Have you ever thought about how you want to feel in life?
I don’t mean generally. I mean—have you written down a few core feelings that you need to have in your life to feel like you’re living life meaningfully? (For more details, see “The Desire Map” by Danielle LaPorte.)
I have. After sitting down and staring at a sheet of paper for several days, agonizing over choosing just five feelings, these are what I chose:
Like a breath of fresh air.
Great! Got my core desired feelings. When I wrote them down, I believed in them—strongly. Still do, in fact. These five feelings are exactly how I want to feel. Always.
But . . . how much have I let these five feelings govern my goals in life since I wrote them down? To be honest, I’ve forgotten about them. A lot. Sometimes I’ll remember and say the words under my breath and feel magical, but then five minutes later I’ll be eating my Skittles and sitting on a couch for five hours watching The Office and wasting life away again. So, I ask you this, in solidarity: how often do our values match up with our efforts? How much does what we believe honestly govern our actions? For some things, there’s an unequivocal connection. For me, it’s believing that alcohol is bad for me and so therefore not drinking it. But for other things, like believing in kindness towards everyone and then catching myself getting angry at a bad driver in my car . . . we human beings are imperfect.
In my profession as a yoga teacher, I spend a lot of time discussing deep subjects with people. I am a naturally open person and so have a lot of time and ears to listen to people’s problems and insecurities—and through listening, I’ve learned a lot. We’re imperfect beings. Just because I keep having to remind myself of my core desired feelings doesn’t make me a failure. Simply feeling the emotion of anger does not make me a bad person. And sitting on the couch doesn’t make me lazy, it just reminds me that I need to switch up my routine and not cave into the vegetation of the TV. The same goes for you as it does for me—don’t stress yourself out over your imperfections. Realize when something needs to change and don’t feel guilty or shameful—just find a way to change what you’re doing into something positive. I highly suggest figuring out three to five core desired feelings for yourself, entirely for yourself—and giving yourself reminders to keep thinking about them.
Seriously. Even having forgotten them, when I remember I come back to the magic of knowing exactly how I want to feel in my life. And striving for those feelings—even when I take a more convoluted route than originally planned—gives me an unprecedented feelings of contentment. Now that I know what I want in more concrete terms, those feelings are closer to me than they were before, swirling in the expanse of “general feelings and emotions.” Now that I’ve separated them out and defined them and am actively chasing them, I find contentment in the knowledge that these feelings resound within my soul. These feelings are what I need. And, knowing, that, no matter how imperfect I am I can still feel like I’m striving for wholeness. Not perfection, but balance.
What are your core desired feelings? Take time to think about it, and then get out a sheet of paper. Write down a bunch of feelings you think you might want (cover the sheet if you can!) and then see how many synonyms there are. Circle the ten words that feel the most resonance within you. From there, choose five. Write those five down on a new sheet of paper, look up more synonyms to each of the words, and work all of that around in your brain until you finally come up with three to five words (and yes, every now and then it’ll be a small phrase instead of one word to catch the essence of what you mean) that speak to your soul. Write those down on another sheet of paper. Memorize them. These are your core desired feelings—what you want to feel always. And then feel free to share one of those words with us!