Earlier this week I was in an online group (hosted by my friend Stephanie Benedetto Padovani) where we went into breakout rooms with one other person and for 10 minutes we took turns sharing what we love with our companion. It was amazing to notice the shift in energy that took place within both of us that transcended the virtual nature of our connection, as we focused on something so seemingly simple as talking about what we love.
There was a powerful feeling that was palpable to both of us - a combination of delight, excitement and optimism. The things we included in our"love lists" ranged from the sublime to the mundane, and after it was over the experience lingered with me in one single question: am I living my life in alignment with what I love?
I had to go back to basics and ask myself what it means to be in alignment. The meaning of the word is to 'line up with' or 'give support to,' so what am I lined up with? What do I acknowledge that touches me, makes me stop and appreciate, that brings me back to varying degrees of awe, gratitude and connection?
By way of example, here are ten things I love (out of many more):
1. The sound of ocean waves as they crash against the shoreline.
2. Fireflies lighting up the fields at night
3. The smell of lilacs in spring.
4. Meteor showers
5. The woodpeckers that visit our suet feeder.
6. Music. It would be hard to live without.
7. Making art, especially when the results are unexpected.
8. Having real conversations.
9. The warmth of sunshine after a long winter.
10. Baby anything: people cats, dogs, turtles, horses…
What do you love? Start making your own list and see what happens as you do. As I look at my own list, I start to remember more things that I love, whether I come across them or create them, and my heart starts to sing. (You may find yourself hearing the song, My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music in your head). But it goes far beyond just not feeling so bad.
When I’m connected to what I love, I find myself in an expanded state without doing anything other than remembering and noticing. No intellectual concepts, no tactics or strategies. Just the pure awareness of the gifts that life presents to us without our permission, without our having to earn them, but just because they exist and we get to experience them.
What would happen if we purposefully choose to acknowledge what we love in our lives? Could it lead to a discovery of inner resources we never knew existed or a way to connect with something greater that would transform how we show up in the world? That’s what it’s done for me, and it’s been a heck of a lot of fun to discover.
Acknowledging what we love doesn't mean we have to be talking about those things incessantly. It's a grounding, a "come from" that flavors everything we do. When our purpose or intention is to live from that expanded and open space inside us, there's a state of flow that happens effortlessly; we see more, do more and have access to more possibilities.
As I reflect on how I feel just by acknowledging what I love, the connection between alignment, integrity (to be whole and undivided) and authenticity (genuineness becomes obvious to me. I'm out of alignment when I don't live from that place within me that resonates with this beautiful feeling. When I don't live from that place of love, I fall back into feeling of struggle, of pushing or striving rather than being open to creative impulses and the ability to see the potential for good in everything.
Just to be clear: living from love isn't some airy fairy, saccharine pretend-everything-is-fine perspective. It's more like living from the truth of what is freely given and that allows us to do what we can to contribute to positive change in the world. And the feeling we get will tell us what to do and where to go next. That's freedom. And joy.
And to be honest, I don’t live from that place all the time. Far from it. I have my own triggers that throw me out of that recognition. And yet, it’s become easier and easier to get back to there. The more I pay attention to what I love, the less I automatically find fault with everything else. And when I’m not finding fault with everything else, I see more options for acceptance, curiosity and engagement.
If we aren't incorporating what we love into the way we live our lives, living from it and acknowledging it, why not? More often than not, we’re just caught up in old habits of putting ourselves (or others) in the wrong, feeling insecure or inadequate.
These are habits that can be broken. If I can do it, then so can you. Your own light will begin to shine more and more brightly, and the quality of your life will improve immeasurably when you allow yourself to align with and include those people or things that remind us of who we are and what we can become.