In these current times it has become difficult to navigate outlives forward safely and at the same time ground ourselves with purpose. We can start by looking for what may be holding our mindsets back.

It is important to find out what one big thing is holding you back. Everyone has something. For example, it may be an old relationship or a dead end job. Do you know what’s yours?

Usually, when you know what it is and when you get rid of it, all the other small things (like doubts or fear) get out of your way much easier. So ask yourself this, if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? Got it? There you go. That’s the one thing you should work the hardest on. Don’t worry if you’re having trouble locating that one thing. Just set aside some time and look within.

Look deeply. For most of us, fear – in all its forms, from slight hesitations to debilitating anxieties is so present it feels normal. We have the remarkable ability to excise irrational fear from our lives – and that practice is as simple as it is life-changing. Fear is powerful enough to keep us from achieving our goals and living our best lives. It feeds stagnation and keeps us from taking advantage of opportunities. Many people are living in the self-made prisons of their own fears. A life lived without fear is not only something we all deserve, it is something that is completely possible for all of us, without exception. We don’t want to simply tolerate our fears – we want to eliminate them.

As I see it, there are three types of fear: Illogical fear, healthy fear, and real fear—and the latter two are helpful. Healthy fear helps us discern safe situations from dangerous ones. It is a gift given to all of us, and typically manifests as a visceral, instinctual response. This is the type of fear we need for our survival and protection. For example, if you are standing on a high ledge, healthy fear kicks in and cautions you to step back. It keeps you from falling off the cliff in the same way it keeps you from placing your hand too close to a flame. This fear response arises from the physical world and warns us of actual danger.

Real fear is also based in reality but it is not the same as healthy fear – it’s not based on physical danger. Examples would be the fear of losing the people we love most, never achieving our dreams and aspirations, or even the fear of our own death. This fear exists in the truth that life is a terminal condition, and it’s based on something that is irrefutably real: Everything we do and everything we are has an expiration date. These manifestations of real fear may be existential, but they are just as valid because they are associated with real events like death, change, and pain.

This fear can motivate us to grow, to push past our comfort zones, and to transform. The understanding that life is impermanent may be scary at times, but it is also fuels some of our greatest achievements and most powerful relationships.

We have come into this world to grow and to make a positive impact on the world. Our inherent nature is at odds with growth – we tend to want to stay in our comfort zones. But that is not the realm in which we ultimately want to live: In order to transform ourselves and reach our greatest potential, we need to embrace discomfort. If we always seek comfort first, we miss the purpose for which we came into this world. Through the application and embodiment of the wisdom of Buddhism, we come to understand that challenges are opportunities for growth. It is through life’s challenges that we find its greatest gifts, but we need to know how to look for them, and, more importantly, appreciate them. Often we are faced with these challenges in pursuit of our most passionate goals, and fear is what keeps us from realizing and actualizing those goals.

Embrace your fear for its the only way to understand it. Use your fear to move forward and with each step you gain a greater understanding of not only your own fears but the fears of others and a compassion to move forward together.

Peace and Love, Jim

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