behind her in a coffee-house queue – a simple act of kindness that sparked a ripple effect of Paying It Forward which lasted for over four and a half hours!
Pam says, “Four and a half hours of unbridled generosity. This is no small thing. One act of generosity, one germ of love, of hope, of optimism, can multiply and become a huge force for love.”
Can you imagine all the hearts that were touched but that one act of kindness?
All the smiles generated, the delight sparked, the days uplifted?
When one person is feeling good about life and inspired to be generous and delight their fellow humans, it can change the course of the day for all the people touched by that kindness, which can lead to even more ripple effects that continue to uplift and inspire many, many more people, far removed from the initial instigator.
Such is the power of being our best selves.
And as we’ll discover later on, there is a role for karma in Your Creative Dharma.
Remember the Lucky You exercise from the Prep Work? This was a foundational game for this idea.
Because this kind of spontaneous generosity and benevolence – a result of being aligned with the best sides of our nature – is both a lovely side effect of finding our place in the world, and also a strategy for creating it.
Imagine if everyone took steps to do all they could to design their life so that they lived as their optimum self for much of the time.
Imagine that world!
Well, we can’t force everyone else to cultivate their better nature, but we can study and tend to the conditions we need to support our Best Self.
Part of our vision for Your Creative Dharma includes being intentional about our impact in the wider world, and what we can do about it.
Giving some attention to the conditions that help us be at our best more of the time is one way we can make our small-but-valuable contribution and serve the wider world.
So, now we know the power and benefits of doing this work, let’s explore the particular conditions that help you to thrive and live more often as your Best Self…
Conditions To Thrive : Part 1
Identifying your Best Self conditions.
There are two parts to the process of cultivating your Best Self conditions.
The first step is to identify what these conditions are – the scenarios, places, people, habits, structures, beliefs and energy etc… that support the highest vision you hold for yourself.
We’ve been doing this already with our favourite question – What’s working for me?
But now we can add another level to this enquiry: What’s working for my Best Self?
This process is not a one-off exercise, it’s an ongoing study and intention to be aware.
The more we ask this question, the more we’ll peel back the layers of life’s busyness to uncover when we are naturally creative, generous, compassionate, energised, inspired and loving.
We’ll notice more and more which conditions stress and compromise our patience or energy, and which situations, places or events uplift our spirits and inspire us to be our best.
In our quest to craft Your Creative Dharma, seeking clues to this puzzle has multiple benefits – it will help you upgrade and improve the quality and enjoyment of your life experience (joy and expression), and it will also guide you in offering your optimum contribution to the world (purpose and success).
And we can harness these benefits simply by asking the questions: When am I at my best? And, Why?
Simply setting the intention can begin this process, and the more attention we give it, the more it will naturally occur to us to both seek and find more clues.
You can also deepen this enquiry with more specific questions, particularly ones that support your vision for Your Creative Dhama.
When am I my most creative?
When do I best express myself?
When do I feel the most successful?
When do I enjoy the most meaning and sense of purpose?
When do I experience the most joy?
When do I feel most inspired?
What creative pursuits make me feel alive and in love with life?
What aspects of my work leave me feeling lit up and energised?
When do I feel I am living in my Creative Dharma sweet-spot?
Hopefully during this journey you are noticing new levels of expression, success, purpose and joy – we’ve done much work in being alert to these life upgrades.
And now we can add this new level of focus: what are the conditions that support these increases?
The answers to those questions will not only form the blueprint for Your Creative Dharma, they will also help you enjoy and experience the confidence of knowing what you need to thrive, to live creatively and well, and to make the difference you are here to make.
This a powerful, generous and fulfilling way to live your life.
This is intentional living, cocreating your optimum life experience for the good of yourself and the world, and it’s a powerful, generous and joy-generating pursuit.
So, can you set the intention to identify what you need to be your Best Self?
Can you begin to seek the clues for thriving creatively and living well?
Can you be alert to the times when you are excelling at life, and being the optimum version of you?
This is not about being perfect all the time, or setting up achievable goals – this is just about shifting the balance of which version of yourself you live and express the most.
“The central element in nurturing our creativity
lies in nurturing ourselves.”
Conditions To Thrive : Part 2
Cultivating your Best Self conditions
Once you begin to notice which conditions support your Best Self, the next step in enjoying more of that fabulous version of you is to get intentional and proactive about cultivating those conditions.
For example, if you discover that you’re a much nicer person when you’ve had enough sleep, your task would be to prioritise quality sleep.
Or if you learn that you are naturally more generous when you have allowed yourself to receive something you love, your challenge would be to do more of that!
Perhaps you notice that you’re more patient and kind when you aren’t rushing or overwhelmed, in which case your mission would be to find ways to simplify your life.
Or if you realise that daily quiet time or meditation helps you stay calmer during life’s challenges, a next step could be to fully commit to including time for this practice in your day.
Over time, you’ll come to know the lifestyle, habits and commitments that impact how you show up in the world.
It’s a little like taking care of an infant.
To care for a baby, you’d look for what calms them, what soothes them, what overstimulates them, what tires them out and what delights them.
And when you know what they love, what they need to thrive – you’d take steps to provide more of that.
Obviously we do this for our children because they can’t do it for themselves, but just because we are independent grownups, that doesn’t mean we no longer have particular needs and preferences.
And when we take measures to meet our needs, to create the conditions we need to thrive as healthy, happy, creative and generous humans – everyone wins.
We enjoy life more, we are nicer to be around, we’re more creative and inspired, and we contribute more effectively to our community and our planet.
Doing what supports your Best Self is a gift to yourself and a gift to others, and it is a powerful ingredient of Your Creative Dharma.
And as another bonus side-effect, showing up in the world more competently and generously will naturally boost your self-image and self-esteem.
These effects will serve you well on the journey to crafting your beautiful career vision.
Confidence and good karma are a powerful combination that will accelerate your progress and increase your joy along the way.
And it all begins with paying attention to what you need to thrive…
“The world needs you at your best.”
Again, this idea is more of an ongoing intention than a one-off experiment.
But for today’s homework, can you give some thought to how you might ask this question more frequently?
Aide memoirs can be helpful here, so can you find an item or image that represents you at your best?
Can you find or create a visual reminder?
Maybe you could find a picture of yourself when you felt that Best Self feeling, and frame it an keep it somewhere prominent.
Perhaps you could add a Best Self review into your end-of-the-day routine, looking for the moments of your day when you were naturally creative, patient, happy, kind or successful.
With what we know about attention and focus, you can rest assured that you will naturally begin to notice more of these times the more you look for them.
But to kick-start that Best Self radar, what can you do to begin your enquiry?
And what inspired steps can you take to include more of your Best Self Conditions into your life?
Over to you.
Enjoy exploring and cultivating what works for your Best Self.
(Not a bad homework project!)
And I’ll be back in a couple of days
with one final exercise for this week’s focus…