A statement a friend made in a letter has been playing in my head. We have been writing to each other about our creative work. We are both shifting and she reminded me that to do so, it meant she had not just strive to create differently, but read differently as well.
She had more poetic words on the subject and a deeper understanding of what it takes us to evolve than I am conveying, I know. But I’ve re-read her letter a dozen times and reminder that the choice to actively grow and evolve ourselves in some way keeps coming back to me.
If you get too closed to new ways of living as a possibility, then your life will shrink and you will become more and more brittle.
What my dear friend reminded me of, is that in order to change anything, we may need to seek new voices of wisdom.
That’s part of what she meant by ‘reading differently.’
So, how we do we practically do that?
If we typically read only the most recent releases, maybe we need to turn to ancient texts that may open our minds and hearts. Instead of our usual diet of fiction, we should dabble in poetry or memoirs. Conversely, if the bulk of our regular reading is diet books and the hottest new self-help titles, a good dose of fiction might be in order.
That applies to our digital worlds as well. Maybe you need to stop reading Facebook updates and seek thoughtful essays in personal blogs. Reading differently means shifting what we take into our minds because what we read affects how we think and how we feel about ourselves.
If you want to change your life, darling, seek new voices so that you can open yourself up to reading differently.
By the way, don’t rule out fiction. Research from Ohio State University has shown that when you fictional characters can influence you. In the study, readers adopted the beliefs, feelings and responses of the characters. This means well written fiction with courageous or compassionate characters can inspire you to be brave, transform your thinking, how you see yourself and the world.
Don’t just go through the motions of seeking new ways to feed your mind. Be open to learning new things and new ways.
Each day presents an opportunity to grow your brain, expand your horizons and change your perspective.
But seeking new voices of wisdom isn’t all. I hate to break it to you darling: you are also going to have to get out of your comfort zone. This may seem counter to much of what I tout as a way to create a life you love, but stick with me for a bit.
I believe that routines are the most efficient way to manage your energy and ensure that tasks get done. I stand strong to the fact that solid routines lead to good habits that will help you more enjoy your life.
However, if you want to live your life in a different way, then your routines will have to change. Learning new routines and allowing them to mature into new habits doesn’t happen overnight.
And sugarplum, I am a firm believer that always living on the edge makes us cranky and edgy. That we need to settle into periods of comfort to get the blessings our life already offers us.
Yet, if you are seeking to change something, you’ll have to get uncomfortable.
There is a pendulum-like swing in the way the comfort plays out in our lives.
We need to step outside our comfort zone to learn a new skill, shift our way of thinking, or change something. But then? The pendulum has to swing back, allowing that new stuff to become our new normal, creating a comfort zone that is just as snuggly as the one we had before, but maybe a little broader in scope, or with a slightly different kind of décor.
That also means we need to pay attention to the small things the bring us comfort: snuggling on the couch, coffee with a girlfriend, fresh flowers in the kitchen, or a favorite sweater to toss across our shoulders on chilly days.
And that brings up the other piece of this, my darling. If you want any area of your life to be different, you are going to have to do the work. You are going to have to invest in yourself, be it your time, your money or your attention.
What I mean is, in addition to reading great blog posts, maybe you need to go ahead and invest in program that the coach you admire has been offering. Instead of just reading that mind provoking book, maybe you need to get your journal out and actually do the exercises.
A healthier body may require cooking more and breaking a sweat. A richer creative life may demand experimenting with your craft. Thinking about how we want our life to be different – yes, even our creative life – doesn’t make it happen. Talking about the changes we want to make isn’t enough.
To paraphrase Elvis, a little less talk and a lot more action!
No matter what it is, things cannot change if we do not take some action. Yes, action requires energy and sweat and sometimes tears, but you are worth it.
Your life can be different than it is today if you so desire it to be.
Read differently. Seek new voices of wisdom. Shift your routines. Get out of your comfort zone. Pay attention to small comforts. Do the work.
Just as it’s true that ‘we are what we eat,’ it’s also true that we are what we read.