It’s the beginning of fall, and I woke up this morning with a sense of melancholy and the feeling of ever-present change. This time of year always gets me like that. The changing of the season also means a necessary shift in my thinking.
To me, fall is a time of release. Of letting go. The trees begin to turn color, ultimately giving up their leaves to the wind, stripping them bare. Essentially, the old them must die so that they can be reborn in the spring. Fall is not a time of loss—it’s a time of change.
We are not very different from these perennial beings. Like them, we have no choice about the changes in our own seasons. Nature is nature, and when a change is necessitated, it will happen.
As summer yields to fall, it gives me a chance to reflect and release any burdens I have been carrying with me. It’s the time to accept the impermanence that all life here on Earth experiences. t’s also a time to relax and open up our hearts. To be inspired to live in the moment. Thich Nhat Hahn once said, “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything—anger, anxiety, or possessions—we cannot be free.”
Just as the trees can’t cling to their leaves, we can’t cling to the things that are weighing us down. In a season of change, you have to accept the changes that will happen and allow the heaviness in your life to fall away.
This morning, I was clutching my ceramic coffee mug, filled to the brim with a Brazilian blend that mimics the flavor of smokey bourbon, and taking in the view of life in my yard, just through the cloudy panes of glass. A voice softly whispered to me, then grew louder when I didn’t listen right away. The voice asked, “If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self to equip her with everything she needed to live a life of peace, calm, joy, and prosperity? What words would help her accept the truth that we, like the autumn arbors, must let go and surrender? That doing so is the only way to live not just the rest of her life but the best of her life?”
I curled onto my overstuffed couch, wrapped myself up in a faux blush pink fur throw, and closed my eyes. I thought long and hard. I drew in deep breaths and deeper thoughts. I allowed myself to dive vastly into my infinite self. My true self. The real Katie. And in that moment of meditation, I had ten vital realizations. They were the words my younger self needed, and the very words I will give to you right now:
1. Don’t wait for or lean on others’ approval or accolades to measure your successes and self-worth in this world
If you always do the right thing and come from a place of love and purpose you will never have to wait for reinforcement that you are a good person and you will not have to rely on recognition from others. Fulfill your own needs first, and then pay it forward. Give others compliments and love that you would in turn desire to receive and you will always receive in return what you give out. Karma is a law of the universe, and most of all, a boomerang. So go ahead and approve of yourself. Celebrate your wins. Heal your own wounds. When you do these things, no one else’s approval will be needed nor will it even matter. When people do give you acknowledgements or praise, you can simply thank them and let the positive words move through you. That is a freedom like no other.
2. Stop wishing your current situation was different
So much unhappiness is experienced through living in the past or chomping at the bit for what the future will bring. Many experts say that anxiety is a direct result of perseverating about the future and depression is a direct result of wishing that the past could be different. Be here now. Right now, right in this moment. Treat being present as a game. Every time you feel your mind drifting to places other than the here and now, tell your brain to cut the crap and come back to center. This discipline will take some time to master, maybe even a lifetime or two, but it can and will happen if you practice being present. Remember this: You are exactly where you need to be to gain the knowledge and lessons that you must learn to evolve your soul during this earthly experience.
3. The negative talk in your mind is not coming from your true self
Most of the thousands of thoughts we think in a day are not part of our true inner voice and guide. As Florence Scovel Shinn describes in her book The Game of Life and How to Play It, the voices we hear throughout our day that are not kind, uplighting, or inspiring come from what she describes as “the army of the aliens.” They are placed in our minds to deter us from listening to our divine intuition. Trusting your true self ultimately leads us to a very happy and successful existence. The more people listen to those negative voices and take them as “our voices”, the longer we will be kept from experiencing bliss—our birthright. We are not those thoughts. We are merely the thinkers of the thoughts. Most of them are coming from our subconscious minds, and not our intuition and divine selves. We need to learn how to differentiate between the two in order to have joy and harmony throughout our lives. Ask yourself: Is this voice hurting or helping me? If it’s hurting, it’s not the one you need. Once you know what is true and what is alien, your life will be unbounded and full of love.
4. Quit hurrying
One of the things that took me way too long to learn and accept—and something I am still diligently working thorough—is that success will be way more abundant and enjoyable if I approach everything I do in life from a place of trust, flow, and ultimately a chill energy. Instead, we are constantly trying to jam the square peg in the round hole. We say things like “I gotta grind” this out instead of just flowing with the Universal energy that guides us all. It sucks out the joy and makes us focus only on the clock, not what is meant to be. When we use too much logic and not enough intuition, we may still achieve success, but we’ll be standing there saying to ourselves, “Is this all there is?” Slow and steady wins the marathon. Flow don’t hustle. Trust and don’t manipulate your timeline. Just be and you will still achieve everything, I promise.
5. Know your gifts and use them to power your purpose
People are genuinely happier when they know why they are here, what their gifts and talents are, how to use them to make a living, and most of all, how to have an impact on people’s lives for the better. If your work is part of living in your mission and purpose, then every day will feel like play, not labor. Who doesn’t want to be in a state of childlike pleasure on a daily basis? That’s part of our mission in life as well. Matthew 18, verses 1-5, say it best: And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes a lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me.” Heaven is inside us already, if we live in this energy and in this energy only. So play. Have fun. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Know your purpose and do only that. Everything else is a distraction.
6. Don’t take things so personally
For the first thirty years of my life, I took everything negative people said to me as if their words were a death sentence. Someone could say the tiniest thing to me and in an instant my entire day could go from sunshine and rainbows to an overflowing porta potty on a construction site in the middle of August. It took me a while to realize that what people say and do to me is a direct reflection of their own inner demons and tortuous thought loops, not mine. It’s not personal; it’s about them. Let go and let God. It ain’t about you, sis.
7. Take care of your health now or you will pay the price later
Eat healthy. Drink tons of water. Move your body. Sleep. Take your vitamins. Fast. Rest. Rinse and repeat. Of course you can have a piece of cake or a bowl of pasta once in a while. This is about being healthy overall, because if you aren’t, you will regret it. Investing in your health now makes sure that later in life you have not just longevity, but quality longevity. You will not be controlled by the maladies that “are just part of the aging process”. It is possible to experience health and longevity for your entire life. You don’t have to grow old and decrepit. Youth is not wasted on the young, as they say. That quote must have been from someone who didn’t invest in their health at a young age. Creating healthy routines now ensures you don’t have to trade your money for health in your later years. Take care of your temple and don’t treat it like a trashcan.