Doro Bush Koch and Tricia Reilly Koch
When someone tells us they’re feeling stuck, our go-to response is to ask how they can get curious. We encourage our wellness clients to ask questions about how certain foods or activities make them feel, but anyone can benefit from curiosity.
In our recent interview with Ellen Warner, author of The Second Half: Forty Women Reveal Life After 50, we were inspired by the stories of women from around the world. One of the consistent themes in her interviews with these women — who reflect on their lives and offer advice for younger women — is to stay curious.
When we move through life on autopilot, we miss a lot. It’s when we pause to examine our habits that we create a possibility for change and expansion.
And that’s what we want of our lives, isn’t it? We are truly vibrant when our experiences are not stifled and limited but dynamic and wide. Soaring does not mean we have to scale cliffs or become experts in multiple fields. We just have to be open and willing to ask questions and take risks.
Sometimes going out of our comfort zone means mentoring or showing up for other people. Purpose is a huge component of a fulfilling life. It’s not necessary to be famous to play an important role in the lives of others. When we consider the experience and happiness of other people, we elevate ourselves.
Staying in a narrow lane is limiting, both for what we lose in knowledge and what others lose by not engaging with us. When we try new things and consider new avenues, we appreciate a wider diversity of people, cultures, and places. We feel grateful for what the world has to offer, and for the simple fact of being alive! Gratitude is one of the biggest predictors for happiness.
Forgiveness is also key to reaching new heights. Anger, resentment, and sadness weigh us down and keep us from truly being happy and fulfilled. Professor Richard Davidson writes about neuroplasticity and explains that we can change our brains by changing our minds. There’s no reason to waste the time we have left plodding down the same worn paths when we can explore new ones.
It may be true that it takes work to throw off our baggage, but the results can be transformative. We recently had the opportunity to interview Christopher Willard about his new book, How We Grow Through What We Go Through: Self-Compassion Practices for Post-Traumatic Growth. In it, he explains how going through a traumatic experience can actually make a positive difference in our lives. We always have the ability to rewrite our story.
At first blush, it might seem difficult to imagine how trauma can benefit us. If we build a solid foundation of mindfulness, we are more resilient and better able to bounce back from difficulty. A mindfulness practice helps us be curious, grateful, and forgiving.
We don’t get there overnight, though; it’s a muscle that has to be practiced in order for us to be able to activate it easily. If we put in the time to sit in meditation and go about our daily tasks with intention, we’re better able to let go of things that might drag us down and to instead grab the reins of opportunities that will help us soar.
As Sharon Salzberg says, “That’s life: starting over, one breath at a time.”
To hear Doro and Tricia’s interviews with Ellen Warner, Christopher Willard, and many more innovative thinkers, plus a library of guided meditations, check out and subscribe to The Health Gig podcast at bbrconsulting.us/health-gig-podcast.
This article is featured in the December 2022 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.