A mid-life crisis or a chance to be “more” me? If you are like many of us caught up in your busy, stressed out, mindless days of automatic and unconscious routines and behavior, you may have forgotten who you are and what you are doing here on this earth. Did you ever catch yourself wondering if you actually brushed your teeth this morning, and honestly can’t remember doing it? Do you look around and think everyone else has the secret to life—they are all doing something worthwhile—but that somehow you just haven’t figured it out? Have you grown stale, are you uncertain about where you are going and why? Do you wonder how you got here ?
If this sounds like you, you may be at a juncture. A juncture, is, quite literally, a crucial point in time when a decision must be made. A juncture generally occurs during a period of transition. The word “transition” comes from the Latin word “transire,” which means “to go across.” When you are in a period of transition in life, you are, well, literally going across an uncharted territory—the process of changing from one state or condition to another.
What are some of these junctures, or times when you are going through a transition and need to make a decision? It could be that you just graduated from college. Or, that you are changing jobs in your career. Maybe you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Or, you have gotten divorced. Or, perhaps you are becoming an “empty nester” with your grown children having left home and embarked on their own lives.
Whatever the reason—whether forced upon you, or the result of a series of choices or decisions—the days of sleepwalking through your life are over. You are ready to take an active, conscious role and be fully present in your life, neither fretting about the past nor worrying about the future. This is a time for heightened self-awareness. It’s a kind of tuning in, to yourself. It’s a time for deciding to “go home” in your heart. It’s about giving love and compassion to yourself.
It’s a process of creation. I call it “making me,” defining your personal growth during times of transition.
CHAPTER 1 CROSSING UNCHARTED TERRITORY
“You need a certain dose of imagination, a ray from on high, that is not in ourselves, in order to do beautiful things.” ~Vincent Van Gogh
When Vincent Van Gogh wrote those words, he believed that to see this world, a person needs more than eyes. He or she needs a “ray from on high,” an imagination awakened and illuminated by God. Regardless of your religious persuasion, it is not hard to believe that your life is a creation—one that needs only your illuminated imagination, and requires a certain faith and vision beyond that which you have currently experienced in order to change it.
Is it possible to change your life by changing the way you think? Positive psychologists in the past couple of decades have studied and written about achieving states of “flow.” Mihály Csíkszentmihályi popularized the term in his 1990 book, describing the mental state of flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake.” Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best. Harvard professor Teresa Amabile’s research shows that people who have experienced this state of mind report higher levels of productivity, creativity, and happiness for up to three days after experiencing flow state. Pushing ourselves just outside our comfort zone, stretching to accomplish a set goal and working toward that goal with focus, determination, and little distraction expands our minds and teaches us to be creative and innovative—skills that increase the quality of both the work you do and the life you live.
Are you regularly achieving “flow” in your life? Are you pushing yourself outside your comfort zone? If not, how can you do this? How do you know if you can, or where you should be engaging in flow? We are creative beings.