Dear John,

What keeps you on track to finding happiness and living through love each day? How do you avoid getting derailed with the stresses of life that surround us?

Continued from last week…

The best definition of love I’ve heard came from my experience at The Hoffman Process: love is what overflows from your cup when you decide to fill your cup first. This identifies two important principles of love. First, you have to fill yourself whole with self-love. If you are trying to serve from a cup that is not full, you will diminish yourself until your cup runs dry. Serving from an empty cup is the quickest way to resentment, martyrdom, and burnout. Second, the outward expression of your love is a reflection of how you love and treat yourself. When you authentically and wholeheartedly love yourself, you will do the same for others. You will do so from a place of abundance, needing nothing in return. You will love without conditions or expectations, which will keep you out of the roles of persecutor, victim, or savior – the three roles of the dreaded drama triangle (The Power of TED by David Emerald). You will also identify that the love you give yourself and others does not depend on others. You are your own wellspring of vitality and love.

Building a language and understanding of love, and joy, will help you to stay in alignment despite the obstacles that will come your way. There will always be obstacles and stress is inevitable. You will get derailed. There is no way around this; it is the grist of living a human life. Stress is integral to growth. You cannot have growth without stress or friction. Stress is what guides us to our growth edge, those uncomfortable places that we need to lean into and move through in order to expand our capacity and capabilities. There is always going to be stress in our lives, so learning how to deal with and lean into it is more important than practicing how to avoid it. There is a notable example of this that came from the Biosphere 2 constructed by the University of Arizona. Scientists were studying the viability of growing plants on other planets. They accounted for all variables except wind. Without wind, the trees grew taller, faster, but inevitably collapsed. Without the stress of the wind, the trees didn’t form “stress wood,” which strengthened their bases allowing them to grow taller, more resilient, and mature properly. Stress is integral to our own maturation, fortitude, and growth. The more we welcome it into our lives, instead of avoiding or resisting it, the smoother and quicker we can transition back to our abundant growth.

With the proper language to describe love, happiness, and joy, I have no doubts you can use them like stepping stones on your own personal journey. And, hopefully, by reframing stress and shifting your perspective, it will allow you to look at adversity, challenges, and obstacles in a new light. Life is always giving us opportunities – only you can choose to receive them or resist them.

With love and light,

John Moos, MD