I go for a walk almost every morning.  As long as it isn’t snowing or raining, I’m walking.

It’s not exactly a “hot girl” walk…more like an “anxious girl who needs time in nature first thing in the AM to make it through the day” walk.  Nonetheless, these walks are some of the highlights of each of my days.

For years, I listened to podcasts, and only podcasts, during my walks.  Give me a good self-development podcast and I could devour it within a few miles.  There was nothing I loved more than learning something new or reflecting on my life first thing in the morning.

Last month, before one of my walks, my podcast app wasn’t working.  Naturally, I was frustrated…I had my hopes set for listening to my favorite podcast of the week.  Regardless, I still wanted to go out on my walk, so I decided I would just throw on some music and take a shorter walk than usual.  I popped in my earbuds, tightened my Tevas, shuffled my playlist, and walked out the door.

Within just minutes of my walk, I could tell: this felt different.  A good kind of different.

As I strolled through the park, I felt myself being moved by the joy in my music.  I smiled.  I paid more attention to my surroundings.  I felt uplifted and energized.  My mind was clear and my heart was open.  I was at peace.

The next morning, when it came time for my walk, I decided to listen to music again.  For a second time, my walk felt different.  A good kind of different.

So I listened to music again on the next day.  And the day after that.  And the day after that.

And each day I felt more and more at peace in my body and my mind as I moved through my morning walk.

Why had the music changed my experience?  What was it about the music that made my walks so much more pleasurable?

It wasn’t until weeks after the switch, that I was able to identify the reasoning behind my change in attitude.

Every podcast that I used to binge during my morning walks was a self-development podcast.  I’d listen to hosts talk about healing their auto-immune diseases, living with grief, mending broken relationships, meditating for stress relief, and so much more.  And after every episode, I’d have a mental checklist (consciously or subconsciously) of all the ways I could integrate what I had learned into my life: how I could treat my body better, how I could grieve better, how I could improve my relationships…the list was never ending.

As a result, at the start of every day, I was looking at all of the ways I was lacking and became my own self-improvement project.  Before even eating breakfast, I was inviting in gentle, yet pervasive, self-criticism.  What a horrible way to start the day!

Don’t get me wrong: I still love a good self-development podcast and know the immense importance of self-reflection.  There are many times in our lives where receiving the guidance of others, reflecting inwardly, and making changes in our lives accordingly is appropriate and necessary.  However, we don’t always need to change.  We don’t always need to look for ways to improve.

You are not a constant self-improvement project.

You are a human.  A human who is doing the best she can with what she has.

So many of us are eager to fix or change things within ourselves, within our relationships, and within our businesses in hopes of a “better” and more “fulfilling” life.  We chase after the allure of a more satisfying life promised to us in podcasts, books, documentaries, and courses.  Meanwhile, the satisfying life we are craving is right underneath of our noses.  We are just too busy telling ourselves that we need to do, be, and learn more to actually steep in the satisfaction that is present in our lives right NOW.

Switching to music on my morning walks has given me permission to be as I am and to enjoy what I have.  Music doesn’t demand anything from me.  It doesn’t tell me that I need to do anything in order to be worthy of a good life.  It simply invites me into my own sense of joy.

I know it’s hard to jump off the self-development merry-go-round.  You are an empathetic soul who wants to do good in this world.  You know you are destined for greatness and that’s why you have been searching for it in every podcast, book, and course you buy.

But, what if, you consider:

You already are great.

You already do good in this world.

You already have purpose, meaning, and beauty in your life right now.

Can you pause the search and settle, just for this moment, into the acceptance of the magnitude of that in which you already have?

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