“Act the way you want to be and soon you will be the way you act.”
― Iyanla Vanzant
I’m somewhat of a self-help junkie, or as Gabrielle Bernstein calls it, a #SpiritJunkie. It all started during my dark night of the soul — one of those seasons we all experience at some point in our lives. I’d hit rock bottom and was coping with my existential crisis in a way that most young adults would recognize: a little wine, a little beer, a little vodka, all a little too often.
One day, I’d had enough. For the first time in my life, I found myself in the self-help section of the bookstore and it was like my soul came alive and my brain flickered on for the very first time. This is what life could be like! The first book I bought was The Book of Secrets by Deepak Chopra. It’s been a few years of self-exploration since then, and I honestly have never felt more alive, more at peace, and more in love with life than I ever have. Ever.
If you’ve browsed self-help books, you know what it’s like among all those book titles. Guarantees of fulfillment. Promises of enlightenment. Offers of love and peace and serenity now. That’s all good and fine, but what happens when you’re stuck in the self-help rhythm and never actually find what you’re looking for?
“We are all looking for fulfillment,” author Mastin Kipp said at his Growing into Grace workshop at the Fairmont Hotel last Saturday in Vancouver, B.C. I’d been following Mastin quite a bit, and was excited when I was gifted a few complimentary tickets by his crew at The Daily Love. “And we all know you’ve read everything,” he continued. “You’ve read your Deepak Chopra and your Eckhart Tolle, and you’ve listened to all that Oprah has had to say. But are you fulfilled?”
And with that, we dove into a wild rabbit hole of ideas and exercises and wake-up calls. The crowd knowingly laughed as he namedropped people like Tony Robbins and Doreen Virtue (angels, hey!) and Stephen Covey and Joseph Campbell and Gabby Bernstein. The crowd knew. They’d read it all. Every book. Every blog. Listened to every podcast and talk. And yet, Mastin argued, something was still missing from their lives. And with that, here are a few of my favourite takeaways from the Growing into Grace Vancouver workshop.
1. People know the right words, but that’s not helping them!
I will love myself more. I am authentic. I give myself permission to be me. I will embody peace. All those things sound good, but what do they mean? “We understand concepts, but does behaviour change?” asked Mastin. “These things mean nothing.” We have shrouded ourselves in what Mastin calls “spiritual garb” but that doesn’t change our behaviours. It’s time to talk about change in terms of concrete actions and not something that sounds nice and spiritual.
2. The definition of fulfillment is about balance!
“Fulfillment is being connected to self and something larger,” says Mastin, where “something larger” is God or the universe or your community or Buddha or whatever resonates with you. If we’re just committed to ourselves, we are narcissists. If we’re just committed to something larger, we become co-dependent and lose ourselves.
3. You need to change your questions!
We always live with questions. Why did this awful thing happen to me? Why was I betrayed? Why does no one love me? Why am I struggling? The key, says Mastin, is to rephrase those questions to find and express the greater “Yes!’ in your life because you can’t find God’s grace in your old questions. Mastin suggests you take your old question and ask yourself, “If this was grace (the larger ‘yes!’ I missed until now), what would it be?”
The grace-filled answer doesn’t excuse what happened to you. It doesn’t make the things that were done to you okay or acceptable. But what this new answer, this new question, does is allow yourself a way out.
4. Stop talking about concepts and start doing!
Meditation, green juice, mudras — these are all fine things, but so many times people mistake the tools for the answer. Mastin talked about spiritual entertainment: watching Super Soul Sunday (Oprah, hey!), reading all the self-help books and soaking in lots of knowledge and concepts without changing.
5. The importance of community!
We become like the people we’re around. We need to stop asking the depressed person how we can be happy, or the bitter single person how we can improve our love life. “Raise your peer group to a higher level,” recommends Mastin. “Find people who are doing what you want. Whatever you want, find people who have a LOT of that and surround yourself with the best people.” And that, right there, is why I love attending workshops: You’re surrounded by like-minded seekers looking to live their best life ever!
Those are just a few of my favourite takeaways. For more of Mastin’s great advice, check out Mastin’s book on Amazon: Growing into Grace. Mastin shares some of his personal stories of darkness and light, embracing them all as part of his journey to becoming who he really is. He also speaks of various spiritual leaders who have influenced his life, such as Joseph Campbell, Caroline Myss, Tony Robbins, George Lucas, Oprah, his parents and Jenna (his girlfriend). Through detailed accounts of various spiritual principles introduced by these teachers, Mastin shares how his inspirations and mentors have helped to guide him to success and self-discovery. With the signature voice of TheDailyLove.com and Mastin’s youthful and engaging spirit, readers gain a new perspective on what it means to be spiritual for the next generation.