“I really want a partner that makes me feel gaga!” my friend John said to me the other day as we were taking a blustery walk along the trail near my house. After some clarification on what ‘gaga’ meant to him (head-over-heals, in love, joyous) our conversation got really interesting. What we noted together was that John was interested in this ideal partner (an external resource) who would make him feel a certain way inside (internal state). I asked John if it would be possible to come from a more expansive view around this gaga feeling. I mean why limit ourselves to such a restrictive experience (John had been dating but wasn’t getting the gaga feeling). I decided to propose a wild idea - “John, what if we could feel gaga regardless of the external things/people in our lives? What if that feeling were available to us anytime? What if we don’t have to rely on getting something external to ourselves to create a state of being that we want?”
“Woah, woah, what do you mean?” John was intrigued.
Broken Model: Working from the Outside In. Get busy doing the things you think you need to do to get the stuff you think will make you feel good.
So many times we look to an external source to create an internal state. It goes something like this “If I just had that perfect partner or job or house or my kids would behave perfectly then I would be happy/satisfied/at peace.” And then we get really busy doing the things we think we need to do to get the stuff we think will make us feel good.
We call this working from the outside in and if you haven’t noticed it is an effortful place. Sure, there may be a temporary sense of accomplishment or excitement. We get a partner, the job, or even the dopamine hit from the social media likes and responses but the feelings don’t last. Then we go back to the same place we were before and start the cycle all over again chasing the magic carrot because surely this next thing/person will be it...
Have you been working from this model of always doing more in the external areas of your life in order to change the way you feel on the inside? I ask you to take an honest look - how has that been going? Does the bar just keep moving and you keep running on the wheel? I know it hasn’t been a very effective approach for me.
Here is a secret I will let you in on - we’ve been given the wrong formula. What actually works is approaching our lives from the inside out.
Effective Model: Working from the Inside Out. Create the internal states of being you desire and allow your actions to flow from that place
What could be different if we choose to cultivate that feeling within ourselves rather than relentlessly trying to find the perfect external stimulus (job, house, outfit, car, relationship, parents, children, presentation, etc.) to elicit it? Is it possible that we could create our own beautiful state of mind and everything else would originate from that place?
I pointed out to John that he had already referenced that gaga state early in our conversation when he spoke about snuggling with his dog or enjoying the stream of sunshine coming through his sun tunnel that morning. We call this practice savoring and it is one of my all-time favorites for changing the landscape of our minds. By regularly savoring we can actually start directing and designing our own internal state instead of trying to rely on unpredictable external things to bring us joy. I reminded John that what we regularly give repeated attention to will become more and more automatic as the neural pathways are created and reinforced over time.
Formula for Success: What we give repeated attention to over time will become our automatic state.
So let's learn how to use one of my favorite practices for building a beautiful mind.
It’s simple, it’s easy, you can tuck it in any time of day or night. Let me know how it goes as you start creating your beautiful mind.