I am a big, BIG listener to and lover of podcasts. I nanny during the day, so — while I can do baby talk and love hanging out with my best 13-month-old pal — sometimes I need a little more stimulating “conversation” during my weekdays. Podcasts might not provide the back-and-forth of your typical conversation, but at least I can get a laugh or learn something interesting throughout the day.
I subscribe to funny ones, like My Favorite Murder (you might not think murder is comical, per se, but the hosts somehow tell these real-life horror stories in an unabashedly fascinated and, yes, humorous way); inspirational ones, like The Skinny Confidential: Him & Her (Lauryn Evarts is the creator behind the blog, The Skinny Confidential, and the banter with her husband, Michael, on their podcast is all at once informational, relatable, and hilariously real); and mindless, fun ones, like Straight Up with Stassi (she’s my favorite Bravolebrity and always has interesting guests and behind-the-scenes stories that I live for).
The latter is what I was listening to a couple weeks ago on the treadmill when I was happily surprised with a more serious topic than Stassi normally goes into. In this particular episode, she brought on a life coach who gave advice on working through anxiety, not letting others’ opinions get to you, and a simple method to understanding your place in the world. The life coach said that sometimes we get bogged down by other people’s expectations, and even our own expectations about how we think our lives should be going or how we should be dealing with things. (Raise your hand if you’re thinking, YEP, because I sure was.)
And then we get disappointed when life doesn’t go according to plan, or when we fall short in some way. So, she explained that we should all have a phrase to come back to when we’re feeling lost or out of sorts, no matter if it has to do with your personal life, work, relationships, or even just being stressed out in traffic. This phrase should be your home base, your reason for what you do and how you act in every situation and every second of the day.
It’s super easy to find your phrase, too, and I’ve been going through this exercise of sorts with everyone I know. The formula is simple: “To (verb) (noun).” You fill in your own blanks for the verb and the noun, and it can be ANYTHING that describes the core of everything you are and do. Or the core of everything you aspire to be and do.
Mine is: To cultivate authenticity.
In everything I do — in my relationships with friends and family, in conversations with strangers and loved ones alike, in my writing, in baby talk with the kiddo I watch, in putting emails together, in practicing yoga, in planning my finances, in copyediting for the magazine I freelance for, in participating in social media (which can feel very fake at times, am I right?) — I want to cultivate authenticity. I want to do my part in providing real, genuine, ME feedback. Or content. Or conversation. Nothing forced or contrived — that is my number one priority in everything that I do.
It’s astounding (and very, very difficult for a longwinded writer, such as moi) to pare down your very being to three words, one of which you can’t choose yourself. To me, it’s easiest to come up with your noun, the third word, first; it could be love, peace, community, connectedness, joy, creativity, freedom, patience, ease, courage, happiness, badass-ness (that’s my sister’s…), solutions, legacy, meaningfulness, levity, humor, and so on, and on, and on.
It should come to you fairly simply — what is the thing you want to bring with you into EVERY situation, every interaction, and every moment of your day? From there, think of how you want to bring about that thing daily. Do you want to create it; share it; be it; solve it; cultivate it; advance it; grow it; love it; practice it; enable it; protect it; charge it; immerse it?
After you’ve picked the verb and noun that fit you and your aspirations to a T, find a way to constantly be reminded of these words. Put a Post-It on your mirror. Add your words as a daily reminder on your phone so you see them at the same time every day. Turn them into a piece of art. Anything! Just do something to constantly remember your phrase as a sort of mantra to bring into all decisions, interactions, and thought processes.
Just the slight shift of keeping my phrase in the back of my mind the last couple of weeks has modified conversations, my approach to conflict, the prioritization of my day, and lots of other significant aspects of my life. And it was SO EASY. And kinda fun, right?
So, what’s yours? What are the three words that can provide you balance and perspective when everything else starts going haywire, or when you need to feel a sense of groundedness? (Let’s pretend that’s a word for a sec.) I would seriously, truly love to hear them, either in the comments below or in an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photography by Jessica Steddom.