I paused to take note this morning as I listened to a podcast interview with Dr. Jon Mundy as he spoke about applying the principles of A Course in Miracles to everyday life (for those unfamiliar, ACIM is a metaphysical text that teaches us to break down old thought systems based on fear, lack, struggle, and separation; and accept a thought system based on love, abundance, ease, and oneness). Dr. Mundy shared that (in his experience) most people don’t come to the realization that there might be a better way for living life until they are in their 40s. He suggested that the years before are often spent hustling to meet outer expectations placed on us by our rational minds (and society).
What follows, then, is that we have followed too closely the path projected by our rational minds and failed to spend much time developing our spirit mind. Suddenly, there's a wave of people who realize something is missing. They seek to become emotionally fulfilled and to truly know themselves and are suddenly eager to do the work. When I heard this, something clicked for me. Am I just a decade ahead of my time? Is this why I’d been drawn to groups of more mature women in friendships? Why I’d found myself wanting different things than potential romantic partners, or having interests that didn’t always match those of my contemporaries? Perhaps I am ahead of my time. And, while it’s tempting to feel misunderstood or alone (I’ve totally been there), I’m actually quite happy to have a “head start” on finding this so-called better way for living life.
This does not mean I intend to give up on reaching for the things that thirty-somethings are pursuing. I’m simply choosing a different approach - an approach that says I can be wildly successful, attract abundance, have great friendships and romantic relationships, explore fulfilling hobbies, and live a life where radical self-acceptance, personal growth, and deep inner peace are all a reality.
I believe that we are entitled to all of these things. What’s more, we do not have to struggle, push, over-plan, or control. As I grow more and more certain of my purpose and let myself be guided in the right direction, I do find things come to me with ease. But to achieve this, I've found I'm doing life a little differently than I had imagined I would be at 32.
Here are five of the most impactful things I’m doing differently than I had imagined:
Putting my relationship with self first. While we'd all like to say we put ourselves first, this is actually a distant reality for most. You see, self-care and personal growth isn't just getting a mani/pedi or learning a new skill. It's learning to have a deep, healthy, loving, curious, and accepting relationship with yourself.
A trusted friend told me earlier this week, “At 32, I can’t tell you how far I was away from the person you already are.” Truly, this was one of the kindest things anyone could say to me. It’s been a tough decision to shift my priority from outer expectations to seemingly invisible inner experiences. I’ve had to put a lot of trust and faith in the idea that the outward world will align and flow naturally when things became aligned and in-flow inwardly (and by no coincidence, it has). Her acknowledgement of my seemingly “invisible” work was a perfect reminder that I’m on the right track.
Not obsessing over a plan. I have SO many goals and dreams. I used to have a detailed plan of what exactly it looked like and all of the things that had to be in place for me to achieve those goals and dreams. The problem is, our practical minds can’t conceive the miraculous ways things could unfold if we simply stopped trying to control and plan. Here’s something I read in ACIM recently that really resonated with me, “A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.”
Getting real about the “F” word. By this, I mean “forgiveness" (though I'm a fan of the other "F" word too). Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. Forgiving the past and trusting it holds no mistakes. Again, a passage from ACIM, “Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset?...All this forgiveness offers you, and more.”
Letting go of judgment, comparison, and specialness. We are no better nor worse than another. Despite different physical, mental, or material circumstances that seem to make us different, we are not. Yet, it's often the easier path to choose separateness over connection.
I have been hurt in the past when others have projected judgement or comparison on me. I have been hurt when I have placed judgement or comparison on myself. How must it feel, then, when I judge or compare myself to another? These practices are not kind, mature, or enlightened.
When we admire or make another “special,” let us remember that the light we see in them is simply a reflection of our own light. When we judge or condemn another, let us also remember that which we judge or criticize is a reflection of our own fears. One of my favorite reminders comes from Dr. Wayne Dyer, “See the light in others and treat them as if that is all you see.”
Embracing spirituality. When I was younger, talks of religion made me tremendously uncomfortable. It took me quite some time to be comfortable with the thought of being “spiritual” versus being “religious” (though I think that each serve important purposes for different people). After I realized they were two different things, I also had to get over fear of how people would perceive me if I said I was "spiritual."
As I embraced spirituality, I realized that I could have an experience of my own understanding; there was no "right" or "wrong" way to do it. This relationship and discovery have been the foundation of every ounce of growth you have read about above. I’ve spent countless hours reading, listening, learning, writing, praying, and meditating and searching for what resonates most with me. This journey has led to understand myself and the world around me in a completely different way than I’d known before. I cannot say enough about how strong my own spirit has grown. I know this is reflected in how I approach situations and relationships and has given me the ability to recover quickly from difficult situations. Most importantly, it has offered me the capacity to love more fully and live more freely and joyfully than I might have ever thought possible.
I’ll end, then, with another quote from Dr. Jon Mundy, who got me thinking about all of this in the first place, “Follow your heart as much as you can and let that be the direction you’re going in.”