Doing What Comes Naturally

One of the most salient aspects of the re-booting process is figuring out who we want to be and how we want to live in lieu of whatever unsatisfactory situation in which we currently find ourselves. Sometimes, knowing which direction to go can be a whole lot harder than knowing what we don’t want. A counselor once termed such feelings as going forward values versus going away values. A great example of this is getting into a cab and telling the driver, “Well, I don’t want to go to the zoo.” Ok, but where do you want to go?

I talk to people nearly everyday who don’t know what they want—it’s not, necessarily, that they’re miserable, but life has taken on a sort of drifting quality or they’ve been so busy with the tasks at hand that they’ve lost sight of their passion. Their unabashed enthusiasm for life feels like something that happened to someone else a long time ago, in a land far away. They don’t know what they want to do, they don’t know where they want to go, and, furthermore, they aren’t totally sure how connected they feel to the people in their lives—there’s a whole lot of private confusion going on. Nobody’s life is perfect, of course, and we all feel empty from time to time—attending family gatherings we dread, participating in activities that we consider a waste of time, or occasionally cobbling together friendships that are a little boring—sometimes you just gotta lump it. We do this because it’s better than nothing…

When trying to figure out what to do when you don’t know what it is you really want, I recommend going back to those particular activities or interests that captivate you, where you can happily spend hours without noticing the time. I like to think of them as organic to us. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Doing what comes naturally. The problem is that, all too often, we run down or minimize our innate talents. I know I certainly have. I used to believe that if it came easily to me, it couldn’t be truly valuable or unusual—what other people did was awesome and impressive, but me? Not so much. When people run themselves or their interests down this way, it often stems from a fear of being ridiculed or somehow proven to be not so talented, after all. By pretending we’re not interested in, say, Civil War reenactments or new age philosophy or riding a unicycle, we can protect ourselves from anticipated derision. It’s like we’re afraid to own a part of ourselves. Sound familiar?

What comes naturally to you? What makes you feel enthusiastic? When was the last time you did that thing? Do you remember how great you felt?


The more you can reintroduce these happy influences into your day or week, the better off you will be—just think of the spillover positive energy that you’ll have to share with your spouse and kids! When I went to school back in Texas, I saw a ball cap that read, “My wife said I had to choose between her or hunting. I’m sure gonna miss her.” (The font on the cap was small.) This sentiment continues to amuse me, and goes to serve my point. Now, ultimatums aside, isn’t our hunter fortunate to have an activity he liked that much? Do you?

I’ll take this line of thinking a step further: forging friendships with people we really like. I don’t know about you, but I don’t meet people everyday (or year) who inspire me to think, “Wow! I’d really like to know them better.” It just doesn’t happen—and I meet people pretty easily. And, even when we do meet such people, more often than not because lives are disparate and busy, we let that connection drop. It takes a certain amount of time and courage to offer up one’s friendship. While it’s certainly true that admiration is not always equally felt, what I can confidently say is that chemistry can’t be faked. Doesn’t matter whether its platonic or romantic—when two adults resonate, it’s genuine. It’s also rare.

Who was the last person that you met who had a spark that caught your attention? Did you do anything about it? Are they your friend today?

My point in this post is not for you to go away and mutter something about having no real friends or interests, my point is for you to remember that you do have these things! You have natural talents you’ve probably set aside and you’ve met people you were drawn to. Instead of saying how you’re too busy to do anything about it, why not give it a go, take that risk and see how much more energized you feel? If it provides any inspiration whatsoever, I will tell you that almost nothing energizes me as much as writing does. When I write, I am utterly absorbed and happy. The fact that I’ve taken the extra step of putting my writing out there for you to read, well, doing so takes courage. So does reaching out to someone and telling them, “I want to be your friend.” When people respond favorably, nothing makes me feel happier and more hopeful. I bet you could use more of that in your life, too.

Homework assignment: sometime this week, set aside 20 minutes to test out one of your ongoing interests; double points if you reach out to someone you haven’t seen in awhile. See how you feel…

 Civil War


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One Response to “Doing What Comes Naturally”

  1. Jim Patterson Says:

    Yes, I know that counselor too who talked about going forward versus going away values.

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