Life preserving vs. Life giving

Do you sometimes feel stuck?

Do you feel that you are holding back?

Maybe you need to become more life-giving.

Last November, I was looking at options to purchase a new jacket, as mine was getting old and worn out. I saw the perfect jacket at the Galleries Lafayette, one of the high-end department stores in Paris. It was a De Fursac, perfectly cut for me, was casual enough to go out yet formal enough for business meetings: a perfect fit! The investment was almost 2,5 times what I had planned to spend on a jacket. I compared it with other brands and tried out similar jackets. Some were nice, some were OK, but none of them were the perfect fit or could even compare. I just knew that the one I truly wanted was the most expensive one. It would require me to work to get it. And I would have to wait.

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Two months later, my jacket is getting old and I have the newer one on my mind. I checked it online several times to see whether there was a bigger discount thanks to the French January sale, and almost every day, as I was wearing my old jacket, I was thinking about the new one. There was even a point where I went to another De Fursac store, but they didn’t have the exact jacket I loved. The jacket disappeared from their online store, and I wondered whether I had missed that opportunity.

I went back to the De Fursac corner, just as the sale period was about to end. They had only one jacket left per size. There was a problem though: at that moment, I was running low in cash, and had to budget for moving to my new apartment a week later. The Nice Guy in me wanted to let go of this opportunity, and just be content with what I had in life. We should be content with what we have, right? Just live in gratitude and not ask for more. Well, what if being a Nice Guy/Girl wasn’t always the best option for growth?

Here is a section from Robert Glover’s No more Mr. Nice Guy:

« They’re lovely, valuable people – I like them – they’re not interested in harming the earth or starting wars. There’s a gentle attitude toward life in their whole being and style of living. But many of these men are not happy. You quickly notice the lack of energy in them. They are life-preserving but not exactly life-giving [emphasis mine]. Ironically you often see these men with strong women who positively radiate energy. Here we have a finely tuned young man, ecologically superior to his father, sympathetic to the whole harmony of the universe, yet he himself has little vitality to offer.” 

Robert GLOVER

This is how life can be for us. Men and women (and everybody in between) are all concerned by this powerful distinction: Life preserving vs. Life giving. There are moments when we feel that we have to protect things and keep them as they are to maintain the status quo. This makes us feel safe and secure. Our survival instinct is what drives this need to maintain things in balance, and it all arises out of fear: Fear from losing what we have, fear that things will be different, fear that things can go wrong.

Usually, I do not like to purchase clothes. I am a hardcore minimalist in this area, as I tend to wear the same few clothes over and over. This is a domain where I used to be highly life-preserving. My last jacket was a Kuyichi organic cotton navy blue jacket. I wore it almost daily (except in summer) for the last 7 years. It came with me in my travels in India, the U.S., Jordan and other countries in the Middle-East. I’ll let you in on a secret, I had to wait till it started to get holes in its pockets till I thought: “I really need to change.” That’s how life-preserving I can be.

In these moments, it feels like an effort to open-up to opportunities and to act in a more creative and bold way. In these moments, there is a window to shift to a more life-giving attitude. Our friend Goethe gives us a little kick of encouragement when we need it:

“What You Can Do, or Dream You Can, Begin It; Boldness Has Genius, Power, and Magic in It.”

GOETHE

A life-giving attitude allows for our genius to flourish in an act of creative expression that expands the universe, fertilizes the environment and nurtures the people around us. But the price to pay is courage and boldness, and it is paid upfront.

I’ll let you in on a truth about me: I hate settling for less, although I can be really good at it. I excel at practicing contentment and living in gratitude. But right now, I am exercising a different muscle: I am going for what I truly want in Life. And that takes commitment, courage, genius and creativity, as well as speaking one’s truth (and admitting it to oneself first) which feels really challenging at times. It also requires dropping judgement, and self-judgement:

Yes, for that jacket, I broke all the rules I usually have for myself: It is not particularly eco-friendly, I did not have all the cash on my bank account, and it is far above what I would usually spend on a jacket. But that was the only jacket I wanted, it was my last opportunity to get it, I was not willing to let it go. Moreover, I have other important things to focus my attention on like serving my clients, expanding my coaching practice and enjoying life. That is life-giving.

What got you here won’t get you there. Being life-preserving can only take you so far. The shift to acting in a life-giving way will take you to the next level.

As my mentor Michel Vallier taught me:

“Those who really want it find a way. Others find excuses.”

Or as another coach said:

“Some people say I can’t afford to work with that coach. I say: I can’t afford not to work with that coach !”

How about you? What are 2-3 areas of your life where you are more life preserving?

What bold and creative action could you take to shift them to become more life-giving?

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