Fearless

I don’t read the Huffington Post at all- it strikes me somewhat as generally fast-food media.  But a good friend of mine convinced me to pick up Arianna Huffington’s book On Becoming Fearless – and I’m loving it.  

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While this novel is a fast and relatively simple read in concept- it is timely for so many women who have ardently pursued professional careers and are now facing the question of what is all of this for?  The question of how women can balance the professional with the personal- without one antagonizing the other.  How to create our own unique path without emulating those taken by successful men in both career and life- as ours is a unique conflict when it comes to family planning, fertility & the pursuit of professional success.  It strikes a chord in the same way the recent Atlantic cover story by Anne-Marie Slaughter did, to so many millions of women in today’s world. 

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Some excerpts:

To live in fear is the worst form of insult to our True Selves.  By having such a low regard for who we are- our instincts and abilities and worth- we build a cage around ourselves.  To prevent others from shutting us down, we do it for them.  Trapped by our own fears, we then pretend that we’re incapable of having what we want, forever waiting for others to give us permission to start living.  Pretty soon, we start to believe this is the only way. 

Fearlessness is not the absence of fear.  It’s the mastery of fear. 

Fearless in Love

The rewards of emotional fearlessness- the willingness to show anger, love, even fear- are many.  The deepest of these is the gift of profound intimacy, captured by Tom Stoppard in his play The Real Thing:  “It’s to do with knowing and being known.”  Knowing and letting oneself be known require overcoming many ancient fears- but it’s worth every risk. 

Fearless About the Body

Ultimately the greatest beauty secret is to live out our passions and connect with our spirit.  The 2004 Dove Campaign for Real Beauty Report, an extensive survey of women of various ages and nationalities, found that “women feel beautiful when they are fully engaged in meaningful life activities.  More than half of women say they feel beautiful when they help others (54%); spend time with their children (53%); achieve success (46%); are physically active (46%); do something artistic (39%); enjoy a hobby (39%); or dance (35%).  Surprisingly activities that are directly related to beauty, such as shopping for beauty care products and looking at fashion magazines, were less likely to make a woman feel beautiful.  Spirituality also plays a key role in helping women feel beautiful.  75% of women agree that beauty comes from a woman’s spirit and love of life, not from her looks.  42% said that one of the times they feel the most beautiful is when they attend a religious service.” 

Mental stagnation is the fastest way to grow old

Fearless about Money

True fearlessness about money can come only when we are not driven by an insatiable desire for security but have begun living a life driven by passion and purpose, regardless of our specific financial circumstances.

Abundant passion and abundant hope (not to mention abundant nerve) pushed me past my financial fears.  It is impossible to be fearless about money if we don’t value other parts of our lives and ourselves more than we value our bank accounts.

Fearless At Work

Ultimately to be fearless at work means to find a sense of self-determination, accomplishment, fulfillment, and purpose that helps us live our best lives.  By being a leader at work- taking risks and doing things in new ways- we can mentor and show others the way to not only excel but transform the meaning of work. 

Fearless about God & Death

“If you do your 10 percent 100 percent, God will do the 90 percent and you’ll live in grace.”  Once we recognize that even when we put everything we have into a project or a relationship, many factors beyond our control determine the outcome, a lot of stress and fear evaporate.  And we can live in grace.

Meditation, yoga, affirmations and daily prayer all help connect us to this higher reality beyond our immediate concerns.  The payoff for spiritualizing the everyday is immediate and enormous.  When we look at our world from a higher point of view, all our fears are put into perspective and even our biggest problems become less intimidating. 

Shakespeare on love, “love is an ever-fixed mark,/ That looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

 

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