Living Our Potential
I am filled with gratitude and a renewed vitality waking up for my third morning with the Golden Gate bridge and ocean waves out my window. Canadian Thanksgiving, parting with a lover, and the awareness of the U.S. Government shut down and nearing debt default have sparked much reflection as themes of gratitude, love, and fear are reflected back to me. I find myself discovering new clarity amidst the uncertainty; open to all outcomes, attached to none. Each day finding a deeper inspiration to channel into a positive and creative outlet along the path of my life’s story.
As I continue to bring awareness to my limiting language and stories, hidden within my mental chatter, I realize that the only thing between me and my dreams is a deeply seeded fear of myself. A beautiful quote I read said that it is not fear of our darkness that limits us, but a fear of our light – a fear of living our fullest potential. This fear is storied differently depending on each individual, but they all come down to reasons why we can’t be who we want. I often reflect on what “living your fullest potential” means. The statement itself implies that you are not already there, that you have a greater version of yourself you have yet to become. Who is to say what that state is for you?
I believe human beings are capable of miracles – things that seem impossible from one story and are entirely possible from another. Many aspects of our lives would seem like miracles to people living even just 100 years ago. It is within our potential to live more than 150 years. It is within our potential to eat less and move our bodies in play every day. It is within our potential to always see the best in everyone. It is within our potential to have a globally cooperative society, free from war, abuse, and oppression. The abilities of people like Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Albert Einstein, and Nelson Mandela to create waves of change exist within ALL of us, and those are not even the limits of such potential! Why do so few ever reach such states of being?
Living your fullest potential is a present moment awareness of a future ideal of yourself. It is about bringing your conscious awareness into everything you do each day, and moving into a state of intentional action, rather than patterned reaction. Often I find it useful to “check in” with myself before making a decision by asking a question like, “Is this contributing to the more beautiful world my heart knows to be possible?” One personal example is that I notice myself overeating when I am reacting to a hunger urge and eat quickly, shoving the food in my belly and barely tasting it. Bringing awareness to eating for me means connecting with the food during preparation, pausing before eating to give thanks, finishing the bite in my mouth before reaching for the next one, and pausing for a minute during the meal as well as before dishing out seconds. This practice creates a more positive and constructive relationship between my food and my body. I would say that my fullest potential would be to eat this way all of the time (or even to not need to eat at all).
I have yet to integrate this present awareness in all moments, so it could be said that I am not living my “fullest potential”. I choose to see living my potential to be a fluctuating state, in line with the notion of always “doing my best”. My best will always be different depending on the day. I’m not going to run a marathon when I am sick and nauseous in bed – my best that day might be to devote time to recovery and reflection. How do I know what my best is for today? This question brings me back to feelings of excitement, fulfillment, and happiness. These feelings are the measuring sticks of living my highest potential, guided by the practice of asking “compass” questions. Is this aligned with my values? Does this truth reflect my inner integrity? How is this contributing to the world? How can I give back in this moment? Am I excited about doing this? Is what I am experiencing externally showing me something about myself I am not looking at? These are not questions that others can answer for us.
Our culture is one obsessed with doing – with making our mark by competing with others and adding to our list of measurable accomplishments. From this perspective, it can be easy to feel as though we should always be “doing more” than we are. We can always do more, but is “doing more” the main purpose of living? When is “more”, enough? What about a cultural value of being on one’s path to a personal dream? What about supporting everyone in the discovery of their passions and gifts? What about valuing the expansion of truth and depth in relationships with all beings? The thought that we “should be doing more” is one that cuts us off from being here and now – from giving your all to what you are actually doing presently. Sometimes this feeling can be a deeper truth that you are not putting your whole heart into whatever it is you are doing (lack of excitement or passion), whereas other times it can be reflecting a culturally taught story of the need to always be “doing”. Checking in will help you distinguish the source and remedy to re-establish balance.
I believe that dreams of our society’s true potential are entering into the minds of many and inspiring individuals to stand up and say no more to the injustices and broken spirits – we are capable of more than this! The “more” is shifting to no longer reflect the material and is now being understood to reflect depth, truth, responsibility, beauty, purpose, passion, and love. It is our birthright to live in love and to be free to create our wildest dreams. We deserve the more beautiful world our hearts know to be possible. Hold the vision of yourself in your highest state of being. See others as living their fullest potential. Forgive ourselves when we fall, but make sure to get back up again. Together we make miracles!