What is a meaningful life to you? Melbourne's ever-inspiring Kate James shares her thoughts.
By Amy Crawford
Yesterday afternoon I decided to take some time out from my ever-growing to do list to listen to a recording of a truly inspiring talk given by Kate James at the Melbourne launch of Soul Sessions in February. You may recall I shared my notes from a fabulous talk by Duncan Peak, founder of Power Living Australia following that event. You can find that post and information around Soul Sessions here.
Kate, founder of Total Balance and a highly respected coach, meditation teacher and author spoke about what it is to live a meaningful life. Her thoughts resonated with me greatly so I have decided to share these notes with you today in the belief that they will provide inspiration to many. Thank you in advance Kate!
Three principles to living a meaningful life.
Living a meaningful life has a different meaning for everyone. At a personal level Kate has come up with three principles that she would call living a meaningful or creative life. The first of those is living mindfully, being in the present moment. The second is to live authentically - being true, living from the heart, really thinking about what matters to you and not what others expect from you. This is about living your truth, total honesty. The final principle is about being connected to yourself and what you do and from that place connecting with others in a way that is real and not superficial.
Two types of creativity.
Kate coaches clients to learn what it means to live a creative life in their day to day. She touches on two types of creativity, the first is what she classifies as ‘big C creativity’ - that is, you express yourself in a traditionally creative way as an artist, or a musician for example.The second, she classifies as ‘small C creativity.' This is about bringing something to life in the world, whatever that means to you and there is no pressure in this form of creativity. Just doing that one thing which you enjoy can open up your world to a whole host of other things e.g. building a herb garden or planning a new recipe. It is important here that we recognise that it isn’t about the outcome, it’s about bringing you into the moment thus creating mindfulness.
Meditation as a tool to access creativity.
Meditation teaches you to be still, to 'be', rather than to 'do'. It brings you into that state of stillness. One of the best ways to do this is to meditate or to daydream, make time to do nothing. In doing so we start to observe our thoughts which are often creative. When we are busy filling the space with so much noise we don’t capture these creative thoughts. We get in touch with our intuition when we mediate or simply walking through nature. The space between wakefulness and sleep is very similar.
Getting our creative hat on.
Trying something creative is another way to access your creative self. The more we are creative, the more creative we become. This can be truly fulfilling and can help expand those areas where you are naturally creative. Creativity feeds creativity - you just need to start!
Kate spoke at length about daydreaming. As children we were told that daydreaming was wrong however daydreaming is about allowing you room to think of things in a different way - being open, making time for stillness. When we are being creative we don’t control the outcome. For people who are in a job they don’t love Kate recommends they take on a project that allows them to explore their creative side.
The top 5 regrets of the dying.
Kate spoke about Australian palliative nurse Bronnie Ware who wrote about the top 5 regrets of dying. The top regret was "I wish I had the courage to life a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me." It was stressed that we need to think about who we are being in our lives and then what we should be doing will come. This is a vital internal conversation. The remaining regrets were as follows: "I wish I hadn't worked so hard"; "I wish I had the courage to express my feelings"; "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends"; and finally "I wish I had let myself be happier."
Transitional periods between jobs.
Kate stresses that you need to understand what your unique gifts are - what is it that you do well, that which you don’t even consider you do well. Our greatest strengths are what we love doing so look for things you do naturally well and explore those. Making the transition to a new career or job is not black and white and can be very difficult - you might have a huge mortgage, it may not be the time to make this change. Kate recommends instead pursuing these strengths with a hobby - do something outside of work whilst you earn the money you need and enjoy the creativity that may lead to something much bigger. Ask yourself - who am I being in the world, am I exploring my greatest talents? Am I bringing them to life? Am I unhappy because I am not being real? It may simply come back to authenticity. If you shift your life just 2 or 3 degrees your life could become very different. You need to have a very honest conversation with yourself and possibly those around you. Be courageous enough to speak your truth, be your truth.
The benefits or shifts Kate hears from her clients embracing their creativity.
People feel more aligned with their values. They ask themselves how do I want to live my life? With courage? Authenticity? Start by looking at where the gaps are and look at practical action steps you can take. It is the tiny things in life that make a difference, that have a compounding effect. For example getting up 20 minutes earlier every day to meditate - over time it compounds to big differences in your life. It's the small things we need to focus on. It's not about transforming your life over night, just small steps. The impact is that people feel happier - when you are being true and real you are more content. Be real in the world, that way you won’t feel like an impostor.
The Create a Life you Love eCourse and a generous offer!
For lucky THI subscribers only, Kate has generously offered her fabulous 8 week Create a Life You Love eCourse at a reduced price. This course represents a great opportunity to connect with like-minded people as you begin to make positive steps to change your life. Simply click on the link and enter the promo code 'holistic'. Kate is also doing a free call next Tuesday 26th March at 7.30pm entitled 5 Steps to Happiness. Click on the link to register!