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Designing Your Best Life

May 22, 2010

I’ve been thinking and exploring a lot about the concepts of creative visualization, the law of attraction, and creating your life the way you want it. I love these ideas, and I like to read about them. Sometimes though it takes me a little while to really ingest them, really understand enough to put them into practice. Sometimes I find it hard to reconcile some of my beliefs as it seems at first they conflict. For instance, I love reading Thich Nhat Hanh, and I also love reading Napoleon Hill. My Buddhist readings seem to always teach that we need to slow down, think clearly and meditate, and let go of desires and expectations. That seems to fly in the face of modern theories of personal and business development, which teach that we need to rack our brains to come up with great ideas, push our productivity until each day is full of networking opportunities, business research, and marketing efforts. Even more, I’ve come to understand that the way to create something is to think about it, focus on it. Create a picture in your mind of the way you want things. Think and Grow Rich teaches that you must have a burning desire to reach your goals.

So which is it? Clear your mind and breathe deeply into a yoga pose OR rev your creative engine until you make your million? Well, both. Sometimes you have insane energy that should be expended in order to create positive change, help inspire others, create products and designs that improve life. And sometimes we need to relax and recharge. When I spent a few days at Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastery near my parents’ home in North San Diego, Deer Park, I really came out with this dichotomy on my mind. I really was able to slow my pace to a rate that I wasn’t used to. I had such an appreciation for everything, such increased sensitivity. While there, we practiced walking meditation, sitting meditation- everything became a meditation- breathing and thinking about the nature of what you are doing- digging a ditch for the garden, washing your dish after dinner, enjoying an impromptu stretching session with a small group of people just after sunrise and the monks and nuns have just sung out and song and rung a big bell to wake you up. I wasn’t sure after that experience that I had been living my life the optimal way, since I hadn’t experienced appreciation quite like that before. I also however knew then more than ever that the slow, simplified, celibate life of a monk or nun wasn’t for me either. I wanted to become a part of the lay community, the sangha, and continue learning on my own.

So now I do all of these things at different times. They are all important, and I really believe that Eastern and Western philosophies can come together in a way that makes sense. For this reason, I really appreciated Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Living Buddha, Living Christ. It brings faiths together in a way that really made sense and highlighted the similarities rather than the differences among ancient world religions.

I really believe that visualizing things the way you want them- whether it be a home, a job, a mate, or a whole life- truly does attract them into your life, in the same way that you become more attracted to the things that will lead you to your desired end. Having desires and expectations can set you up for suffering, true. But without them, I feel that growth and development would be stunted. You have to have a picture of where you want to be, to picture yourself how you want to look- we all do it, but sometimes we don’t realize what our minds are creating. When we think negative thoughts, negative effects also follow. Sometimes we don’t understand this and it just keeps getting worse and worse. Mental and emotional blocks, our delusions are truly the stumbling blocks of growth and enlightenment. The best and brightest, the greatest of us still do it. Once we realize that we must see things as they really are, rather than create our own pseudo-reality, we can begin to remove our incorrect notions about the world and ourselves and begin to create the person we desire to become.

For this reason, I refuse any organized religion, but choose to take what resonates with me from each one I encounter to create my own truth. “Sat Nam”- which means the truth, my true identity, or more simply “really”- is a powerful mantra in my life and yoga practice. I have to do what makes sense and works for me, and I think everyone else should do the same. It is harder not having a label- it is harder not having all my questions answered by one book or one person. But I believe that I have to think about things for myself in order to avoid relinquishing control of my life’s personal belief system and maintain the high energy that comes with believing truly in myself.

I am grateful that I have a design background- I feel that practicing designing spaces, furniture, products, art- it is the same process for designing anything, and once you get into the habit of going through the motions until you see results, you can apply the same process to anything and everything- fashion, cooking, interior design- even creating your body and style the way you want it. You realize that you can do anything, each day is a gift, an opportunity to create something, to appreciate something that has been created for you.

I want to share some of the books and other materials I have mentioned or I recommend along these same lines. You can check them out to see if they might help you, and let me know what you think if you do come across any of these! You can create anything for yourself, make it something wonderful!!!

More cool resources:

  • I follow The Secret on Facebook and they share a positive quote here and there and connect you with other secret fans
  • I’ve been enjoying Tut‘s (free!) Notes From the Universe for over a year now, and I still appreciate and enjoy each one.
  • is a great way to find people with the same beliefs and you, meet some friends, and share some energy
  • Thich Nhat Hanh’s official sites- and The Deer Park site has a great picture of that same rock where I’ve sat right on the home page! (I sure wish I could go to his retreat coming to Estes Park in August, but it’s a little pricey! Probably because they are renting facilities for the conference from the YMCA of the Rockies.)


One Comment leave one →
  1. Grandma Penny permalink
    May 23, 2010 1:27 pm

    Dearest Suzanne,
    Love your article and the sharing of your reasoning and philosophy. It shows me how advanced you are, in my mind at least. The reason I say this is because we are 45 years apart in age. I am 73 and you are 28, right? It may have something to do with the fact that we have similar blood running through our veins or that your a Virgo and I have Virgo rising, who knows? But you have come to the same conclusions that I have but much earlier. You can apply them for years yet to come. I rarely run across anyone that wants to even discuss their personal philosophy, but I think it is most healthy and enlightening for those that exchange ideas with an open mind, that’s how we continually mold our own philosophies and personal reality. Keep dreaming and building. Let yourself go where you must go and enjoy all those good writes, create your own beliefs and rites and depend on your acquired knowledge for your sustenance and security .
    Oh how I would love to sit down with you, some tea and vanilla wafers and talk for hours. I’ve learned that there are so many ways to achieve your desires both conscious and unconscious. Every organized religion has something to be gleaned from it, but you and your angels are the ones that know what is best for you.
    xoxoxoxoxo , Grandma Penny

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