Goals are great motivators and plans make good roadmaps—but to be a master, you have to be flexible and recognize when a route needs to be recalculated. The unexpected—call it serendipity, good fortune or dumb luck—can rise at any moment. From spontaneous conversations to unplanned endeavors, you get good at spotting opportunities out of the corner of your eye and jumping on them. Here, lessons from the masters and exercises to help you navigate the rapids of life.
Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for the moment that is to come.
Do you believe we make our own luck? Can you see how something from your past has prepared you to take advantage of a new opportunity?
82 is hot. 82 is fabulous.
When Maya Angelou says "so far," she's leaving the door open for the next adventure. What's your attitude toward aging? Do you think there's an age when the fun stops, when creativity and possibility stop? How could you challenge that opinion now?
I'm very leery of imposing philosophies on anything journalistic, because the minute you do, you've limited something.
Creativity is being open to possibilities, contradictions and the unexpected. Try this today: Be on the lookout for what really catches your attention. An overheard bit of conversation, the way light falls, a lyric, a news story—what do you find riveting? What does it make you feel or wonder? Take yourself seriously—this is your mind talking just to you.
When change comes galloping towards us, it's very natural to lash out and say, "No, I won't go in that direction." Fear is an instinct built into the human operating system. But when you feel that fear coming, you can calmly say, "Hello, I don't need you now. I'm not a caveman. I've got a higher intelligence I can put into place here."
Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It's being able to embrace our fear…and then to leap anyway.
The next step is to share your fear with other people. Intimacy is created when we're vulnerable with each other. When we're engaged in a big fat no to life—which all of us often are—we're too ashamed to tell other people, which means we miss out on our encouragers, our friends, our family and our mates who can help us get over the hump.
We also need the willingness to look at some things we don't want to look at about ourselves or what's going on in our lives. Sometimes we resist the future, because a part of us knows we'd have to make a big, honking change: Leave a job. Admit our marriage needs help.
I had knee surgery recently. I can't do a lot of the same things that I used to do. But my initial resistance—my unwillingness to accept that—kept the life lessons from being served to me. I've learned so much in the past year. That's true about every big unknown. Every change has the capacity to bring us enormous blessings. Even the worst things. Even huge loss. That faith—knowing that past the trauma, I will be served lessons, wisdom and blessings—is the key to approaching the unknown with a sense of fearless curiosity. Because fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It's being able to embrace our fear, to have a sense of humor about it. And then to leap anyway.
If you want to be more open to life's many shifts, the best thing you can do is to find your essence—your genuine, essential gift. You can't do what Diane Sawyer does. Only Diane Sawyer can. You can only do what you do. It may not be a world-changing thing, but it is yours to do, and it will change your world. So, find that.
This process will help you confront your resistance to change and to the unexpected. Every time you feel that no in you, get in touch with your most essential self. Tell her to lead you into the unknown. There are moments when we will feel pain, when something in us wants to expand and blossom, and we're holding it back. I so love the quote from Anaïs Nin: "And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." There's a risk to remaining tight and caught within our fears. There are times in our life when we want to break out. To choose the blossoming, come what may, is the recipe for a fully lived life. I'm not going to say "for happiness," because transformation can be hard and messy. But I'd choose that over the constrictions of not growing. —As told to Oprah.com's Jancee Dunn
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