Chronic fatigue syndrome forced me to let go of trying to succeed on the outside as a means of validating my self-worth. And boy, that was hard for me. I was valedictorian of my high school. I was a scholarship winner. Growing up, that external validation of being the "smart kid" was all I had. Otherwise, I hated myself and thought I was unlovable.
We all have things that we cling to as measures of our self-worth. For men, it's often career and financial success. For women, it's attention-getting things such as physical beauty. We then pursue these external things as a means to happiness. We think if we can just buy that expensive sports car, or get those fake boobs, that we'll be OK. We'll be worthwhile and lovable.
The older I get, the more I realize that it's not what's on the outside that matters. It's not what you own, who you know, how much money you make, or what you achieve. If these things really did matter, then we wouldn't have celebrity suicides. What matters is the soul...the true essence of who you are, on the inside. Our connection to the divine - whatever that means to you, whether it's a Father God, nature, or a mysterious force that permeates all things. And of course, love.
Sure, goals can provide a sense of meaning, and pursuing dreams is often an important expression of our soul. But it's much easier to pursue these goals and dreams if you are not attached them as the sole means of validating yourself.
Think of the happiness of a child. A child doesn't need to have a fancy car or eat at an expensive restaurant to feel like life is worth living. A child gets happy playing in the dirt. A child finds joy in a blade of grass (it becomes a whistle!). A child finds fascination in the little things. We all have that inner child within us, just waiting to be set free from all our adult expectations and worries.
When the Beatles said "All you need is love" they were right. If I can help anyone be more in that space of self-acceptance, love and childlike wonder, then I've done a lot. From there flows the creativity, the positive relationships, and yes, sometimes even external success. Of course, once we get the success that comes from self-acceptance, we don't really need it to be happy, but it can sure be fun, as long as we don't get too attached to it.
Thus, the Feel Good Girl "Feelosophy" can be summed up as follows:
Feeling Good is not about being mindlessly "happy" and nicey-nice all the time. True Feeling Good is about a deep sense of inner satisfaction, self-worth, and peace with the world. Feeling Good has nothing to do with your age, your social status, the amount of money you make, or your accomplishments in life. Feeling Good is about expressing the highest version of yourself authentically and honestly. It's about truly feeling the joy of your soul.
A note on the image on this page: There I was, getting my photos taken on a dry, sandy beach. Paul, my photographer for the day, tells me to just sit there and "don't move" if the water comes up close. Well, I thought maybe the water would get me a little wet, but nothing prepared me for the deluge that swamped me as I sat there. Paul, who is an amazing photographer with an incredible amount of patience, did a brilliant job capturing me screaming and laughing just as the rogue wave overtook me. For Paul to capture that photo, he needed to be completely present and aware in the moment.
When I see this photo now, I am reminded of how happy and alive I felt in that moment, even though the water was very cold and my nice yoga outfit was soaked and ruined by the sandy brine. The photo is a reminder to me to laugh and enjoy the moment the next time a cold and wet surprise hits me. It could have been easy to run away from the wave, or get upset by the wave, but it was much better to simply allow the wave to wash over me and experience it.
And that's about as real as an example of living "feelosophy" as any.
You can see more of Paul Blackthorne's "being present" photography at www.paulblackthorne.com