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It seems like everyone and their mother has something to teach us about “finding balance,” and maybe you think you could get there too if only you could just cross off enough on the to-do list! Today I’m here to burst the balance bubble once and for all, because while we’ve been taught incessantly about what a balanced life should look like, we’ve never been told what it feels like.
What if we scrapped the whole thing? What if we stopped striving for something that doesn’t exist? What if we found a way to light ourselves up in an unbalanced way? Do we dare find harmony in a song we can write ourselves? Today I’m sharing some helpful tools to do just that. Take a deep, centering breath and decide what’s enough. Ready to begin?
Tiffany Han: Hey, Hey, welcome to The Tiffany Han Show, a podcast that teaches highly ambitious people how to have lives that feel as good on the inside as they look on the outside. If you are ready to dive into discovering delight in your life, starting today, be sure to check out my free five-day Radical Delight Kickstart over at tiffanyhan.com. And, while you're there, you can also find extended episode archives, show notes, and more. Thanks for being here. Now, onto the show.
Tiffany Han: Hey, Hey everyone. It's Tiffany. Welcome back to the Tiffany Han Show. Thank you for being here. Today, we are going to be talking about balance, but more specifically, we're going to be talking about; why trying to find balance, why seeking out balance, why putting so much pressure on yourself, myself, ourselves to have that perfect work-life balance, family, outside of the home life balance, me and them balance, all the things that we've tried to keep balance forever and ever.
We're going to be talking about why putting the pressure on ourselves to find that balance is a losing battle. What I want you to think about instead of balance, something that I find so much more helpful and expansive and open and possible than balance, and then how you can start tapping into that for yourself. So, I've got a whole little journey to take you on today, around and through and to the other side of this quest for balance.
Before we dive in, speaking of a quest for balance, I wanted to let you know that early-bird applications for my yearlong Grown-Up Gap Year program are opening up at the end of June, June 22nd. I'm so excited to be putting this program back out into the world. We only start once a year.
The program starts in October, but if you come in during the early-bird period, you'll get a cash discount. You'll get access to an extended payment plan. And, there are a couple of bonuses that you'll be able to dive into right away if you so choose.
So, if you are interested in that, you can click on the link in the show notes to find out a little bit more about Grown-Up Gap Year, and also get on that early-bird waitlist.
There is no obligation at all to get on the waitlist, but if you are on my regular email list, you will not be hearing about any of the special things that I have planned for my early-bird waitlist people that week, because I do have one special event happening and one little contest with actual prizes happening.
But again, that is a secret only for the people on the early-bird waitlist. So, you can click on the link in the show notes to get on that list. Now, y'all, let's dive in and talk about balance. The first thing that I want to do is give you full permission to stop beating yourself up if you have not yet found balance, right? Oh, y'all.
We have been fed and taught so many things about what a “good life” should look like. People aren't really talking about what it should feel like, but we have been taught so many things about what a good life should look like.
And, there's this perfect ideal out there that involves work, career, financial success, a home that looks a certain way, a family that looks a certain way, a romantic relationship or partnership that looks a certain way, a relationship with your body that looks a certain way, a way of taking care of yourself that looks a certain way, a way of moving through the world that looks a certain way.
And, it is this picture of effortless perfection, right? This picture of low maintenance, ‘I've got this. I can just handle it with a snap of my fingers, Mary Poppins-esque, everything falls into place. And, we're over here like, ‘oh, it's no big deal,’ right, the no big dealness.
The reality of being a human on this planet who has needs and ideas and wants and obligations and relationships and commitments really comes down to the opposite of effortless perfection, which is effort-filled imperfection. Now, it's easy to be like, ‘oh my God. Yeah, effort-filled imperfection.’ And, you know, there are all these tropes about, ‘oh, I'm a hot mess,’ and all of that.
And, isn't that so funny? But even that trope implies that there is another way one can be, is this episode all about how I'm saying, we all have no choice, but to be a hot mess? Kind of, stick with me, effortful imperfection, right?
Sometimes we think, okay, well, for this chapter that I'm in, I will accept that things are not balanced right now. I will accept that it cannot be effortlessly perfect as if the world has taught me my entire life that I need to be. And, I'm willing to say yes to effortful imperfection, as long as I can trust that it will eventually get me to a place where everything is fine. Everything is fixed. And then, I can have effortless perfection.
And, that's what we have to stop because the truth of the matter is the only way out there possible is effortful imperfection. Now, I am not saying like effortful, as in, you've got to work your fingers to the bone and you're never going to get anything to the point that you want it, right?
That is all-or-nothing thinking, saying that it's either that perfect ideal, right, that's one end of this spectrum, that effortless perfection. And then, the only other thing possible is that you might as well throw it all in the garbage and give up forever because it's always going to be awful.
Y’all, that's not what I'm saying, but I know how easy it is for our brains to ping-pong between two ends of a spectrum, completely ignoring everything in the middle. So, when I say effortful imperfection, here's what I mean by that. Effortful, all that means it doesn't mean bleeding all over the life effortful.
It means that we get to show up and we get to practice devotion to the things that matter most to us, we get to show up and be committed to the places in our lives where we find meaning. I don't know about you, but as someone who loves finding meaning and connection in all kinds of places, the list of where I'm finding meaning in my life is neither short nor complete.
So, I could write you a whole saga of where I'm finding meaning in my life. And then, tomorrow I might read something or see something or meet someone or experience something brand-new that also gives me meaning. And, can you see the problem that I'm queuing up here? I wonder if you're starting to see it.
When we seek out balance and when we practice trying to find that effortlessly perfect sense of balance, it usually requires that nothing new can come in. And, I am all for, y'all, nothing new obligation-wise coming in if we are already overloaded or feeling so wobbly. Absolutely.
And, this is something that we dive really deep into in Grown-Up Gap Year, because for so many of us, we're taught, ‘just keep saying yes to things; and eventually, you'll find the right commitment obligation that will then give you the feeling that you're after.’ And, what I do and what I want to teach in Grown-Up Gap Year is that we actually start from the opposite.
We start from, ‘how do you want to feel?’ We really start with that foundation of, what does your life feel like? What is it like to live in Radical Self-Belief? How do we make space for you to exist within all of the other pieces of your life? Right? How can we find meaning in our own experiences rather than just in doing for other people, other things, checklist, all of that?
And, how can you simultaneously find meaning in yourself and also in other people, right? Because again, it's not about never being in a relationship with other people. It's not about never having another commitment. It's about, how can you fully show up through and with all of it? Okay.
So, I think you can get on board with the idea that seeking out balance often for us means nothing new gets to come in, because if we're barely balanced with what we have, asterisk balance is unattainable and not even real. And, that's okay. We're remembering that. We're still talking about all the reasons why that, that means nothing new can come in, and that's not realistic either, right?
That is not-- I mean, there is a reason this podcast used to be called Raise Your Hand Say and Yes, is because we like to raise our hands and say, yes, we want to say yes. And, I still fully believe, y'all, that we can raise our hands and say yes to the things that we are deeply and intrinsically connected to from like a soul spiritual level. Yes.
I also know that there is some deep soul-searching that can happen to get really dialed into what those things are, which again, y'all, is exactly what we're doing over there in Grown-Up Gap Year if you want to get on that early-bird waitlist. So, there is this concept, this idea within our culture. Y'all have seen the pins, right, that say, “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce or something.”
It's entirely possible that I've pinned that in my life, because it sounds like, ‘oh yeah, well, Beyonce can do it, she only has 24 hours in a day too.’ Hah! And then, we forget about all of the things that Beyonce probably is not taking care of, that you or I, or other people are taking care of. There's this idea that the day is split up into 24 hours, and you work for eight hours, you have eight hours for play, yourself.
The rest of it, that could all be filled in, question mark, question, mark, question mark. And then, the third eight hours is for sleep. And, I also suspected that a lot of y'all, a lot of us are not getting eight hours of sleep. Maybe that works for you. I think for a lot of people, we could stand to use more sleep, right? We could--
I don't think anybody would say that's a bad thing for anybody's body, anybody's mental health, anybody's physical health, really. But if you are someone who feels every night like you are getting the requisite amount of sleep, Bravo! It is something that I am always trying to get closer to for myself.
So, 8, 8, 8, a little circle divided in into three at perfect triads should be good to go, right? Of course, it sounds really easy. Now, let's break that down. And, I want to also preface this with saying, I'm speaking generally here, that I know that for, anytime I say, “You have an eight-hour workday,” that there are a million variations possible for that.
Maybe somebody works part-time, maybe somebody works two or three jobs. Maybe somebody doesn't go to work every day, but they're home with young kids, and it feels relentless because young kids are needy for more than just eight hours in a day. Maybe someone's taking care of an adult, like an elderly parent or something like that.
And, they are like, ‘oh my God, it never actually stops.’ So, I do want to point out that as I dive into this, you know, we're talking about things generally and generically as examples. And, I know that everybody's situations, individual situations not only may vary, but probably do vary.
And, this also is a great time for me to just remind all of us that even wanting to seek out balance is a privilege because there are a lot of people in their lives who are barely getting by and don't even have time to think about balance. It's like, ‘what are you talking about? I just need to pay the power bill this month.’
And, just because it's a privilege to be able to think about these things doesn't mean that you're not allowed to think about these things, right? It can be both. It can both be a privilege and something worth diving into, especially because part of what happens in this never-ending quest for effortlessly perfect balance is that we completely burn ourselves out or run ourselves into the ground.
And then, we're not able to show up to anything that actually matters both individually, community-wise, globally, politically, all of it, right? And, if we are dependent on balance, being the precursor to actually being involved and engaged in our homes and our community and our lives and on our planet, y'all, we're never going to get there.
Okay. So, 8-8-8; eight hours for work, eight hours for self-life, eight hours for sleep, perfect work-life balance. But what we know is that even if you're only in the office for eight hours, let's say you're also commuting. Let's add another hour to that. And, you have to like take a lunch break, right?
So, all of a sudden, we've got 10 hours at work and six hours for self. Oh, but that commute time, you could also be productive and doing something for yourself, sure. Okay. You can, but also let's be clear. You, as humans, we are not robots. You cannot like squeeze and insert productivity into every empty space.
That is another road, straight to burnout, straight to disconnection, straight to living in a constant low-grade panic. Again, nobody wins. So, 10 hours for work, six hours for self, eight hours for sleep. And, I'm going to-- I'm going to leave eight hours for sleep. We're just going to put that on a shelf, [laughs] because ideally, we would all be sleeping for eight hours.
Now, you've got to get ready for work. Let's give that another, say, 30 minutes, if you're quick about it, right? 30 minutes to get ready for work, take a shower, get yourself dressed, out the door, all of that. All of a sudden, we're down to five and a half hours a day for that work-life balance.
Now, I could keep going. I could talk about chores. I could talk about emptying the dishwasher. I could talk about preparing food for yourself. I could talk about movement or exercise or downtime or spending time with people who matter to you, right?
I could talk about all of those like personal life maintenance things. And, we haven't even gotten into kids, committees, volunteer work, friends, family, birthday parties, weddings, school volunteer things, bedtime, getting other people showered and in the right clothes and the backpack pack for tomorrow.
And then, you've got to think about lunches and snacks. I mean, y'all, that five and a half hours goes so fast. Now, let's be clear. Still haven't talked about, right? We've talked about like life maintenance. We've talked about home obligation maintenance.
We have also not talked about yet: joy, delight, pleasure, restoration, rest, personal self-connection, just space to like be and let your mind wander and stare out a window or do things purely for the sake of them feeling good and enjoying yourself. Right? We haven't talked about the idea of like open, luxurious, gorgeous expanses of time.
And, I wonder why not? Because when, right, and I-- We're not in the podcast here, so stay with me because this is often the place where we think, ‘well, it's just a lost cause.’ And then, what happens when the idea of something different feels like a lost cause, we dive back into those unconscious automatic ways, which usually puts us back into the quest of effortlessly perfect balance, which doesn't exist, right?
Remember it doesn't exist. And, not only does it not exist, but there's one other thing that I haven't mentioned yet in this perfect 24-hour day balance quest thing that we've been taught. And, that is the current level of connectedness with which most of us spend our days, which most of us devote the moments of our day to.
And, by that, I mean the internet, Social Media push notifications, the phones that we carry around in our pockets, the way that we use scrolling as entertainment or as time-fillers. I recently listened to a really great episode of the, You're Wrong About Podcast with host Sarah Marshall.
She was in conversation with Anne Helen Petersen, who is a Culture writer. And, the episode was specifically about how email took over our lives. But I heard it at a time when I was simmering and working on putting together this episode about balance.
What they said just about our current culture of communication in general, reminded me so much of this bigger picture of how the search for balance is futile. So, here's what one of the things--
I will link to this episode in the show notes because it was great, but here's one of the things that Sarah Marshall said, “Normal people these days who are on any kind of social media are potentially living in active communication with thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of people who they can't see, touch, or be in the same space with, but whose attention is on them. It's literally impossible to meaningfully conceptualize that we're all living in a reality that our brains literally can't make real for us.”
And, at first, when I heard her say that, I was like, ‘well, that might be a little far-- Millions of people, like really?’ And, some people out there, have millions of followers, but/and when you think about social media in general, and we could group in here, opinion writers; we could group in here: media sources, news, Twitter, all of that.
When you think about the addition of like all of the people that I follow on social media and then my potential exposure to their followers, or all of the people who follow me and might be sharing something I'm working on and that the spider webbing out of that, it is a lot of people. It is a lot of people.
It is a lot of eyeballs on us. And y'all, I am not, you know-- I don't know if there's any way to not be living in some level of performance. This is something I'm obviously thinking about a lot during my Year of No, as I'm away from social media. And, also thinking about, is it, how do I, is it something that I want to ever come back to, as I've said before, who knows? I have no idea.
The year is still young and thinking about, if I were to go back, you know, we're told to be like their most authentic selves, but we're told to be our most “authentic selves” in a space where what is rewarded algorithmically is effortless perfection and balance, which we know does not exist. So, we are trying to both, be ourselves, but play this game. and y’all, again, that's impossible.
That is impossible. That is impossible. So, in this conversation, Anne Helen Petersen says in this time when we are ostensibly in communication with more people than ever, which I even feel being off social media, right?
Like, I still feel that. I still feel like there are so many sources out there in this time when we are ostensibly in communication with more people than ever, more people feel personally lonely, but also really isolated from the sort of strong ties that create a safety net.
And yeah, this is something that feels so, so important to underscore in thinking about the impossibility of balance, because we are hyper connected. We are also simultaneously lonely and isolated without the kinds of connections where we feel like we have support.
And so, balance then becomes this quest that is like a solo quest that we have to do all by ourselves. Again, again, y'all losing battle. It's a losing battle. It's not actually attainable. And, just in case you want to push back, things are going to get hopeful in a minute, trust me. We're going to turn--
We're going to turn this car around and drive it towards sunshine, y'all, but just in case you still are like, ‘I don’t know, I really feel like-- I really feel like balance is always thing I'm just so close. If I could just get a handle on this one more thing.’ [laughs] I know it. Y'all, I know it because you are a go-getter. You're ambitious, you're a high achiever. You are like, so infinitely capable of amazing things.
And so, for me to say, “Don't think about balance,” all you want to do now is think about balance. [laughs] I know. So, I am going to read you a quote that actually came from-- This was not anything about balance. This was a piece in The Atlantic, and it was called An Ode To Being Late by James Parker, who's a staff writer at The Atlantic. I will also see if I can find this online article.
It was something that I read in the print magazine, but if I can find it, I will link to the online article. What he was writing in this piece was about how he's kind of embraced being late. And, that might give you some feelings. I am not here to say that one should or shouldn't embrace being late. I just want to offer a perspective that he shared that has really, really stuck with me, and I think that we can apply to “balance”, and just a different way to think about it.
So, he writes about punctuality. “Here's the thing about punctuality. It doesn't really exist.” Just like, here's the thing about balance, it doesn't really exist. Okay. I shall continue. “Here's the thing about punctuality. It doesn't really exist. Perfect punctuality is a pinhead, a notional point on the continuum ... To be punctual, you have to be early—because if you’re not early, you’re late.” Right?
That in the large scheme of early, early punctual, Boop! Right there on the dirt, lay lay late, right? What he decides in this article, again, could be controversial. I am uncommitted to a side is that he would rather give himself permission to be a little bit late than to have to be super, extremely early. It's kind of a joke, right? He's like, ‘oh, I like the rush of it, the thrill.’
But for me, the reason I'm sharing this right now is that I think that it's actually the same thing with balance, right? Could we argue, could you argue to me that balance, actually, it is-- It is possible, Tiffany, don't tell me it's not possible. So, okay, how hard are you going to have to work to get there? You tell me that. And then, how long are you going to be able to stay there? And, that's so--
Both of those pieces are so important to think about because if you are completely flat out on the ground, once you hit balance, how much are you going to enjoy that? And, number two, if your effortlessly perfect balance is contingent upon nothing new happening, no chaos, you never being excited or lit up about anything ever again, how fun is it going to be for you to be there? Right?
So, if the conditions of balance are that you've got to do all this, Ugh, grappling, awful work on the front stuff, on the beginning of it to get there. And then, afterwards, you have to stay perfectly still and not disrupt anything, what are we doing? Right? What are we doing? So, it really helps me to think about balance as like, boop, one point on a graph, right?
And, to think about, I think about it as like a wave and maybe what we can do is accept and recognize and allow, talking about some DFSTAG here, y'all, some discernment, spirit-tending, acceptance, grace, faith, Radical Self-Belief. Maybe we can allow that balance is not a permanent state, but it is something out there and maybe we're always coming or going or moving into or coming out of.
And, maybe what we want to do is learn how to live in a peacefully, enthusiastic, connected, lit-up unbalanced way, because that's actually the only way. So, does that mean that we need to keep over the balance? No. Instead, I want you to think about harmony. And, like I said before, I've been working on this episode for a few weeks now, and I will tell you that I--
Often what I do when I'm developing an episode and coming up with all the ideas and putting all the pieces together-- It's like a puzzle. And, as I'm putting all the pieces together, part of what I do is I play with the ideas in my own life. And, I understand that I'm just a sample size of one, but I kind of work with them and see, how does harmony fit in?
And, I'll tell y'all, when I can remember, [laughs] remembering to remember is like half the battle or three-quarters of the battle. When I can remember that harmony is what I'm after, so many more things fall into place and I experience so much more peace. And, the thing about harmony is that harmony doesn't require effortless perfection or complete compartmentalization, or you performing at your absolute highest at all times in any given moment, no matter what, right?
Harmony also doesn't require a lack of chaos or outside things happening. But what's beautiful about harmony is I picture an orchestra. And, it's all of these different instruments. And, it's all of these different rhythms, and some are louder than others. And, some are working with others like themselves, and some are solo.
And, there are times when different parts take a break or different instruments become louder and more audible. And, what you get to imagine for yourself in seeking out harmony and saying yes to harmony is that you get to be in the role of conductor. And, that doesn't mean, let's be clear, that doesn't mean that you're perfectly managing everything in any given moment.
But it means that there are an infinite number of combinations and things that could happen. And, just because of that, the conductor is still the conductor, the conductor is still front and center. The conductor is still like, ‘yeah, okay. Maybe the bassoon is a little bit flat. We can work with that, does that mean it's ideal? No, but it is what it is.
And then, you know, we'll adjust or we'll figure out what's making the bassoon flat. But also, the conductor understands that if me, if I, as a conductor stop rehearsal to figure out the bassoon pitch problem-- I have never played a bassoon, which might be clear right now, but y'all know it's a metaphor.
When we walk over to the bassoon to figure out the pitch problem, we are not then cursing ourselves for experiencing this delay. We are not, ah, mad at everybody else. Right? We just know that, ‘this is something that I want to figure out so that all of these instruments can work in harmony.’ And, can you feel the grace in that?
Can you feel like, ‘oh, okay, I can turn my back on the other things if I'm over here helping the bassoon do what the bassoon needs.’ And, sometimes you might say, ‘you know what, something else is more pressing. Bassoon, just be pitchy. That's okay. We'll deal with you later.’ But it's not trying to manage the bassoon, and the sad percussionist, and the violinist who's running late. I don't know, right?
All of these things simultaneously and trying to manage them all perfectly effortlessly in a balanced way. At some point, I feel like I need to follow this metaphor even further and interview a conductor.
So, if any of y'all out there are conductors and you want to come on and talk about this in harmony and the instruments and that whole beautiful melodic metaphor, please reach out to me and let me know. I have a contact forum on my site at tiffanyhan.com. Okay. So, what we want instead of balance is harmony.
The other thing that I love about harmony is that there are so many different places you can play. Now, if you are completely exhausted, because maybe you haven't been getting that perfect dream, eight hours of sleep, I know that the idea of having so many different places to play [laughs] is the last thing you want, right?
It's like, ‘oh my God, Tiffany, just tell me one thing, because I'm so tired.’ This is why Grown-Up Gap Year exists. Check it out. This is like exactly part of what we tackle in Grown-Up Gap Year, but I digress. So, I know that the idea of so many different places to play can feel overwhelming and can feel like too much.
And, if you are operating with the belief that there is one right way to do something that every other way is wrong and you're walking that tight rope, we're bringing in tight-rope metaphors now, balance, tight rope, get it? And, you're walking that tight rope of finding the one right way, but not disrupting anything else.
Then, yeah, knowing that there are so many ways out there is going to feel so daunting because what we think we want is for someone to just tell us what path to get on, but listen up now. You have already played that game. You have been told in your life over and over and over the path to be on, the way to be on it. And, you've been told about the promised land that it's going to lead you to.
And, for all of us that has not led to a life that feels as good on the inside, as it looks on the outside. And, there is no reason to have the life that looks good on the outside if it feels awful, if it feels like misery, that is not what we are here for. That is not what we want.
And, that way of thinking stays with us. It is in our bones. So yeah, it's going to take some time to remember that an infinite number of paths equals an infinite number of possibilities; equals this part is important, let's underline it and bold it; equals an infinite number of right ways to proceed. Ooh.
Can you feel the grace in that? Yes. Yes, yes. Okay. How do we get to harmony? How do we-- How do we get to harmony? Now, before I give you my list of some ways to think about tapping harmony, I want to also say that this is not a complete exhaustive list, nor is it a to-do list, right?
It's not like, ‘oh, if you do these things perfectly, [laughs] check, check, check; then you'll find this perfect,’ right? That's like saying, “Here's the right path. Get on it and do it, and it'll lead you to a promise land and nothing is ever going to shake you, shake your ground again.” Right? Nothing is ever going to bring you out of harmony again.
I wish. I wish. And, do I-- Like, if we knew the answer right now, I would never have anything else to talk about on my podcast. So instead, think about these things that I'm sharing as like starting places, guiding principles, but giving yourself permission not to try to perform harmony perfectly because that's still that old way of thinking, of effortlessly perfect balance.
All of these things like we could-- I mean, oh, y'all, every single one of these things I'm about to share could be not only its own podcast episode, it could be its own entire podcast.
I am very clear that for me to like button this up in a little ‘six-item list’ is like, well, okay, Tiffany, seriously? But remembering that we are explorers of our own lives, that we are exploring, we are questioning, we are open to not knowing.
We are allowing ourselves to be on a path, and we're allowing ourselves to not only accept the path, but eventually the goal is to delight in the path, to find joy in the path, to allow the fact that you're on the path to actually bring you peace, bring you calm, help you be centered, help you feel connected to something outside of yourself. Instead of like, ‘oh, I've got to be on this path now.’
So, these are starting places. These are invitations to dive deeper. These are things that you might forget and will come back to. You know, this might be an episode that you've listened to a few times and then you forget about it. And then, you listen to in a year. Sure. Yes, yes. All of the above.
So, number one, how can we start tapping harmony? Start with, y'all, you've got to stop beating yourself up for ebbs and flows in your life and for feeling unbalanced, right? This is grace. This is grace and action. And, it's also faith that something else is possible. Faith, that it's not just up to you to figure it out.
Faith, that your feeling imbalanced is not like a human failing or a moral failing or a failing of your abilities, and you should just be better at this. ‘Oh, if I could just manage my time better.’ No, I promise, nobody who's listening to this podcast, none of us have the problem of time management. Oh, I should do an episode about that. About what's really going on. I'm going to make a quick note of that.
Hold on, y'all. So, that's number one, give yourself some grace. Allow the things that I've already shared here and all the reasons that I went to, why balance is unattainable; allow them to be true and know that that voice that tells you to want and seek out balance-- Number one, the voice that tells you to want balance, know that; number one, it's not wrong to want balance. That's fine.
But knowing that the voice that tells you that balance is the way is not a voice that's acting in your best interest. It's just not. So, try to breathe into it and imagine a different way, a different way that is going to help you be the most brilliant-- And, when I say brilliant, I mean like dazzling, right? Not like smart, academically smart, like a brilliant, like a diamond, the most brilliant, dazzling version of yourself.
That's what we're after. And, that brilliant dazzling version of yourself is not performing all the time. That version of yourself knows how to rest, how to find restoration, how to be at peace even when things are falling down around you. That's number one, stop beating yourself up.
Number two, practice attending to your attention. If we go back to our conductor metaphor, if the conductor is helping the bassoon figure out what's going on with that B-Sharp, but the conductor isn't able to focus on that bassoon, it's going to be really hard to solve that problem. Right?
And, part of what we can play with when we think about harmony, when we think about living in harmony, so not finding harmony, right? Living in, it is an active relationship. When we think about living in harmony, part of what makes it easier, not saying easy, easier is being able to be in the room you're in, is the ability to focus on whatever you are doing.
And, that doesn't mean focus perfectly. It doesn't mean focus forever. It doesn't mean overwork yourself. But if you can focus on what you're doing, you get it done and then you can move on to something else. Now, ‘okay, Tiffany, that sounds great. How do I do that?’ This is a time when I recommend meditation. And, I know that we are promised that meditation will change our lives forever.
I don't think it's quite that simple, but what I do know is that through a practice of meditation, you can sharpen your focus and attention skills. ‘Tiffany, but how?’ One thing that you can play with is meditating and doing what they call ‘focused attention meditation’, which is nothing more than setting a timer, closing your eyes and just concentrating on your breath. That's all you have to do.
Now, ‘what about when my mind wanders? I'm so bad at meditation.’ I know, you're not. Let me rephrase that. You're not bad at meditation. And, I know your mind wanders because that is what minds do. And so, every time your mind wanders away from your breath, you just come back to your breath. That's actually the practice, right?
And, what you're doing is you're training your brain. You're building that habit. You're building that muscle so that when you're doing the thing that you don't really want to do and your mind, wanders, you bring it back to the task at hand. Right?
Do you see that? Do you see that? So, in fact, you might spend the entire meditation time chasing your breath, chasing your focus, breathing, forgetting to focus on your breathing, coming back to it. Yeah. Yeah. That's how it works. That doesn't mean you're bad at meditation. That's how meditation works. Keep going.
If that feels boring, you can do guided visualizations. You can do a mantra. You can do a chanting meditation, but focusing on something, that focused attention, focused awareness. The other meditation type that you can try is called Open Awareness, and that is where you focus on nothing. You sit with an empty mind, which again, [laughs] that's hilarious, right?
You sit with an empty mind and what you practice is not attaching to any thoughts that come to you, which means that-- I like to picture them as bubbles coming down, these thoughts, these things, the groceries and the kids and the work thing and the email I didn't send, and the thing and the sweater I want to buy. I need new contacts and I still need to go get that blood test for the thing, right? They just-- They come like pouring in.
It's like someone released a ball pit or something. They come pouring in when you sit down to do that meditation, and then you pop, pop, pop, pop! I like to pop them. Other people picture different things. The goal is that you practice not grabbing onto them, not attaching to them.
So, you are openly aware of them, but you're not following any of them down any one particular path. It's like, ‘oh, look at all of these thoughts, huh?’ Instead of what we usually do, which is try to grab onto all of them frantically at the same time, and then wonder why we're so tired.
So, if you want to practice this, you could alternate between those two different types of meditation. Or you could do one a day. You could do one in the morning, one at night. You could play around with it. Do whatever you feel like. Sure. Yes. And, all of those things are going to help you practice attending to your attention. Number three, for tapping into harmony, find some human connection.
Now, this human connection can absolutely be facilitated through devices and through technology if it needs to be, of course, but I'm talking about the kind of human connection that-- You know, going back to that quote from Anne Helen Petersen where she was talking about where she said, I'll read it again, “In this time when we are ostensibly in communication with more people than ever.”
And, she was talking about email, group text, social media, all the things, more people feel personally lonely, but also really isolated from the sort of strong ties that create a safety net. And, I am not saying find human connections so that you eventually can borrow money from people.
I am saying that real connection, deep connection, personal connections will build a sense of safety around you because the truth is like, we can't do it all on our own, no matter how highly capable we are. And so, accepting that, that, again, it's not a personal failing; it's just how it is.
And, allowing yourself to be vulnerable and be seen by people and let them help you, whether it's watching your kids or picking up medicine when you're sick or just being able to go to someone and be like, ‘I'm kind of freaking out. Can I just like-- Can you hear this?’ Yes. All of that counts. Find some human connection.
And, the thing to play with, if you're wondering, ‘well, this connection I have, is it human? Is it a real human connection? Or is it sort of this thinning of the water, right, this thinning of the real stuff. And, it just feels like filler.’ But think about, is it a place of safety? Is it a place where you feel like your actual self?
Is it a place where you can show up as truly you, messy, real, honest, blah, whatever, whatever your blah is? Or is it somewhere where you feel like you have to perform now? If it is somewhere where you feel like you have to perform, it's not that that connection isn't possible there, right? That's just an invitation to dig deeper and think about, why? What's going on?
Is it that it is a space where you really can't be yourself? Or is it because you have an idea of who you need to be within this space based on certain constructs, rules, ways things have happened before? And, this is an invitation to maybe tiptoe into some vulnerability, tiptoe into like some trying.
Again, y'all, I realize that this could be its own podcast conversation. It could be its own podcast series. You know, I get it. So simple, not easy. We could talk about this forever tiptoeing into, tip-toeing into. That's what I want you to take away right now, because I don't want to make this into a seven-hour podcast episode.
Number four, how to tap into some harmony, shift your expectations and find in any given moment, whatever your enough quotient is for whatever it is that you're engaged in. I want to be very clear when I say, ‘in any given moment, find your enough quotient for whatever it is that you are presently engaged in.’ So, this doesn't mean have a static-- And, enough quotient, what do I mean by that?
What I mean by that is like, what is the place in whatever you're engaged in, where we get to be like, this is enough and I get to walk away? There's a reason that this one has to be paired with ‘lower your expectations, because for most of us, it's like, ‘no, I just want to be good at everything. And, I know that I have I'm capable of that.’ Right?
‘I want to do all the things and be really good at all the things,’ like we talked about in the very beginning. So, we have to be willing to shift our expectations. I know the balance of that effortlessly perfect is impossible; and instead say, ‘okay, for whatever it is that I'm doing right now, for this podcast episode, for making dinner, for making breakfast, for making lunch, for getting myself dressed in this moment, what do I want to call enough?’
Let's say you're getting ready in the morning. Sometimes that might be going all out, getting dolled up full face, hair, all the things, whatever that version is for you. Sometimes that might mean putting on some yoga pants and calling it good. Sometimes that might mean staying in pajamas. Sometimes that might mean going back to bed. Sure. Okay. Right? Can you see?
It's not about saying, “This is the way.” We think we need to find the way, what we really need to find is the grace and discernment and the faith to let ourselves move through our lives, trusting that we will be able to identify the way that we want in the moment for wherever we are. Do you see the difference? Do you see where Radical Self-Belief is a way of being, not a destination and how it can help us through our entire lives? Do you see that?
Okay. Number five, this goes back to that tip-toeing and the vulnerability piece, feel your feelings and be honest with other people about them. That's it. Number five, no big deal. Just feel your feelings and don't make yourself wrong for them. And, don't spend all your time avoiding them, and talk to other people about them. Again, no big deal.
That's why it's so important to have these places of safety around us. ‘Well, what do I do, Tiffany, if I don't feel like I have that currently?’ Well, yeah, that's real. That's real for a lot of us. So, where I would start for you is breathing, number one; and then giving yourself permission just to be with the feelings and acknowledge them for yourself.
So, if you feel like you don't have that space or that community, or that support right now, can you be that for yourself as a place to start? And, there are all kinds of like, just we’ll asterisk this with the fact that there are all kinds of different things that could be going on; trauma, mental health challenges, you know, really hard things.
And, this may not be something that you can solve with the podcast. It might be something where you need therapy, where you need some sort of social services, where you need some sort of outside expert experienced help to help you find those communities. And, coming back to starting that, creating that for yourself.
The other thing that we have to think about is, how many of us are operating in a world where we are constantly surrounded by people. But again, we aren't being fully honest with those people about what's happening with us, and what would happen if you told the truth? Some of you might be like, ‘ah, yeah, no.’ I'm not saying you have to tell the truth in every given moment.
I'm saying, think about that, play with it, right? Where are you not telling the full truth? Where are you not sharing your feelings? Where are you not allowing feelings to come in, and exist, and go out? Where are you not-- Where are you denying yourself the ability to feel those feelings?
Okay. Number six, finding harmony. Start recognizing-- So, it's not about, know it perfectly, but start to recognize, start to listen for, start to watch for, keep an eye out for your own internal rhythms, cues and whispers.
Part of the reason that a conductor can move through the orchestra, the way that they do is because they have trained their ear, is because they're intimately involved in the music that they're making. It's because they're aware of the range and the capabilities and the capacity, not only of all the different instruments, but the players, right?
So, there's a way that it's about showing up and listening and all of that. But eventually, muscle memory, instinct, intuition kicks in and makes everything actually easier. Am I telling you that there's effortless perfection? No, [laughs] but again, our brain is like, ‘oh, okay. So eventually, I'll get balanced.’
No, I'm sorry. I wish I could say, yes, but I can't. So, part of, right-- We don't go from blah to, ‘oh yeah, my intuition says this and now I'm going to do that. And, everything feels fine.’
So, start recognizing your internal rhythms, the ebbs and flows, the cues; how do you know when you need to pull away? How do you know when you've gone too far? And, the whispers, start listening to yourself, goes along with feeling your feelings, right? Just start listening, start being like, ‘oh, oh that's. Oh, that's interesting. Oh, interesting. Okay. Okay.’
All of these are starting places. Again, you're not going to-- It's not a checklist, ‘do this and then you'll be done.’ This is like a-- I hope it feels like an exhale. My goal is that we get to step beyond the overwhelm that so many of us are used to living in; and forge a new path, which can feel unfamiliar.
And so, in a way it can feel more actively overwhelming than the unconscious rigor of living in overwhelmed that we've just gotten so used to and accustomed to that we decide it's comfortable. It's not comfortable. It's just familiar. So, we're looking at a new way, a different way. And, maybe you are feeling pretty harmonious. Awesome.
So, for you, what are some things that you can take away to feel more harmonious or to allow yourself when those other pulls, that effortlessly perfect thing shows up to really push back against that and be like, ‘no, mm-hmm, mm-hmm,’ maybe to recover faster so that you don't spend quite as much time outside yourself, right? All of those are some great places to play.
So, thank you for this week. I hope that this resonates, I hope that you have some things that you can take away. And, I hope the biggest one is just giving yourself grace, being so kind to yourself because you're amazing, loving yourself up, and knowing how wonderful you are, and knowing that what you want is possible. I promise, it's possible. It's possible. It's possible. All right, y’all, thank you. More soon, I will be back in a couple weeks.
Thank you for listening. And, if you liked what you heard, please be sure to tell a friend or spread the word about the show. In addition to that, ratings and reviews make a huge difference in helping me get my work into the ears of other people. So, thank you for everybody who has done that.
And, thank you for everyone who is about to do that right now. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Also, don't forget about my free five-day Radical Delight Kickstart, my private five-day podcast that is designed to help you infuse your days with delight as quickly and easily as possible.
The Tiffany Han Show is a production of Say Yes Creative LLC with editing and sound mixing from Podcast Edition; and post-production and ongoing support from Jaz Zepatos, Her Podcast Club. Thank you again for listening, and I'll see you next week.
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