21 Apr Space, Sweetness and Structure
We’re so excited that you’re going to be joining us for 9-weeks of strategic and heart centered action to create a meaningful life.
For years, people have been asking us how we do it. Starting in our 20s, we launched several successful businesses promoting body-mind wellness, including private healthcare practices, three spas, online courses, a magazine, a book, a café, and a company that makes body care products and herbal tinctures. Meanwhile, we have an ecstatic marriage, a light work week, we spend lots of time with our kids and pets, and we have as much fun as possible.
We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we’ve learned a few things along the way. In particular, we’ve discovered that as important as it to teach people things like healthy eating and stretching, most folks need at least as much instruction in putting together a balanced and satisfying life.
When we realized we wanted to help others structure their lives, we talked to many friends and clients and the majority expressed that they felt far from achieving the life of their dreams. When we asked what they were doing to make their dreams come true, we found that most weren’t actively pursuing them.
To begin with, almost no one was clear about what their dreams actually were. They had lost touch with them after deciding (probably unconsciously and long ago) that it’s unrealistic to want an amazing or magical life. Some had even convinced themselves that it was more mature to expect lots of compromises and to learn to be content with whatever hand you’re dealt. But, they weren’t content. They had forgotten what they really wanted out of life or denied that they wanted anything different than what they had.
Many claimed they weren’t pursuing big dreams because they believed this would mean working like a dog and being unhappy. They felt that unless someone was superhuman, the only way to succeed was by sacrificing the enjoyment of life and perhaps losing your soul.
So, what were these folks doing in their free time if not making progress on their goals? Perhaps having fun, being in nature, and engaging in creative projects? Well, no. No, in fact, most felt that not only were they failing to reach their goals, but also that they weren’t making the time to cook, to stretch, to breathe, or to do other soul-nourishing self-care activities that they knew were important.
Those who had chosen to bite the bullet and put their noses to the grindstone in pursuit of their dreams tended to unwittingly ensure that they were unhappy because of how deeply enrolled they were in the belief that achievement demanded sacrifice. The things that make life sweet were often the first to go.
Finally, nearly everyone – whether actively pursuing their dreams or not – felt busy. Too busy. Not just because of their work, but because of their immersion in a relentless data stream that engages them in the job of perpetually checking in and keeping tabs on an endless volume of information. For those who believe they’re not doing enough, it offers a way to feel more busy, but because it’s unceasing, it comes to feel like an obligation. However much time and energy they devote to it, it never feels truly gratifying or productive.
We believe that balance is possible – even in the face of chaos.
And we believe that you can – you must – do the good-feeling, soul-nourishing, body-fortifying activities even while you pursue your dreams. We put these practices under the general heading we call Sweetness. Sweetness not only makes life more satisfying, it also makes us stronger and more resilient.
If you feed your life, your body, and your soul, you become more effective at shaping this life however you choose. If you fill your life with this sweetness, you bring yourself many steps closer to the life of your dreams, regardless of the outcome of any particular goal. If your goals don’t materialize, at least you haven’t spent years of your life immersed in work with little to show for it. No, just the opposite: you will have spent the time doing meaningful work, living your purpose, treating yourself well, enjoying the world, and serving your species. It doesn’t get much better than that.
And when you do achieve your dreams, if you’ve been feeding your soul and growing all the while, you’ll be better able to assimilate the new changes in a healthy way.
While integrating more sweetness adds thrust to our dreams (and even brings our current circumstances closer to our dream life) we knew from coaching others that the biggest hindrance to achievement was problems with structure. They either didn’t know how or never got around to building a structure to get them from point A to point B. Some resisted structure because they seemed to equate it with restriction or conformity. Others had learned about “manifesting” concepts, such as the Law of Attraction, and took this to mean that structure and work are needless or even misguided.
When we looked at the structures people had in place, we found that without much training in life architecture, they were often unclear about how to build stable structures that would get them to their dreams. Some structures were like a bridge made of clothesline suspended over a canyon – they seemed to span the distance, but lacked support. Making it across would depend on a massive amount of personal effort, focus, and luck. Other structures were more like a concrete pipe over a chasm – sturdier to walk through but at the expense of any enjoyment of the scenery. Still other structures were like complicated tangles of trusses, cables, and parapets – more likely to get the traveler lost and confused than to their destination.
We noticed that those who avoided structure weren’t as free and unfettered as they would have liked. Instead, they often felt scattered and preoccupied, as if they were juggling all the ideas and tasks that they weren’t building into a plan. We wondered if the reason for their resisting Structure was that it wasn’t married to sweetness; Structure without sweetness could feel cold and meaningless to people, like striving for advancement in a factory run by robots.
We also observed an unusual trend toward over-structured lives, even among people who seemed to have very little going on. It was as if the structure developed independently of a guiding vision – structure for the sake of structure – with very little breathing room. Both the desire to eschew structure and the trend toward hyper-structure highlighted the necessity of Space.
Space is one of those things we tend not to value until it’s been missing for a while. Few people would identify it as a priority, and yet, it’s an essential factor in a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life. Without space, there is no perspective or clarity. Imagine there’s a large mural painted on the side of a building, but because the adjacent building is just a foot away, you have to stand in a tight alley in order to look at it, so you’re only able to see one small section at a time. This is how we view our lives when space is lacking. Space allows structure to breathe.
Space is the crucible in which sweetness and structure interact to yield a life that feels inspired, meaningful, and fun. Through our background in Asian philosophy, we both came to appreciate the preeminence of the “emptiness” from which everything is born. In Taoism, it is called Wuji, the limitless, boundless, or most literally, the non-polar. That is, it’s where our expanded consciousness resides, which isn’t polarized, doesn’t need to take a position, and is simply open. In Buddhism, it is Sunyata – emptiness, openness, or spaciousness – the space in which the soul is unconfined by the mind. In Ayurveda, it is Akasha – space or ether – the origin and essence of the entire material world.
Alignment and healing can’t occur without the openness that space provides. Sweetness needs space in order to be rooted in authenticity and to penetrate, engage, and feed the deepest parts of ourselves. And space is the solution to our addiction to the data stream which attaches us to our devices and disconnects us from the magic of the natural world around us.
Together, structure, space, and sweetness are the underpinning of this course.