Excerpt and adaptation from the book When Did You Die? 8 Steps to Stop Dying Every Day and Start Waking Up
Do you remember being a little kid and dancing to the song “The Hokey Pokey,” putting different parts of yourself into it and then being asked to “put your whole self in?” Remember how good it felt to shake your body and turn around? You were present, alive and awake! Isn’t that what life is all about?
You put your whole self in! This really is what life is all about — but why do so few of us put our whole selves in?
When we are children we innately live in the moment by putting our whole selves in. I remember a number of years ago when I visited a friend of mine. A 4-year-old child asked me to dance with her. I got on my knees so we could be closer to the same height and we proceeded to dance. We were pretending to be Tom and Sally out for the evening immersed in this beautiful dance.
Each time we completed the song, Kayleigh would say, “Let’s do it again!”
Without hesitation, she was putting her whole self in. By this point, my knees were having thoughts of their own and were longing for this experience to be behind us. The next morning I asked Kayleigh if she would like to play the part of Tom and Sally and dance some more — and she didn’t connect at all with what I was saying. To her, that experience was yesterday, when it happened. It was not significant any more, nor was it relevant. It was an experience that was behind her.
She had put her whole self in the day before and had no reason to recall it nor relive it again.
This is the way we naturally are destined and designed to be in our day-to day-lives. We are literally meant to go from experience to experience and put our whole selves in. Yet, what happens is that most of us are walking through life disconnected and drained and rarely present for what is occurring NOW. We are toting all of the past on our backs and shoulders, recalling all the Toms and Sallys in our lives who have either wronged us, shamed us or didn’t do it right. We continue to dance through each day of life with all this weight on our hearts and minds, while not being able to be truly impassioned and energized in this day and this moment.
So what needs to happen for us to make the shift?
Decide now, today, this moment, that with every encounter you are going to put your whole self in. If you are at a restaurant with friends, put your phone away. If you are going on your first date, then be you and share who you really are rather than holding back and editing most of the things you share. And if you are facing a fear, truly face it rather than replace it — and keep walking forward in the direction of your life.
Put your whole self in. As you get into this practice and it becomes habit, three things will occur.
- You will have more energy — There’s a story of a guy riding a bicycle up hill and he is really struggling. What he doesn’t realize is that he is driving with his brakes on. The energy it is taking for him to move forward while at the same time “being locked in place” is likened to a person who wants to move forward yet is holding on to past sorrow, or the people they perceive to have done harm against them, or energies of regret and disappointment.
- You will be more empowered — Putting your whole self in the moment requires a practice of being able to say who you are and be what you feel. If you are committed to being a person who does not carry around past luggage from yesterday, then you will be able to travel lightly as you go from place to place and person to person, for you are being true to yourself. Just the simple and profound commitment to speak and live the real you will change your energy level dramatically.
- Freedom is gifted to you and to others — You are able to truly put your whole self in first and not wait until you turn yourself around, just like the song goes. When you put your whole self in and allow your energy to change, an amazing and incredible thing happens: You feel better, you like the feelings and thoughts you are having, and you have people saying to you all the time, “How do you have so much energy?” The wonder of this is what you can do with this energy. You are able to give others in your life permission to do the same. You begin to see them as whole rather than broken, possible instead of impossible, and life becomes a new playing field. You wake up one morning and you are truly free from your own self-bondage.
Your inner dialogue moves from being a thought into a feeling and finally a realization: Your whole self. You begin to measure it daily in your work, with your families and loved ones, with the moments of silence and retreat you give yourself.
Begin this amazing, enlightening practice. Affirm before every event: I am putting my whole self in! Reflect at the end of the day, “Did I do it? Did I put my whole self in?” If not, consider “how can I make more of an effort tomorrow?”
This is your moment — begin now. Put your whole self in! Be Life!