Imagine a woman who has a powerful gift to give to the world, a song to sing that will lift others up … but she only lets herself give that gift when the sun is shining and she’s happy and the moon is in perfect alignment with Jupiter.
The world would be robbed of her song. Her narrow range of when she’s willing to offer her gift would be a devastating loss to those she serves.
Imagine a man who serves everyone around him deeply, so powerfully that they are all filled with their own sense of purpose. But he only does this when he is in the right mood, when he’s not distracted by online articles, when he’s not tired or lonely, when he’s not criticized by those around him and when his house and office are perfectly clean.
Those he fills with a sense of their own purpose would be less filled. Those he gives his love to would be deprived, because he has such a narrow range of when he’s willing to push himself to offer his gift to others.
This is how most of us live our lives. Shrinking from the challenge of focusing on our purpose-filled work, because we’re tired or sad or anxious or stressed, because we’re allowing ourselves to be distracted and pulled in thousands of directions.
This is our failing, and it’s our opportunity for growth.
When you are “not feeling it,” and are procrastinating on focusing on your purpose … this is a time to notice how you feel, notice that you’re shrinking away because you aren’t in the perfect mood … and then expand yourself.
You expand by:
This is your challenge, in every moment. Expand your range by not needing conditions to be perfect. Not needing everything to be in order. Not needing to have all your messages responded to, all your inboxes and social media checked, all your articles read, all your crumbs swept up, before you dive into your purpose.
Expand your range by not allowing yourself to shrink. It’s like putting yourself in arctic conditions, in desert conditions, and practicing your art despite the unhappiness.
In fact, you use the unhappiness and chaos to offer your gift. You take that stress and pain, and you turn it into love. That brilliance is a part of your gift.
Let’s look at some specific practices for expanding your range of conditions so that you are no longer robbing the world of what you have to offer.
Once a day (to start with), create a space for practicing. Set yourself some purpose-filled work to do. Then try these practices:
Repeat these practices every day. See your range grow. See your gift grow out into the world, unhindered by life’s impediments. Sing your song powerfully and courageously, lifting up every soul around you. Then bow in gratitude to your practice.
Originally published at zenhabits.net