For years I read a myriad of self-help books and sought enlightenment on everything from relationships to business, and parenting to procrastination. As a heartsick teen I found empathy and support from the book How to Survive the Loss of a Love. In my 20s I spent a few weekends immersed in the est training (don’t laugh). The Secret movie and related books taught me the law of attraction and the power of gratitude.
I’ve read books, attended workshops and watched webinars, presented by people who seemed to have their shit figured out. However, until recently I didn’t often discuss my interests unless it was with the person who had specifically pointed me in that direction.
Self-empowerment and the dogged pursuit of happiness was my little secret.
Who hasn’t been a little self-conscious when buying a radical diet book or listening to a podcast on love languages or seeking group consciousness in a drum circle? Self-help or self-improvement implies there’s something wrong or broken and we’re naturally reluctant to broadcast that.
This perspective shifted for me earlier this year when I fell in love with the latest book rec from a well-read friend. In You Are a Badass at Making Money, author and life coach Jen Sincero encourages the practice of self-realization, referring to it as the spiritual gym.
Rather than working out your glutes and abs, the idea is to stretch your potential; make the blood rise in your aspirations and intentions; do the work to get where you know you’re meant to be. This may look like a stack of Wayne Dyer books, or a workshop on financial freedom. It could be a deep dive with a therapist, or some conscious play time for your creative spirit. Your gym might even look suspiciously like a church or a temple.
The point is not to feel like you’re lacking as you self-help your way into being a happier person. The point is that we’re evolving, brilliant, interesting human beings with endless resources of tools and inspiration to aid us in being more of who we want to be. So give your soul a daily workout and don’t worry what anyone thinks.
A few of my favorite workouts include: • Meditation • Vision Boards • Mel Robbins’ Instagram • Coloring Books • Success Coaching • Listening to Rise Up by Andra Day • and Swing Sets
Tell me in the comments, what does your spiritual gym look like?
How and when exactly does our artist’s soul wither and die? It often happens so quietly it goes unnoticed. More importantly, can it be revived?
The phenomenon of creative mortality was illustrated very vividly years ago when I attended a luncheon, where the keynote speaker was motivational humorist, Craig Zablocki. (Wise and hilarious – go see him if the opportunity arises!) At one point he asked the room of 200 or so business owners to raise our hands if we could paint a picture if so requested. I have been drawing and painting since I was a kid and had just recently opened an art gallery – my hand went up, as did a few dozen others.
He then inquired how many of us could sing a song and I quickly dropped my hand lest he make eye contact and ask me to demonstrate. About the same number of hands went up for the song. Craig’s next question made us all take pause.
“So, how many would raise their hands if this was a room full of first graders?”
Um, yeah… all of them.
My earliest joy actually was singing. However, at some point – definitely after first grade – I decided to confine my musical career to the shower and focus on the visual arts. I don’t necessarily think most of us have a defining moment or a soul-crushing incident that leads us to believe we are incapable of drawing, singing, dancing or creating. Part of it is the decline of focus on the arts in education, but I believe as we get older, we uncover weaknesses, fears and doubts that send our childish zeal and confidence into hibernation.
Which means it can be awoken.
Like a bear coming out of the den, yawn and stretch those muscles! Sing with abandon in the car like I do. Dance like a weed-whacker in your living room or take tango classes. Go to one of the many paint-it-yourself studios and events. There’s a reason those businesses are growing in number, not to mention the popularity of adult coloring books and karaoke nights. And experts agree that being artful and creative touches other aspects of our lives; a little bravery from the right side of our brain can do wonders for the professional arena as well.
Like Elizabeth Gilbert says in Big Magic, “If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”
Tell me what piece of you went to sleep as you got older, and what you could do to rediscover it.