How are you showing up?

It’s the middle of winter. Now what?

I’m in the minority that likes it getting dark by 5:00 p.m. There’s something so comforting in knowing I can’t go out and “do” something. Yet, for many of us, this time of year brings feelings of isolation, depression, loneliness, and boredom. We’ve long forgotten our New Year’s goal to pursue the “good life.”

So how do we find and maintain joy in the middle of unwanted circumstances, difficult people, and a sense of discontentment? Many of us try to numb out, inhaling our feelings through a cigarette or drinking our emotions through a stiff drink (or two) at the end of the day. That leads down a predictable avenue: we don’t get quality sleep, which means we’re less resilient to challenges. Our clothes get a little too tight, so we feel uncomfortable and unattractive. We’re trapped.

We often believe if we have some particular thing, then we’ll be happy — warm weather, better relationships, a ski trip. But most of us have, at some point, been somewhere really cool and still felt sad. It’s not the “having” that brings us satisfaction.

What if a piece of the path to joy was who we were being — how we tended to “show up” in life? Do we show up generous or stingy, tender or cold, forgiving or resentful, cowardly or courageous, angry or loving, grateful or entitled? We get to choose.

I invite you to notice how you’re showing up this week. No need to fix it. Just notice. When you walk into your boss’s office, are you showing up guarded? Do you notice a tightness in your chest? When your teenager asks for more money, do you feel resentful? Is your jaw clenched?

How we show up shapes our experience of life. We have no real control over what happens or how people treat us. What we do have purview over is who we are being. Once we begin to notice habitual patterns of who we are being, we have a choice to keep it or leave it behind.

At one time in my business career, I endured a bad boss. I was being a victim. I was suffering, strategizing a way to avoid them. Once I began to notice how I was showing up, I started a transformation that allowed me to make powerful choices in my life. Today, the person you can count on me being is one of joy, inspiration, and fulfillment.

So when the sky is gray for the sixth day in a row and the temperature drops (again), notice the feeling of sadness, boredom, or resentment showing up. Notice who you’re being. Is this decision giving you energy or leaking energy? The practice of being aware and responsible for how you show up, no matter what, will help you be the creator of your life. And that’s a good thing for all seasons.

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