I like the idea of leap years. Unless you are something like Mr. Groundhog, running away if circumstances don’t suit him (the February version of the Grinch, if you ask me), you probably do too. Yes, the calendar is technically just a measurement. Yes, one extra box doesn’t necessarily actually add up to an extra day of life… but there’s still something a bit exciting about the idea of one EXTRA day. And one day dedicated to LEAPING, at that.
What does it mean to LEAP?
No, it most certainly does not mean being ready. To leap. No no no… absolutely not. Being ready defeats the purpose of leaping.
Leaping is getting ready to tumble, getting ready to fall. Getting ready for the thrill. Of possibly flying.
And if you fall? Everyone falls. Not everyone gets back up. Again, again, and again. Until they are truly are flying.
So how do you LEAP? Well, I’ll tell you a secret… It’s a practice, really. An art. The art of LEAPing.
The Secrets of Leaping:
1) Practice being a champion. Complete that task you just don’t think you can finish, do that last set of reps all the way through at the end of your workout, go ahead and attempt that yoga balancing pose… and breathe through it. Focus your mind. Feel your strength inside. Steer away from feeling or believing that success is conditional, that it has something to do with the perfect day (the sun is shining) or the perfect timing (good thing that meeting happened in the afternoon once I finally had lunch and wasn’t grouchy) and recognize that being a champion is a consistent state of potential.
2) Cultivate appreciation. Are you waking up and smiling because today is a new day and it’s yours to shape in whatever way you choose? Everyone has circumstances which may at first feel inhibiting. It is the most difficult of circumstances that are the greatest easel. Suffering “carves out the bowl” for happiness (as Kahlil Gibran once wrote). Take the time to recognize the small things and the people whom you can appreciate in your life- both those who are only there for a fleeting moment as well as those who are at the core of your life story. Appreciation reduces cortisol levels in the blood, lengthening and improving quality of life. Improved quality of life = a stronger platform for leaping.
3) Get an A+ in emotional intelligence. What’s your EQ? Are you able to recognize your own emotions as well as those of others and where they may be coming from, what caused them? Are you able to work through your emotions and manage them in a healthy way? The five major elements of emotional intelligence are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Mastering your emotions (no, not stuffing them down or turning your back on them- that’s them mastering you) generates a strength in flexibility rather than rigidity. Now your platform can bounce and you can get a head start in the leaping.
4) Eat for superhero insides. Ever try to go on a roller coaster and your stomach just wouldn’t handle it? Here’s how to get prepared for that leap: eat a superhero diet. Foods that are either not the best for your constitution or foods which are irritants in nature (high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, excessive amounts of coffee or spices, to name a few) can either wear down your GI lining or increase acidity or both. This has a direct effect on your emotions, increasing the likelihood of you being a grump or feeling down and depressed (FYI: your GI tract contains more neurons than your spinal cord and research on significance with regard to emotions is still underway). Emotional intelligence is certainly helpful but your body needs to be in full support of the move forward. If a cheerleader doesn’t have a sound place to sleep, is she going to be as peppy?
5) Learn how to fall. This is the only way you’ll learn how to fly. Fall in front of others. Fall in front of yourself. And laugh. Once you see that it doesn’t hurt as much as you thought it would or you find that you can pull yourself back up despite it all, is when you’ll get over falling. It’s when you won’t mind. You won’t mind showing others your bruises. Because you can be proud of them. And you can appreciate yourself in all your imperfection- which is perfect.
6) Go after your dreams. This is part two of step 1. You have a dream? Make it happen. There are no in-between steps. Yes, of course there is planning. And that’s helpful. But when it comes to actually making it happen there is no step in between the one where you lift your foot and jump off that cliff (ehem, strong, bouncing platform) into the reality of your dreams. Remember, the feeling of “being ready” is a myth when it comes to leaping.
Happy Leap Year!