You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running,
to work by working, to love by loving…
–Frances De Sales
What does Living Out Loud mean to you? More importantly, what does it look like? How does it feel?
How we define Living Out Loud is in direct relation to how we can experience it. We could define Living Out Loud as taking on the challenge to push ourselves in class: to dig deeper or go bigger than we ever have before. If we rise to that definition-maybe we’re breathing harder, sweating more (is that even possible in intenSati?!), or just a bit more uncomfortable-by our definition we’ll have succeeded.
It’s easy to do something once. Living Out Loud isn’t about doing something once or even twice. It’s a practice. A way of BE-ing. A place from which we can remake the world and ourselves-what we believe ourselves to be capable of-over and over again. And, when we decide to make Living Out Loud a way of BE-ing, rather than a singular action, that is when we have to move beyond our definition. We must move beyond how we define Living Out Loud to What does Living Out Loud look like? How does Living Out Loud feel?
After Sunday’s intenSati class, I had a thought provoking conversation about Living Out Loud with a woman who had taken class. She told me about a woman she met named Bobbie who is 98 and avidly plays golf, winning tournament after tournament. For Bobbie, taking up golf in her 30’s is what brought her out of her shell and the discipline of the game continually challenged her to go beyond her comfort zone. Bobbie’s secret to LIVE-ing life? “Do something every day that takes you out of your comfort zone. That…and some chocolate covered pretzels don’t hurt either.”
This 98-year-old woman’s life mantra hit the nail on the head for me. It’s a perfect illustration of Living Out Loud. It’s about going out every day and doing something outside your comfort zone. And maybe having some chocolate covered pretzels along the way 🙂 because that’s where the growing and the LIVE-ing takes place. (Fascinated by Bobbie? You can read more about her HERE in the 17th Annual Induction Ceremony of the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame).
When we stop pushing our limits, that’s when we believe we have them.
It’s only when we shy away from the edge of discomfort that we create boundaries. It’s only when we stop taking on new challenges that we stop experiencing new things. It’s only when we stop Living Out Loud that we stop really LIVE-ing.
Is it any wonder that Bobbie is thriving and LIVE-ing her life at an age that most of us would chalk up to assisted living and going through the motions? Not at all. For me, it’s a no brainer equation. I encounter the same LIVE-ing Out Loud experience when I push myself in a class I’m taking. When I push myself to the point where my lungs burn, my legs ache and my mind is begging me to tap the brakes-when I push TO that point and then THROUGH that point-it happens! Call it a second-wind, call it a ‘breaking through perceived limitations’ experience, call it whatever you want; but for me it feels like freeness. It’s expansive. It’s thrilling. And when it happens, and I mean every time I get to this point, I get chills and the hairs on my arms stand up, even when I’m slopped in my own sweat. It’s the most amazing feeling of accomplishment…but it’s hard to get there. Over the past month I’ve had dozens of classes where I’ve pulled back and went smaller. In those instances, instead of feeling expansive, I just felt heavy: the heavy weight of going through the motions. The same holds true in our day to day living.
When willpower gives out, action is much harder to take. We can tell ourselves, “Go faster. Go bigger. Don’t stop now, you’re so close!” but if that thought isn’t bound by a feeling, it won’t change us. We’ll eventually give into to the burning lungs or aching legs and play small. But, if we can call up the feeling of what we’re going for, if we can create a mental picture of what that success or freedom or Living Out Loud looks like, especially when we’re in in the face of discomfort; we change our self-concept and what we believe ourselves to be capable of. When we say, “I AM strong,” in class as we punch, we aren’t motivated to go bigger or faster by the action of punching. We are called to action because we identify with strength, with what strength looks like and feels like. We identify strength as our self-concept. In the end, the only way to determine if we’ve done what we say we wanted to do is by the feeling. At the end of the day, the workout, the conversation-beyond the discomfort you feeling during each of those things-how does it feel after?
We learn by doing and it is in the doing that we feel. No amount of knowledge can replace the power of action. As the opening quote by Frances De Sales says, “You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, to love by loving…” The same holds true for courage, perseverance, strength or Living Out Loud. Living Out Loud is a way we can only learn by doing and feeling.
What will YOU do today that takes you outside your comfort zone?