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Professional Optimism

“I get it, it’s nice up here. You could just shut down all the systems, turn down all the lights, just close your eyes and tune out everyone. There’s nobody up here that can hurt you. It’s safe. What’s the point of going on? What’s the point of living? Your kid died, it doesn’t get any rougher than that. It’s still a matter of what you do now. If you decide to go then you just gotta get on with it. Sit back, enjoy the ride, you gotta plant both your feet on the ground and start living life. Hey, Ryan, it’s time to go home.” -Matt Kowalski, Gravity

Some days seem to be better than others.

The recognition that those days count as much as any other is the essence of professionalism.

A professional is someone who knows that he doesn’t have to feel good in order to do good.

In this interview with Behind the Brand, Mike Rowe advises, “don’t follow your passion, but always bring it along.”

A professional knows that inspiration won’t always take the lead. No success story ever begins or ends with “I never felt uninspired.” Turning pro is about recognizing that moods, like seasons, move in cycles, and that the temporary absence of enthusiasm doesn’t have to mean the absence of effort.

In The Hunger Angel, Herta Müller wrote: “To combat death you don’t need much of a life, just one that isn’t yet finished.”

Meaningful work, including the inner work of personal development, can always be done. The decision to plant one’s feet on the ground and put one foot in front of the other is neither cheapened nor trivialized by a lack of emotional fanfare.

Freedom is not something we can fully experience merely by passively inhaling the universe’s air. Freedom must be chosen.  It must be embodied and expressed as the “the will to live.”

For the professional optimist, “I will” precedes “I feel.”

Coping as Choreography

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” -Rumi

Emotions are like music.

Every feeling is its own genre.

To say that one feeling is objectively better than another would be like saying Classical is better than Jazz or Blues is better than Country.

But feelings are not a matter of right and wrong. They simply (or not so simply) are what they are.

Coping with the complexity of our feelings is a form of psychological choreography.

Just as there are moves belonging to ballet that do not belong to salsa, each mood requires its own unique style of reactions and responses.

We all must strive to find our own ways, however quirky and unsexy those efforts may be, of moving to the unorthodox rhythms of anger, sadness, jealousy, or any other “style” of emotion that tends to “trip us up” or “throw us off.”

The problem with feeling is not that our moods fluctuate nor that our emotions seem to fail us. The greater dilemma is that most of have only learned how to dance to one type of song.

I came here to feel

wipeout“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart” -Helen Keller

“The main thing is to be moved, to love, to hope, to tremble, to live.” -Auguste Rodin 

I do not aspire to be “above” my feelings any more than a surfer aspires to fly above the water in a helicopter.

I want to be “down there” where the action is.

I want to ride the waves of energy in motion.

I do not wish to seek shelter on the safe shores of stoicism nor do I long to find recourse on remote islands of indifference.

Take me out into the ocean, hand me a surfboard, and throw me off the damn boat.

I am not here to stay dry. I am here to engage the wild waters of felt experience.

And although, at various times, It may seem as if I am being pushed and pulled beyond my conscious control, I am satisfied in the awareness that I will know what it feels like to be moved by life.

Whether wiped out or worn out; whether turned on or turned off; I came here to feel.


raining-man“Love your wanting. Praise your desires. Be proud of your feelings, and glad for your actions. What moves your hand? Happiness. What sparks your thoughts? Happiness in you. What pulses in your heart with desire? Happiness. What gives those desires names? Happiness.” -Bruce M. Di Marsico, The Option Method

“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.” -Khalil Gibran

Life begins with feeling.

Before the world is contemplated by the mind, it is tasted, seen, smelled, heard and touched through the senses.

Being-ness is not the object of belief.

The fact of our existence is neither mediated nor inferred by thinking, but is viscerally apprehended through what Terence Mckenna calls “the felt presence of direct experience.”

Ken Wilber refers to this primitive awareness as “the simple feeling of being.”

To feel is to be. To be is to feel.

We are, first and foremost, creatures of sensation.

Even when we reason about the world, our thought processes are moved along by the engine of feeling.

The desire to know is a feeling. The passion for understanding is a feeling. The longing to make sense of things is a feeling. The fear of being wrong is a feeling. The concern with being right is a feeling. The dissatisfaction with simplistic answers is a feeling.

The lover of logic is driven by the passion he feels for objectivity and intellectual rigor.

The one who looks contemptuously upon those who are driven by feeling, is himself driven by his own feelings of frustration.

No matter how we orient our lives, feeling precedes us at every turn.

In Their Eyes Were Watching God,  Zora Neale Hurston wrote:

“There is a basin in the mind where words float around on thought and thought on sound and sight. Then there is a depth of thought untouched by words, and deeper still a gulf of formless feelings untouched by thought.”

Everything we think, say, and do arises from a primordial feeling-space.

To deny, disregard, or disparage our feelings is the ultimate act of self-negation.

We cannot condemn our capacity for emotional and sensory awareness without contradicting the very essence of who we are.

The task of philosophy is to help us reawaken and recover that which comprises our most intimate connection with all that is: feelings!

“Out of the heart flows a wellspring of life.” -Proverbs 4:23

Quiet your mind and trace your thoughts back to their source in the inexhaustible depths lying at the center of your being.

Remain present and feel deeply.

Hark! The wind of passion
Swiftly weaving over your soul
Bless the surge of thunder rolling onto your shore
Greet the deep emotion
That sleeps beneath the ocean floor
Watch elation bound release it’s furious roar

Feel! Feel! Feel! Feel what you long to
Feel! Feel! Feel! Feel what you long
To feel

Flee from the snares that wish to
Deny how you feel
Hope, live , love, yearn
And feel, feel what you long to

-Michelle Tumes, Feel

Your feelings are your friends

All emotions are forms of energy and are therefore capable of being assimilated into the creative process.

Instead of attempting to “purify yourself” of anger, explore the possibility of channeling it along productive lines.

Frustration, when bottled up and suppressed, corrupts the soul. But when redirected away from what is unwanted towards what is wanted, it becomes a most powerful constructive force.

The same fire which can burn a house can also be harnessed to cook a meal.

Like the forces of nature, our emotional energy can flow in more than one direction and serve many ends.

The next time your emotional fires are stoked, look at it as an opportunity to harness the activity of Spirit.

In the same way you might use a burning candle to light a dead one, actively seek out ways to transfer the spark of those emotions towards an area in your life that needs to be ignited.

We are not left to choose between resenting our moods or being stuck with them. What we call negative feelings can function as our greatest allies in manifesting the life we desire when we learn to work with them and not against them.

That sums up the way I feel.

What about you?

T.K. Coleman

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