As I go about my days, I have an endless stream of ideas flowing through my mind that I feel inspired to talk about and share. Unless I’m in a position to do something about it, most of them never make it to paper (or the virtual world) and continue on downriver, maybe never to be seen again.
But some of them are persistent and keep showing up.
Enjoying the process is one of the persistent ones I’d like to talk about today.
Rewind 16 years or so…
It was my first year at college which was dedicated to core courses – fulfilling basic requirements and exploring the possible directions my education would take over the next few years.
I did something differently than I had done in high school, and it turned out to be a game changer for me.
In high school, I followed the well intended advice of teachers and advisors and took as many academic classes as I could squeeze into my 4 years. (You couldn’t pay me to relive those years, btw!) But for college, I decided that if I was going to commit more of my youth and lots of dollars attaining a bachelor’s degree, it was going to be doing something I loved.
So I spent my first months exploring all different areas and you know what I learned about myself? I learned that I love making art.
I had finally given myself permission to uncover what it was that I enjoyed instead of doing what I thought I ‘should’ do…and it was glorious!
Not only was I learning, but I was also expressing my creativity (which we all have by the way) and if felt amazing.
My last semester was intense studio time and prepping for my BFA show where I would present a collection of my work to culminate my college career.
I imagine for most, having their work seen and judged would be nerve wracking but not for me – or at least I don’t remember it that way. My challenge was having to talk about my finished pieces hanging on walls and sitting on pedestals.
Giving them names and a message to convey felt forced and inauthentic.
You see for me, it was all about process. I loved sitting each day for meditation where in between the pockets of silence came the ideas and inspiration for endless hours in the studio.
I loved my hands on the clay. I loved the give and take between me and the elements as a piece took shape.
I loved that first peak inside the kiln after a firing…it was like Christmas morning.
I loved stepping out of my ego and creating from my soul. I loved breathing life into an inanimate object.
If my work told a story to the viewer, wonderful! But who was I to tell the viewer what they should see?
(For the record, I have no qualms with artist who tell the viewer what they are seeing or attempt to elicit a specific response…that just wasn’t a natural part of my creative experience.)
So what did I do?
I talked about the process because that’s what I knew. And it all worked out just fine.
Since then there have been many times in my life that I have chosen joy over ‘should’ and every time it was a win.
Life is about the process of living, not a race to the day our body dies, so why should any part of it be about an end goal?
For example, so many of us make a new year’s resolution to loose weight. And sadly, most of us are unsuccessful. You know why? Because we can become too focused on counting calories and going hungry and exercising until we collapse, just to change a number on the scale.
There is no joy in this for us!
And that number on the scale can only change so fast and the deprivation and number crunching and hours on the treadmill is exhausting and eventually we give up and go back to old habits.
This is not because we didn’t try our best, but because we were hell bent on being tough and suffering through to get what we want instead of choosing to enjoy the process and learn to treat our body lovingly with nourishing food and play.
Another example is when we get bogged down and overwhelmed by our to-do lists. We would rather hit the snooze button and suffer through that horrible beeping alarm again and again, than to wake up, get out of bed, and begin our day.
But when we learn to enjoy doing the item on our list instead of simply looking forward to checking it off, we are learning to enjoy our life.
When we dig deep and realize what fills us up, and give ourselves permission to prioritize more of that, we enjoy living life.
We learn, we grow, we share, and our experience expands.
Savoring this process of growing in happiness is the purpose of life!
I’ve been reading “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert and in it she shares an insightful quote form Marcus Aurelius:
“…be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.”
Even 2,000 years ago people understood that life is about enjoying the moments!
It is my hope for you that you choose to savor the process and enjoy the moments of this precious life of yours.
You can begin this practice today.
Celebrate your wins – both big and small – and the joy you experience in life will skyrocket beyond the greatest joy you can imagine.
And if you ever need someone to celebrate with, I’m always here to share in your joy.