Art of Life/Donna Parker
Do What You Really Want To Do
“Find your own light.” - Buddha
How about we create a life filled with what makes us feel alive and see where we end up? In fact, the life we lead is largely a reflection of our decisions and values. If we consistently choose other people, things or situations over ourselves, our lives will reflect that.
As far back as I can remember, I have allowed my life to be shaped by external forces. On the outside, it appeared like I was just another carefree soul, living in the moment and going through life like a leaf on the wind.
At the beginning of this year, as I stood looking around and contemplating where I have ended up and still wanted to go, I suddenly — and surprisingly — decided that was all going to change. Before I knew it, I was acting on something that, until then, had been just a vague, albeit persistent idea floating around in the back of my mind, since I was a child. I was going to become an artist.
I knew it was what I wanted and I was pleased that for once I had actually stood on my own two feet and made a decision. In making such a big life choice, I will have to make a complete about-turn from my familiar and reliable strategy of avoidance and instead choose to stare life directly in the face.
My paralysis came from a long-held belief that I needed to be free from all trace of doubt before I could make any major decisions and move forward in life. But as I quickly came to see, if this was the case, then no one would ever do anything they really wanted to do.
As a function of the mind’s problem-solving mode, doubt is an incredibly useful tool that can alert us to impending danger, help us think more critically, and enable us to make better decisions. As we spend most our time in this problem-solving mode, though, this vulnerability-seeking mechanism can become chronically switched on and quickly become debilitating. Either way, the doubting mind is not you. It will tell you there will always be a better time. It will tell you that you will be able to see the future and know how things will turn out if only you consider things a bit longer. To see more clearly, I recommend that you do not suppress the doubt — that only stirs things up more. But nor should we passively accept it.
There will always be a reason to not do something. Instead of accepting the doubt, learn to doubt the doubt. And if there is fear, you are on the right track. You cannot have change, innovation, creativity, and originality — in other words, life — without insecurity, uncertainty, and fear. And so by embracing these fundamental states and changing how you see fear, you can begin to use them to your advantage and live a full life.
Learn to welcome your fear as a valuable and even desirable part of your experience. It is only by bringing fear, with all its demons, into the light that we can begin to unravel the excuses we have piled upon them — many of which we do not know are even there until we look.
“Never give up on something you really want. It’s difficult to wait, but worse to regret.”
How to figure out what you want to do. Sound a little scary yet liberating? Like you are going on an adventure you have dreamed of? Fantastic!
Let’s get started. It begins with creating your own rules. Yep, go ahead, get deep with yourself for a hot minute and figure out what is really important to you. Do not think about what society, your parents, or even your friends have told you is important.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What makes me feel free and most alive?
- How do I like to spend time with people I care about?
- What sparks my passion and revs up my enthusiasm? How could I spend hours (if not days) doing — and actually lose track of time?
- How would I ideally like to spend my week, days, and weekends?
- What would my ideal work place be? Who would I work with (if anyone)?
- What helps me feel relaxed and joyful?
- How do I most enjoy helping others?
Jot down your answers. Elaborate as much as you like, create more questions, dig deeper. Note whatever helps you gain more clarity about your joys in life.
“Do what you really want to do, in order to have what you really want.” - Margret Mead
And if you immediately think you can’t do it, are overcome by your poor track record, or just immediately zone out or want to run and hide, notice this as the doubting mind. Beat it at its own game and doubt it. And then ask yourself, one final question, what sort of life do you choose to lead: one of dissatisfaction, or one of comfort, adventure, fulfillment, and with the thrill of diving into the unknown?
My art opening was fantastic! I had fun, great attendance, and many sales. I am so glad I have followed my heart, after all this time.
Recently, in line at the store, a lady asked if I was Donna Parker, who wrote a column for Hues. We talked for a few minutes and before I left, I told her she had made my day. Sometimes just the small gift of gratitude can make a big difference. Thank you P. Diehl.