Howdy, fellow ball growers! So glad you decided to join me today.
It’s been a little over 3 months since I launched A Brave Life, and I feel like a first-time mother with a 3-month-old baby.
There’s the responsibility, the exhaustion (I spend 15-20 hours per week on ABL-related stuff on top of my day jobs), the head-over-heels Love, the occasional realization that I don’t know what the heck I’m doing…and of course, the wild way in which my baby has inspired, challenged, and changed me.
But like a new mom who is sleep deprived, has been barfed on, and has cleaned countless pounds of poop…I’m growing as a person in the midst of all the madness.
Here are 4 life lessons I’ve learned so far:
1. The key to happiness is discipline.
We all have a few activities or special projects that must be done in order for us to feel sane, productive, healthy, and complete. And without discipline, these activities and projects never get done.
My special project is A Brave Life. Outside of this website I juggle three part-time jobs that equal out to a full work week. So in order for me to write two blog posts per week for ABL (plus any addition pieces for other websites and big projects), I have to wake up early 7 days a week to squeeze in an hour or two of writing before the rest of my day begins. I also have to spend my lunch hour connecting with other bloggers, an hour before bed responding to comments on my posts, and a few extra hours here and there for research and marketing.
All of this takes discipline.
But before my current routine was established, I was spending entire weekends on ABL stuff. It sucked. It was exhausting. And it prevented me from accomplishing other goals I had for my weekends, like keeping our house clean (Brian and I are terrible at this!), and cooking instead of ordering takeout (I’m worse than Brian).
People who aren’t disciplined think discipline is torture. People who are disciplined know it’s a bridge to happiness.
2. Find the nugget of wisdom behind every criticism.
In my time as a blogger people have shared dissenting opinions (which is totally fine), but on occasion have done so in an aggressive or rude way (a little less fine).
When this kind of thing happens in life, your primary job is not to defend yourself with rambling explanations, desperate justifications, or hostile words. Rather, your job is to:
- carefully examine the dissenting opinion to see if there is a nugget of truth or wisdom behind it.
- follow any legitimately good advice, and chuck the rest without taking their harsh tone personally.
- respond to your critic by acknowledging his or her concerns, thanking him/ her for the input, and (very calmly) clarifying any misunderstandings.
(PS. You need to do all of this in a succinct way, otherwise you’ll sound defensive and only perpetuate further quarreling.)
3. A thick skin and humility go hand-in-hand.
Whether you are a blogger, a celebrity, or a leader of any kind, your ideas and opinions are subject to judgment. I’ve learned that if you’re really on to something smart, 50% of people will support you, 25% will be ambivalent, and 25% will hate your guts (and make sure you know it, too).
The only way to survive overly harsh criticism is to have a thick skin. And the only way to have a thick skin is to be humble, not just overly confident.
The difference between the two is that the latter comes from ego and stubbornness, while true humility is knowing that you are an incredibly important and special person…but not more important or special than anyone else, including your critics.
Humility is true confidence. So when you have it, you can pursue your life’s mission without being overly affected by your haters.
Having a thick skin is not about building walls around you for protection — it’s about tearing walls down when you realize no one can harm the core of you.
4. Everything must match.
There’s a quote by Gandhi that goes “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
When I write a blog post that is a perfect reflection of my values, thoughts, and sense of humor, I have a kind of out-of-body experience where I get a glimpse of my worth, vulnerability, and power all at once.
It doesn’t happen because I’ve accomplished something great, or because the piece lacked flaws, or because the post went viral, or because readers left a lot of comments. It happens because in that particular piece of writing I’ve given birth to something truthful and pure. There is no ego there. There’s no interest in trying to impress others. There is only that magical moment when the creative person (whether a writer, musician, dancer, or painter) sees the harmony between what she feels on the inside, and what she has created or contributed to the world.
And when this happens for me– when everything matches — I feel unstoppable.
I feel I have received all that I need, and given all that I have.
I feel complete.