That’s the name of the book sitting on my desk. It’s a reminder of who I used to be. The moment in time when I needed to buy a book on how to do something as basic as…live. But the truth is that you can’t learn how to live from a book. Or even this article.
You learn to live by recreating yourself.
I had to learn this myself. When I couldn’t find the answers in the book that I bought. I furiously flipped page after page, wanting the words to reveal life’s secrets (I seriously thought there was some sort of instruction manual for life). I’d read each word, seeking something just out of my line of sight. I’d squint to catch a glimpse of meaning somewhere inside the pages. Something to make me feel like the life I was living made…some sort of sense.
Only the answers weren’t on the page.
So I shopped my way through racks of clothes in stores, trying to center myself through sales. I became a shopaholic, buying things I didn’t necessarily need. I had a steady paycheck. And employee health insurance. But no amount of insurance ensured me that I was actually living my life.
And then it happened. Not just once. But twice.
I went from having everything. To having nothing. Not even basic health insurance. I started to shed the layers of everything I knew to be true. That’s when I learned how to live. After I was gut-punched. While being shaken to the core.
Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.
I was forced to shift my attitude when I had nothing. I stepped into the unknown. And the unknown sparked a fire in me.
Maybe you’re in this process too. Maybe you’re recreating your life – one where you can live life on your own terms. You’re looking for insights on how to live. Or how to not need a book on “how to live.”
So here are my cliff notes on how to live:
1. Tell stories
The “How to Live” book didn’t list ways to live. It didn’t say “watch a sunset,” “spend time with family” or “get a dog.” Instead, it walks you through other people’s stories. People with jokes. Hearts. History. Because history can teach you a lot – when you find parts of yourself in other people’s stories. Sharing each other’s stories helps us find our own. Because, as Ram Daas says: “We’re all just trying to walk each other home.”
2. Slow it down
This new, extraordinary fast-paced vibration of the universe. Do you feel it too? It’s exhilarating. And you’re probably adjusting to the new frequency. You may feel awakened with insane bursts of creativity. You’re energized, and you want to do more, more, more! And it seems like a paradox…but the best way to keep the momentum going…isn’t to speed up. It’s to slow down. When you say no to things that no longer feed your soul, you start to embrace the synchronicity of life that starts to happen.
3. Cultivate patience
I was forced to learn how to cultivate something that I sucked at: patience. I was terrible at patience. And sometimes still am.
Maybe you feel it too? The lack of patience in the world. The need for instant gratification. The immediacy of everything. The need to act on something right now. Just because you can with the click of a button.
I’m dizzy just typing about it.
But amidst this dizziness, we’re living. Learning. Growing. Exploring. Dusting ourselves off. Finding the grit to get ourselves through. One of the ways things that helped me cultivate more patience was to…
I read to live. To love. To relate. But mostly I read because…
“…when I read, I don’t really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.” – Bohumil Hrabal
5. A community
During a storytelling workshop I attended recently, one of the speakers shared a story about something that was said to her in Japan. In Japan, community means “the place where I am most myself.” How cool is that?
The paradox of my community was that I was physically alone…a lot. But surrounded by the magic of an online community. A community helped me connect to the place of aloneness. And it was here, in solitude, where I found the freedom to be most myself. The thing is, I was never lonely. Just alone. There’s a difference.
6. Connect to the fire in your belly.
Connecting to the fire changes the lens from which you see the world. When you connect to the fire, you can reframe your story with a different perspective. You can destroy your perceptions of your previous life. You stop letting your past define you. So that you can build something new.
“To destroy is always the first step in any creation.” e.e. cummings
Change means that you’re releasing judgment, and accepting your humanity. And that you’re doing something right. Change allows you to accept your experience, and raise the bar to the next level – so that you can evolve. Change is a catalyst for transformation. And learning through change allowsÂ you to find ways to loosen the grip of your reality, so that you can elevate your mind, to shift your perspective. But the paradox of change is that you still need to…
8. Go back to a beginner’s mind
“How to Live” has sat on my shelf for years. But I haven’t fully read it until recently. Because…surely I know how to live by now (my ego tells me). Surrendering to the beginner’s mind allows the ego to leave. This brings a new energy, a higher vibration, and more powerful choices into your life.
A beginner’s mind allow for deep, deep gratitude and appreciation for how far you’ve come. It inspires growth and expansion, so that you can have the strength to step into your deep truth – so that you can transform yourself, and in turn, your future.