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Cultivating Stokedness

Cultivating Stokedness

How many days do you wake up excited for life, stoked to be alive and take on the day’s challenges?

If your answer is “often,” then congratulations! That’s an amazing way to live life — but you’re in the minority.

Most people are unenthusiastic about their lives, not looking forward to what the day has in store. That’s not a bad thing — if that’s how you’re feeling, it’s just how you’re feeling. There isn’t a “right” way to be.

That said, if you’d like to be more stoked about life, then there are ways to cultivate that. We’ll explore some of those ways in this post.

Living a Life of Stokedness

What would it be like if you felt more excited by life each day? Or by what you were taking on at work, in your relationships, in your workouts?

Life is incredible, and we are immensely privileged to be alive in this miraculous world. We don’t always appreciate it — and that’s OK, to not always be grateful or excited — but there is the possibility of feeling more awe and wonder in our days.

Let’s say you wake up and you have a bunch of work to do (in addition to other things going on in your life). You could feel a sense of burden, overwhelm, and anxiety about all of it … or you could feel really excited by the meaningful things you’re taking on. It’s not that one approach is right and the other is wrong, but they are entirely different approaches and experiences. We have a choice.

What if you took on each thing with a sense of wonder, and an open heart? What if each act of your day were an expression of your love?

What Gets in the Way

All of that sounds good, but there are things that get in the way of living life this way:

  • A default of not being enthusiastic about life. This comes from years of having our enthusiasm dampened, from feeling disappointment over and over, from learning to be jaded.
  • A sense of pointlessness that comes when we feel like we’ve failed at things over and over, or that people have let us down over and over.
  • Built-up pain from things that have hurt us, to the point where little things can agitate the wounds in our hearts, easily causing frustration, anger, explosions of outrage.
  • Built-up fear from things that have gone wrong, leading to a general sense of anxiety and overwhelm, and worrying about everything.
  • Built-up resentment and anger from injustices and offenses, large and small.
  • Built-up self-judgment from all the things we think we’re doing wrong, failing at, etc.
  • Built-up sadness from many losses, both large and small, so that the world and people around us can easily trigger sadness.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, but I hope you can get a sense of what gets in the way of our enthusiasm and stokedness about life. Our hearts are closed more than open.

There is nothing wrong with any of this — it’s a natural consequence of life! We build up conditioning from lots of things that happen to us, from grief and loss to hurt and anger and fear. It builds up, and we lose the open-heartedness with the world.

Releasing the Blockers

If all of the above represents blockers in our hearts, then wouldn’t it be freeing to be able to release these blockers?

The process to release the built-up blockers is simple but not necessarily easy:

  • When the world triggers a conditioned blocker (anger, resentment, fear, sadness, hurt, overwhelm, anxiety, jealousy, grief, etc.) … notice that it’s there, and decide to release it.
  • Sit still for a few minutes, and let yourself feel whatever you feel. Relax, and allow the feeling as fully as you can. Surrender to it, allow it to just be an experience of energy in the moment.
  • Know that you’ll be OK. It’s just energy, and if you relax instead of resisting the energy, it will just pass through you. That said … only do it if the intensity is a 7 out of 10 or lower. You don’t need to work with a 10/10 intensity, unless you have a therapist working with you.
  • After it passes, give yourself some gratitude and love. You have released some of your blockage.

It might take a number of these kinds of releasing sessions to actually release a blocker, but the more you’re able to surrender and feel it, letting it pass through you, the less it will remain in you. You’ll be freed.

How to Cultivate Stokedness

If you commit to practicing with the releasing practice above, you will be much more open-hearted toward life. You will naturally be more and more enthusiastic.

In addition, you could actively cultivate a stokedness toward your life:

  • Try to find moments to appreciate the wonder of life. It could be out on a daily walk, or a quiet moment in the morning, or when you’re eating a blueberry. Set reminders so you can make this a regular practice.
  • Find something to get excited about. Recently I bought myself a running watch and have not shut up about it for weeks. What have you been excited about lately? Let yourself get caught up.
  • Get curious about people. What could you discover that’s interesting about the person in front of you? What makes them tick? What is the light beneath their shadow?
  • When you’re taking on a work task, could you connect with why it matters to you? Could you find something meaningful and awesome about it? If you do this regularly, you’ll find a new enthusiasm about whatever you take on.
  • If you’re going to do a workout, instead of doing it because you should, could you find something fun about it?
  • Let yourself approach things with a childlike sense of curiosity and wonder and play, as often as you can.

In general, see if you can purposely open your heart and let love move you. And see what such an open-hearted life could be like.

Credit

Zen Habits is about finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness. My name is Leo Babauta. I live in Davis, California with my wife and six kids, where I eat vegan food, write, run, and read. Source

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