‘Living the Dream’ is a twelve-week program that supports people like us (you and me) to gain clarity on our goals and ideal life and develop the habits and beliefs to experience this life, one day at a time, in reality. To learn more on how you can participate contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s Week 4 in this testing round of the Living the Dream program that I’m currently designing. The program is being undertaken by two close friends of mine who recently reached out for some support in setting goals at an important time in their life. I hope to be able to make the program available to others shortly after they complete it.
The twelve-week program is designed in 3 phases, with each phase ending with a “free” week, with no structured challenges. After exploring Self-Love, Vision & Purpose and Values in the past few weeks, this week is our first “free” week. So, I wanted to use this opportunity to reflect on an important concept in exploring our purpose; embracing the paradox of life.
The Paradox; what is it?
Wait. What’s a paradox? There are several ways to define a paradox and numerous examples.
Take an MC Escher drawing for starters:
Or this sentence:
Is the answer to this question ‘No’?” (well…erm..)
Kind of sends your head into a spin, doesn’t it?!
The definition that I’m most interested in talking about goes something like this:
Paradoxes in everyday life
Several years ago, a friend of mine updated their Facebook status by saying something like this:
It’s so hard sometimes to tell the difference between the resistance that I need to push through and the resistance that is protecting me.
This really struck a chord with me, because I feel like I struggle with these kinds of paradoxes all the time in my everyday life:
- The balance between pushing through resistance to grow + listening to resistance for protection
- The balance between tenaciously pursuing a goal + surrendering to the possibilities of the unknown
- The balance between pushing toward what I want + allowing myself to be pulled toward what I need
- The balance between business + pleasure
- The balance between strength + softness (this was the theme of my yoga class this morning)
Why these paradoxes are awesome
I’ve learnt however, that resisting the tension of theese opposing forces in our lives is not the answer. In fact, I’ve found that it is within the tension between these opposing forces that real life takes place.
I’ve read several authors such as David Deida, who have described the dynamic of intimate love as an interplay of “creative tension” between masculine and feminine forces. It is in this “creative tension”, this “messy” and dynamic exchange, that the magic, passion and spontaneity of love happens.
And I see this same dynamic applying across other areas of our life. Whenever the opposing forces of our life rest at one extreme or the other, the movement, dynamism and growth in our life also ceases.
It is in the creative tension and the struggle of trying to combine and balance the opposing forces of our life that we learn, grow and evolve!
This is the dance of life!
How to embrace the paradox of life
Finding the balance between the opposing forces in our life is something that will be different for all of us and also different at the different points in our life. Firstly, accepting that these opposing forces exist and that’s OK, is a great starting point because we can begin to let go of unnecessary resistance and embrace the freedom of dancing in this tension!
Another way to embrace the paradox of life is to practice listening to where we are at, in any given moment, and adjusting our life accordingly. Have a read over the following questions and ask yourself where you sit on one side of the spectrum or the other, and this might tell you where you need to shift your energy:
- How much control | how much surrender?
- How much planning | how much spontaneity?
- How much seriousness | how much playfulness?
- How much urgency | how much patience?
- How much push | how much pull?
- How much strength | how much softness?
I believe a balance of both extremes is necessary, however I also believe the best way to explore our purpose is to start with action. It’s much easier to ease the foot off the accelerator than it is to gather the motivation and momentum to get moving. So, if in doubt, start anyway!
Christian is the founder of Be Awesome and is currently getting messy in the paradoxes of life. He is passionate about sharing the best of what he has learnt to allow others to experience more freedom and greater quality of choice in their life.
Since taking the “red pill” in 2010 and departing from a traditional career as an architect, Christian has explored a weird and wonderful career path involving teaching, community engagement and cultural management. He uses design thinking to help individuals and organisations act more creatively and gets excited about the opportunities that arise through travel, collaboration, chance encounters and new relationships formed across a range of creative fields. To work or play with Christian contact him here.