I’m in the biz of helping people live their wildest dreams. I’m also a champion of discovering the wild genius of your current life. These two tracks must go hand in hand-- or else they can undermine you. After two decades of being in this field, I want to give you the best of the best of effective focus. So let’s talk about how to use the innate strategy of “big desire”—and that bad boy super power “true acceptance.” Together, big desire and true acceptance are an unbeatable dynamic mindset duo—guaranteed to take you into the one amazing life you’ve always wanted.
Why Desire is Everything
In my career coaching, I rarely listen to my clients’ “reasonable” desires. I’m a conjurer with a glittery heart. “What do you really want, like what’s too good to be true to want?” I ask. “Only the real dream has the power,” I remind them.
Real dreams have the power of Godzilla, extinguishing miniature ideas of “why things can’t work.” That’s why I hunt for purity. I know the crazy truth is your secret code. It’s holy. It’s mystical. It’s involuntary. And it makes you giggle. The truth is safer than the denial of truth. The truth will take you all the way.
“If you compromise your desire, you’ll compromise your strength,” I warn my pragmatic clients who bargain to be just a tiny bit miserable for good measure. But I’ve slogged the washed-out road of compromise. It’s a lose-lose path.
When I first left my law practice, I took my dreams “down a notch” to be “safe.” I talked myself into writing magazine articles, in the hopes of quicker sales and bylines, instead of writing a wild, unprecedented self-help book. It didn’t work. Compromise made sense on paper. But it was a paper plan and a paper tiger.
When the rejections came in, which is the normal trajectory of a writer’s life, I didn’t have the stamina to keep going. I didn’t really, really want to publish magazine articles. I wanted to write a book. I needed to write a book. When I finally gave in to my real desire, as I said in This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love, “I would have walked across the desert with only a Twinkie in my pocket singing with gratitude.” And I did. The real dream has that kind of power. Motivation expert Brendan Bruchard says that most people lack motivation because they’ve made their ambitions too small.
But here’s the shadow side of desire.
You can start thinking that your life isn’t right until you “get there,” achieve your imagined desire. You can start dismissing the process of working towards a dream or working towards finding your dream, and instead just yearn to be there as though there’s an end game. A Course in Miracles teaches that our ego says, “if this were different, I would be saved.” It’s a trick of the mind. It’s a way of holding out on yourself, insisting that peace of mind is somewhere else. Peace of mind is never somewhere else. The Buddhists have a term called “the hungry ghost.” It’s a figure with gaping desires and a tiny bud of a mouth; it constantly desires and never obtains satisfaction.
This is when desire can rob your blind. It can make you ignore the one true day before you. This isn’t the passion of a life-purpose. This is the obliteration of it.
Why Acceptance is Everything
Acceptance is fierce. It’s a brilliant force. It’s not a sedative but a jolt of love.
Real acceptance is the bravery to take life on life’s terms. It’s humility. Raw acceptance is the willingness to embrace your life, your one true, beautiful, challenging, disappointing, shocking, devastating and intriguing life. It’s the decision to be available. It’s the decision to stay present. To stay in the room. It’s easy to run. It’s familiar to shut down. Or to rage and blame and sneer and whimper.
Acceptance takes courage. Sometimes I feel like I must gather up the broken debris of a garage sale. I’ve tried to fob off my junk, but even the heartiest bargain-hunters or vultures aren’t having any of it. It’s all still there in my front yard. It’s mine to face. And with as much tenderness as I can muster, I collect my scraps and burdens. I coo at them. I apologize for trying to divest myself of what is apparently still mine to integrate.
It’s a discipline to show up in the faith that life is still going to work out beautifully in some unpredictable, unfathomable way, even when I do not want to show up for my life at all. I don’t want my life partner to suffer fatigue issues that defy Western medicine. And I don’t want the never-ending challenges of owning your own business while trying to seem competent and fabulous so that you can stay in business. Maybe you have your junk: I don’t want to deal with my mother who is forgetting to bathe. I don’t want to have to make a living, though the bills keep coming like ants to a picnic.
But acceptance is a miracle. Because acceptance is one of the secret ways we activate the workings of the transcendent realm. You don’t really know the life you have-- until you accept it.
I know that when I reject my life, I reject myself. My Inspired Self doesn’t enter a room desecrated by judgment. When I’m really looking to be set free, I assume there is something right about my life. I assume the miracle is here. It’s not elsewhere. It’s not later. It’s not someday. I don’t have to understand it. It’s here. It’s here the second I’m fully here.
But here’s the shadow side of acceptance.
Some people force themselves to accept something. That’s when acceptance becomes like eating dirt or smearing thick black tar on the feathers of the dove so that it never flies. It’s telling yourself that what is-- is what will always be. It’s forcing yourself to have gratitude when you’d rather have an ulcer. This isn’t acceptance. This is self-hatred.
I’ve fallen into this sink hole. I’ve thought in private shame, well this as far as you’re going, you might as well accept it. I was being “wise” and “spiritual” and “growing up.” But ,actually, I was giving up on myself. Writing off magic in my lifetime. By “accepting my fate,” I’d decided it was game over. I didn’t really show up for my dreams. I withered. This was resignation. It had nothing to do with acceptance. And let me tell you, resignation is a goddamn lie. Wake up. As long as you’re alive, you’ve got chances baby and I want you to take them.
So how do you feed the desire for what you really want AND practice true acceptance of what is?
This is the braided path of living a conscious and inspired life.
I remain conscious. I know my ego will never be satisfied, because that’s the nature of ego, or the part of myself that feels disconnected from a divine intelligence. It always feels lacking—no matter what. I will show up for the exact life I have with tenderness and presence. I want to bless it, even when I don’t want to bless it.
And at the same time, I will treasure my own natural desire. There is a healthy hunger, the true desire to do more, express more, love more, not because it increases my value, but because it honors it. In my second book Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in your Life’s Work! I wrote about coming to terms with my own big desire—calling it a choiceless choice, “just the note I came to sing.” I wrote: “Suddenly this need for boundless expression and a sweeping life was no longer about my ego. It was about my integrity. It was about staying true to the evolving, amazing life force within. It was simple. I needed to breathe fire so that I could breathe.”
So that’s the equation I’ve got so far. I’m going to show up fully for my dreams--even if it doesn’t seem like life is showing up for me—which let me tell you, on any given Monday is not an easy task. It’s a spiritual journey, perhaps no less than meditating, chanting, davening, trekking the Himalayas or serving the poor. But I know my desire has root magic in it. There’s medicine in what I love. There’s also love in the medicine life gives me.
It’s all magic. It’s all honey. It’s all pickle juice and jalapeno. Real life is so much bigger than we know. Please don’t let your desires torment you and limit what you can have right now. And please don’t limit your desires.
Join Panache Desai each weekday morning for support in reconnecting to the wellspring of calm and peace that lives within you and that has the power to counterbalance all of the fear, panic, and uncertainty that currently engulfs the world.
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