Extraordinary Misconceptions

Today I want to address a couple of common misconceptions.

Extraordinary living is not just for artists.
Yep, it’s true. You don’t need to understand Michelangelo’s methods for painting The Sistine Chapel or how to DIY your way out of any death defying situation, to be able to live extraordinarily.

Extraordinary living is not just for entrepreneurs.
Yep, it’s true. You don’t need to be able to break down Google’s methodology or outwit Mark Cuban on Shark Tank to live extraordinarily.

Let’s review our definition for extraordinary living shall we?
“A Rare Existence, or extraordinary living, means to live the life you are meant to live regardless of risk, difficulty, opinion of others, weaknesses, or failures. This involves knowing yourself WELL, pursuing your passions, overcoming your fears, and working hard at all you do.”

See that? Living the life YOU are meant to live! Maybe I should add in “regardless of…. artistic abilities, entrepreneurial visions, how many kids you have, what your income level is, how much freedom you have, if you like eggnog or not, what religion you are, who you voted for, whether or not Modern Family is your favorite TV show, if you are pro Microsoft or pro Apple (OK well maybe this one DOES matter), or what defines the extraordinary lives by others around you”.

As you can see, an extraordinary life is for everyone who chooses to pursue it.
Living extraordinarily means understanding YOU and living the way YOU are meant to live. That’s the extraordinary part. The fact that you don’t choose to live the way everyone around you does. The fact that you understand that you have a purpose to seek out. The fact that you risk what others aren’t willing to risk to uncover and fulfill that purpose. That is a Rare Existence. And that is quite extraordinary.

So please don’t think extraordinary living isn’t for you.
If you find yourself thinking that you’re just not cut out for it, put down that McMuffin you’re eating (or whatever you’re doing) and return to this post to remind you of the truth! Having an extraordinary life IS your choice! It may be hard, it may (will) take years to develop, and you may have to take smaller steps than you like, but don’t surrender to the idea that you’re meant for nothing more than ordinary!

It’s time to let the truth win out!
We all need a little help fighting the lies from time to time so… you’re welcome!

Lie: I’m too boring for an extraordinary life.
Truth: There is no official measure for boring, you are just comparing yourself to people who have completely different roles in life than you do! No matter how boring you may feel, you have the capability to choose to do something extraordinary!

Lie: I have too many kids to pursue anything in life other than a nap.
Truth: See my post, The Extraordinary Family Life, to help you figure this truth out!

Lie: I’m not talented enough to live an extraordinary life.
Truth: Everyone has a unique set of skills/talents/experiences that make them who they are and that give them their purpose. Your talents may be different than others, but you do have some! My post, Discovering Who You Are, will help you figure out how the things about you all come together to help you serve your role in the world!

Lie: I like popular stuff (chocolate, Disneyland, good weather, etc) so I’m too much like everyone else to be extraordinary.
Truth: Popular stuff is popular for a reason! It doesn’t say anything about you if you do like it or don’t like it, it’s just good!

Lie: I don’t understand the answers to the questions in LOST so I must be stupid.
Truth: There were no answers to the questions in LOST so don’t worry about it.

Lie: I’m too focused on putting out daily fires to focus on moving forward.
Truth: See my post, Baby steps.. yes, that’s a real thing, to help you with this one.

Lie: I don’t know what lmao, yolo, or NPH (hint: Doogie) mean so I must be too old fashioned to do anything new.
Truth: So you’ll loose at a game of Scene it: Pop Culture Edition? So what? That doesn’t mean you don’t have other valuable skills that may have nothing to do with new fangled technology, the hottest “it” couple, or the wrong way for men to wear half shirts (IS there a right way really?).

Lie: I don’t know what I’m meant for, so it must be nothing.
Truth: It takes most people quite a while to figure this out. See my post, Don’t Expect to Find the Answers in a Day, for encouragement about this because it’s so worth the effort to figure it out!

Lie: Too many people depend on me so I can’t do anything risky or out of the ordinary.
Truth: People need you to be who you are meant to be, above all else. Not convinced? Read my post, Is Extraordinary Living Selfish.

Out of excuses? Good. Now focus on the identifying and living out the life you were meant to live!

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Give them something (good) to remember you by (a project)

I was recently asked the question…

“What do you want to be admired for?”

I had a lot of fun answering this question. You see, the questioner didn’t specify that you had to already be doing these things you want to be remembered for… just that it would be freaking amazing if people actually said these things about you! As I was about to head off in the direction of “sensational lion tamer, the best in her field” and “the most compassionate miracle producing doctor I’ve seen yet”, I decided it would probably be more helpful if I took a slightly more realistic approach.

The question hiding underneath this question is, “what are your core values?”

What things do I really think are important in life? Acne free skin? Check. Dogs with fresh breathe? Check. There are LOTS of things that are important to me! This list is going to be long, starting with either free shipping from Amazon or fat free fro-yo (I can’t decide which is more significant to me).

And now you see why you can’t simply ask what my core values are… that’s just too big of a question. Asking what I want to be admired for is a great way of narrowing it down… as long as you remember to clarify that we are talking about REALISTIC things so I don’t start muttering something about how much people love the glittery aqua and periwinkle colored scales on my beautiful mermaid tail.

So you think you already know your core values do you?

Well do you really? Can you distinguish between your parents values, your community’s values, your favorite TV show character’s values? Not to mention your OWN values? I’m telling you it’s so much harder than you think when you’re wondering, “now did Ross and Rachel decide it IS okay to sleep with someone else when you’re on a break or not?”, or “did my dad say pot’s okay only if you’re at Woodstock? Or was it only if you’re 65 with back pain? I can’t remember.”. I’m telling you, core values can be a very convoluted and confusing thing in this day and age!

Now do the work.

Since I have now given you the ever important question that you need to be asking yourself to figure out your core values, go ahead and give it a shot! Identifying your core values is the first step to figuring out what your extraordinary word is… which of course is the first step to figuring out what your extraordinary life should consist of! Well actually, your values should be the starting place for anything at all in any kind of life, really! So taking the time to make your core values concrete and clear enough that you are able to actually write them out, might be a more important step in your life than you might think!

Now grab your Rare Existence notebook – that you of course started right when I told you to – and a pencil (or keyboard, you know what I mean) and start a list of answers to the question… “What do I want to be admired for?” and see what you come up with! After that, see if you can pull general concepts from what you listed and turn them into a real list of your own personal core values that you want to strive to live by… so that they actually will be things people will admire and remember about you long after you’re gone.

 

P.S. If you want to take it a step further, look at your list of values and see if you can draw out your extraordinary word from it!

*If you want more help uncovering your values, beliefs and identity’s check out some of the other projects!

Discovering who you are (a project)

Alright, enough rambling from me about the concept of identity, it’s time for you to do some muttering to yourself as well (so maybe you shouldn’t do this while sitting at your desk at work or in the middle of Starbucks).  You know how we talked about the importance of writing down your thoughts during this process? Well this is one of those times. This will be GREAT material to build from in the future, so make sure you have it down somewhere so you can reference it later.
The answers to these questions aren’t as important as the in-depth thinking process involved in getting the answers. These are meant to give you a springboard to start thinking from. Internal reflection is way important for this journey and this is just the beginning of your practice!

And away we go!!!!!!!

Talents and skills
1. What have people in your life told you that you are good at (both in the past and recently)?
2. What do you think you are good at?
3. Is there anything you feel exhilarated when doing?
4. What things do you want to learn more about or get better at?

Passions and favorites
1. What is your favorite things to work with out of the following: people, animals, nature, technology, your hands.
2. What things are the most likely to make you cry from sadness?
3. Does anything make you cry from happiness?  What is it?
4. What makes you the angriest?
5. What are your pet peeves?
6. List 10 small things that make you happy (not that hard: my list includes coffee, hot pink nail polish, and Pinterest! I’m sure many of you have a profile on some site that already has a list like this.).

Experiences
1.  What was the best day of your life?
2.  What’s one thing that made you feel exhilarated the first time you tried it?
3.  What time period in your life do you remember being the happiest?
4.  List 5 things that were the basis for why you were so happy during the period listed in #3.
5.  List 3 things you’ve done in your life that you were proud of.

Bringing it all together
1.  Are there any words or phrases you repeated a lot?
2.  Are there any similar locations?
3.  Are there any similar types of people? (i.e. kids, elderly, handicapped, injured, etc., etc).
4.  Any other trends you notice in your previous answers?
5.  From what you know about yourself currently, sum up your personality, style, and character in one paragraph.

This is a small taste of a self identification exercise! I have many more to come for you later!  If you need more right now, there are all kinds of personality tests you can take out there!  The only one I’ve done myself that I liked much was the Myers-Briggs test but look for one you think you’d like yourself if you need more help!

What do you think? Did these questions help get your thinking juices flowing?

A Culture of Identity Chaos

This may be a statement full of youthful ignorance, but I really believe that my generation is facing something that hasn’t been an issue before (or at least it hasn’t been an issue during the lifespan of all our currently living relatives… who knows, maybe ancient Greece dealt with it or something).  Here’s the thing… back in the “olden” days of America, your world was pretty small (compared to today when you can live in the U.S. yet see and talk to people in India in real time, or even have colleagues who work alongside you from Malaysia!).  Long gone are the days when you chose between the 3 factories in your town, got a job there, bought a house nearby, and worked there until retirement because you knew your company would take care of you.  Maybe that’s why people call it the “simpler times”. Ever heard of a pension?  Some of my younger readers maybe haven’t because they are not reality anymore.  Now, we literally have every single choice in the world.  Many jobs enable you to live or move to anywhere in the world, force you to compete with the best of the best worldwide (rather than with only the people who live in your small town), or even enable you to have 2 or 3 jobs simultaneously because each requires just a few hours of computer time a day (so much for factoring in commuting time!).

Aside from the globalization of the workforce, the biggest change I’m talking about here is the fact that there is little incentive for a company to keep you on board for very long.

They can hire someone in another country to do it cheaper or better. And there is even less reason for a person to choose to remain at their current jobs because they too have world wide options and have no promise of a rewarding for dedicating their entire life to one company.

Not to mention in the olden days, your job really was a major part of who you were and what defined you. 

For example, my grandpa was the “telephone guy” and he climbed up telephone poles everyday for 25+ years of his life.  He owned a house in a certain neighborhood that was near his work, his friends were often co-workers, and his view of the world  was shaped by the world that surrounded him every day during those 25 + years.  It wasn’t until retirement that he was faced with choices about who he was and what he wanted to become.  He had his pension and he could’ve happily chilled for many years of his life, which I’m assuming he probably tried… only it didn’t last long because even to this day he can’t still still for more than 3 minutes at a time… and then big questions began.  (By the way, he eventually became a pilot and he loved it!)

So what does it mean when we have a culture who’s not nearly as limited in our geography, social network, or culture as we were in the past?

The question of your identity has an entire world of new options open to it!  I’m not even going to get into the fact that we have access to all the information, talents, entertainment, etc. etc. worldwide- because I’m sure you’ve heard enough “information overload” rants to last a lifetime- but that is a part of all this as well. Also take into account that the few parts of your identity that are still defined by your job are completely unstable because our jobs are in constant flux!  We as individuals in this culture, are in a constant state of reinventing ourselves. After all, I was a counseling student, then a photographer, and now a writer, right?! That’s not counting all the other non-career jobs I’ve had… and I’m not even 30 years old yet!  (I’ve heard it said that the average length of time an American stays at a job is 3-5 years and that fluctuates depending on the person’s age). The questions that my grandpa dealt with when he retired are now being faced by people about every 3 years!  How are we ever supposed to feel at rest or connected- either to ourselves or to a community- how will we ever really know ourselves when our entire skill set, knowledge base, and daily experiences and routines change every few years?  My grandpa knew the art of climbing telephone poles REALLY well.  What are you good at?  Have you ever worked at something long enough to even find out? Even if you found something you were good at and enjoyed, did you get bored because you knew there was something new and different waiting just around the corner for you?

Okay, okay I’m getting WAY ahead of myself.  I’m just trying to give you a taste of the overwhelming mix of factors go into our identity distress at this current point in time.  There are countless discussions and social commentaries that we could go on and on about the causes/effects, pros/cons, etc of this issue and I am by no means about to tackle them all right now!  However, you are always free to start up a discussion on this (or anything else related to extraordinary living) by posting questions for other readers to answer on the Rare Existence Facebook wall!

The bottom line is that we have no idea who we are, and yet we are constantly being forced to try and find out…. and this leads to crazy cases of identity confusion! 

And that can be VERY frustrating!  I’m pretty sure this is actually the very reason that this entire Rare Existence blog is here. I’ve had countless friends who have been hardcore struggling with these issues for the past few years and it has been killing me that I can’t just give them the answers.  This blog is here due to my desire to help them and people like them who just feel stuck in their lives, while facing an overwhelming world of possibilities, and have absolutely no idea where to go from here.  It sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Having limitless choices, but feeling stuck?  That’s why it’s so freaking frustrating!  You feel like a moron, or at least slightly schizo in need of some serious counseling, when in reality I believe you are actually just another member of the masses.

Now that I think about it, I think there is a very good chance that many of you have been getting pretty annoyed as you’ve followed my blog so far.

I sit up here preaching, “change your life, do things differently!” etc., etc. and you are just sighing and saying “again?!  I have no idea who I am or what I want and you are asking me to reinvent my already undefined self AGAIN?!”  My only reply to that is an ever so tentative and slightly apologetic, “um, yes?” But don’t worry, I’m not just going to sit up on my soap box and expect you to figure out all by yourself how to do this.  The next few blogs are intended to help you sort through your identity chaos.  If you feel really secure and defined in your identity, first of all give me your secret, second of all don’t feel that this doesn’t apply to you because there’s a good chance it will apply the next time you choose or are forced to reinvent yourself.