Earlier this year I found myself at a crossroads. I was in a job in advertising that I knew without a shadow of a doubt wasn’t right for me and I was making far too many tearful phone calls to my boyfriend because I was so creatively stifled and drowning in the mundane trivialities and stresses of 8 – 4 employment.
I was chatting about this very dilemma while waiting to go into a yoga class one day, but little did I know that my yoga instructor was quietly and thoughtfully listening to my whining, and formulating in his mind the seven words that would trigger a pivotal turning point in my life.
Some time later, the yoga studio was dark. Sweaty, tranquil bodies lay strewn across the moist ground that supported us as we gave ourselves up to savasana, and I was somewhere between sleep and waking, feeling the energy of my practice pulsing in quiet vibrations at the tips of my fingers and toes; and it was in that moment of utter relaxation that he said it: “Make decisions out of love not fear.”
How totally and completely obvious: make decisions out of love not fear. If I could take these words and tattoo them onto my face without being a social pariah, I promise you I would.
When you make a decision out of love, you make it out of passion, out of excitement – you do something because you want to and because the yearning for it cries out from inside you until you just cannot know happiness until you get it out. For me, that love and passion was writing. I’ve wanted to be a writer since before I can remember; words are who I am and what I’m about. So why would I stay in an unfulfilling job that has nothing to do with writing or creativity?
Yet, so many of us do exactly that: we stay in jobs that we hate or in relationships that are unhealthy, we maintain friendships with negative ‘frenemies’, and the list goes on. Why do we do these things? Because we’re making decisions based on fear. Do any of these sound like familiar excuses?
‘I can’t quit my job. I have bills to pay.’
‘I can’t leave my boyfriend because I’m over 30 and need to get married.’
‘I would go travelling but it’s too expensive and I can’t find a travel buddy.’
‘I would go to that workout class but I’m so out of shape I would embarrass myself.’
These excuses all have one thing in common: they’re rooted in fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of loss, fear of poverty, fear ad nauseum. When you make a choice, particularly a critical life choice, based on fear, you are basing your entire life and existence on fear, anxiety and insecurity. And when you look at it like that, it suddenly becomes crystal clear that there are so many ways that we’re holding ourselves back, crushing our own dreams, suffocating our own ambitions and wrapping ourselves into a heavy, depressing cloak of complacency and mediocrity.
But guess what? While it may be easier to be complacent, it’s also shittier. Complacency leads to resentment and laziness; and this is what keeps us in unsatisfying jobs, meaningless relationships and ultimately stagnant, uninspiring lives.
So think about it. Go through your cobwebby old bucket list of hopes, dreams and grand plans and for each one, write down why you haven’t done it yet. I’m sure you’ll soon discover the same common thread I did: you’re making decisions based on fear. It always ultimately comes down to that.
Now take those dreams and decide to make them happen because you want to and because they’re something you’re passionate and excited about. It doesn’t need to be anything over the top; maybe it’s a decision to quit your job and learn to be a race car driver or maybe it’s just going to an acting workshop or samba class once a week. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to adopt the philosophy of basing your life on love, excitement and passion.
As for that wise yoga instructor, thank you. Because making my decisions from a solid foundation of positivity and enthusiasm has made me happier and more fulfilled than I’d ever thought possible – and the catalyst for it all lies in those seven simple words.
So go on, just try it… you’re not scared, are you?