This is one of my favorite takeaways from psychologist Robert Holden’s bestselling and cleverly titled book “Shift Happens.” It is one of the key messages as hinted at in the book’s subtitle: “How to Live an Inspired Life Starting Right Now.”
Just don’t call it a self-improvement book.
Living an inspired life means shifting your perspective through practicing six principles.
The first, Identity, centers on the difference between self-improvement and “self-acceptance.”
“No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance,” Holden says.
The ego wants you to reinvent yourself to be happy, whereas your unconditioned real self wants you to be more authentic.
Listening to the ego is a fool’s errand. “We are trying to change ourselves before we’ve ever been ourselves,” Holden says.
In other words, your goal is not to change yourself as it is to change your mind about yourself.
The path of self-acceptance means asking yourself a series of questions:
Are you willing to accept that there is more to you than your self image?
Can you accept there is nothing wrong with you?
Can you accept that “you are what you seek”? (In other words, you already have love, happiness, and other innate qualities.)
The most impactful question for me is on possibility (go figure):
Can you accept the possibility that if something is missing in your life, it is more of the real you?
The second principle, Happiness, is to know the difference between “searching for happiness and following your joy.”
“Much of our happiness is our response to our inner call for joy,” Holden says.
To practice this principle, Holden recommends asking yourself to contemplate moments when you feel most alive, when you are at your happiest, and what it is that truly inspires you.
The third principle, Success, “is identifying the real more that you really want.” Hint: It’s not about buying more stuff. When you find what you really want, you find you’ll want less of everything else. As the Course in Miracles teaches, the only thing missing in any situation is what you are not giving.
Relationship is the fourth principle. To be more accepting of yourself requires being more receptive of others. Practice this by consciously being more present and “spontaneously available” throughout your day.
Next, you need to let go of the past by practicing the fifth principle, Healing.
“The world has finished with your past, if you have,” Holden says.
Through forgiveness, you can start living in the “present tense.”
“The past is a series of experiences. It is not your identity,” Holden says.
The final principle, Growth, has become oft-quoted: “Some people go through life and others grow through life.”
How should you grow? Through authenticity.
“If you think something is missing in your life, it is probably you,” Holden says.
Ready or not, start now.
“The ego is never fully ready for what your soul wants to do,” Holden says.
“Shift Happens” is one of my favorite books because of its simple, actionable message. I highly recommend it, along with the previous books I’ve written about: “Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer, and Brendon Burchard’s “The Charge.”
Photo: Robert Holden