Feelings are powerful.
I had a feeling you would like this. I have a funny feeling about him. This feels right. This feels wrong. I feel like you don’t understand. I feel alive.
Without realizing it, we make decisions based on our feelings all the time. Harnessing that natural tendency just makes sense and that’s what Danielle Laporte did with The Desire Map. Instead of setting goals or specific checklists, she starts out with guiding readers to delve into figuring out what we really want and use that as a platform for making life choices.
I was intrigued. As a consistently unorganized, lack of follow through, overwhelmed mother of three that has tried everything from Flylady to the Franklin-Covey system, this idea felt intriguing. I had no idea how deep this system would take me into self-discovery and it still continues even after I have finished the book.
Danielle Laporte created The Desire Map as a segue from The Firestarter Sessions—another self-help book that guides readers into creating success and going after it fully. She touched on the idea about following your inner gut and how you feel and readers connected with it and wanted more.
Figuring out how I wanted to feel was more difficult than I expected. Obviously happy and content were easy emotions to nail down, but realistically those are fairly generic. What is it that makes us happy or content? In order to pin down what I wanted to feel I had to first list what I didn’t want to feel, which was something of a surprise. I closed my eyes and thought about the things I had gone through over the last few years and the day-to-day issues I encounter and how I am left emotionally, afterward.
Listing emotions that left me feeling not so good was somewhat easier. From this I began to spring-board the counter emotion. For example: awkward became at ease, broken became whole.
The next step was to list four or five of these words, and try to work them into your daily thinking. Does this make me feel whole or at ease? Is what I am wearing today make me feel whole? How will I feel by going to that party?
There is a hitch to choosing these words. They cannot be feelings we get from other people. This means instead of feel loved, a better choice is to feel love. Feeling loved relies on someone else to make us feel that way. This is all about you and making yourself experience life on your own terms.
When I first put these ideas into practice, I didn’t realize how little thought I gave to how I approached life. Typically, I simply do what needs to be done. If the children need to get up for school. I wake them up, get breakfast, assist with any hair styling or sock hunting and usher them out the door to the car. If a client comes in at my workplace, I inquire how they are feeling, assess what needs treating, and do what I can to make them better. It is a rare occasion that I pause to consider how any one event makes me feel.
The slow realization that I allow myself to be bounced around the emotional map day in and day out without once checking in to see if I can do any one thing to become more in control of this roller coaster was, well—kind of life changing.
Suddenly to comprehend that I do have some choice was enough to completely halt the entire process for me. I flipped back a few chapters, and took Danielle’s words in a little slower this time. Phrases popped out, and I wrote them down in my notebook:
You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you feel about it.
Small, deliberate actions inspired by your true desires create a life you love.
You can feel beautiful amidst the ugly parts of life.
What an amazing way to look at life. What an obvious, but overlooked path to making decisions and choices. I am a habitual over-thinker, and this simplifies it so much more.
How does this make me feel?
If it’s what I want to feel then it’s the right choice. Perfect.
Dana Gornall is a mom of three crazy kids and a dog. She works as a licensed massage therapist in Amherst, Ohio and is a certified sign language interpreter. She is always looking for opportunities to even more personal growth. While not interpreting, doing massage, or being with her family she loves going to yoga. You can see some of her articles on elephant journal and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.