The Secret to a Life of Purpose

Create daily practices that turn chaos into calmness.

Posted Sep 01, 2020

Eric Maisel
The Power of Daily Practice
Source: Eric Maisel

This post is part one of a series of posts on the psychological and practical benefits of daily practice. In this series, I’ll explore the elements of daily practice, varieties of daily practice, challenges to daily practice, and strategies for meeting those challenges. Please join me in learning more about this important subject! Complete information can be found in The Power of Daily Practice.  

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I want to share with you a simple idea that can make a big difference in your life: the idea of “daily practice.” Until you understand the power and the logic of daily practice and until you put daily practices into place, you’re unlikely to lead the purposeful life you’ve always dreamed of living. Daily practice is that important!   

Daily practice is as much about paying attention to your life purpose choices as it is about getting something done. If your daily practice were just the way you got your novel written, got adept at yoga, calmed yourself through meditation, paid good attention to your health, or built your online business, that would be valuable enough. But it is really much more than that. It is an invaluable way to make daily meaning and to live your life purposes.

Let’s start with the simple idea that there are likely things that you want to get done. Many people want to get a particular thing done that requires that they show up in a daily way or in a regular way. The “thing” that they may be wanting to get done might be anything from building their online business to writing their novel, from exercising to playing their musical instrument, from maintaining recovery from an addiction to building up their health after an illness. Most people have several of these “to do” things that would greatly benefit from daily or regular attention.

At the same time, people find creating and maintaining a daily practice very hard to do. In working with creative and performing artists as, first, a therapist, and, for the last 30 years, as a creativity coach, I’ve worked with countless clients who want to get to their creative work in a regular way—and who can’t seem to manage to do that. There is always something they can point to as the culprit—too much busyness, not enough time, too many distractions and interruptions, etc. But in their heart of hearts they know that they could be doing a better job of showing up.

What is preventing them from doing the thing that they would love to be doing or the thing that they really need to be doing? There are many reasons for their difficulties, among them that their thoughts are likely not supporting their intentions, that the thing they mean to do may be harder than they wish it would be, that positive results do not accumulate fast enough to provide ongoing motivation, that they have doubts about the meaningfulness of the thing they intend to be doing, and many more. The list of reasons why it’s so hard to maintain a daily practice is very long.

Given these many challenges, what can help? A daily practice can help. What do I mean by “having a daily practice”? I’m guessing that, while you probably have never spelled out the idea of daily practice, you nevertheless have an intuitive understanding of what the idea might mean. It is the way that you take your existence seriously, one breath at a time, one thought at a time, one moment at a time. It is your daily routine of paying attention where you have set your intentions. It looks like the silence of deep space filled with the brilliant fire of a single star. It is you spending a significant amount of time every day focused in one direction.

Maybe you are focused on writing poetry. Then yours is a daily writing practice. That is the way you turn your passion for creating into poetry. Your writing practice is you attending every day to one of the loves of your life, poetry. You sit there and you write your poem. You do that again tomorrow and again the next day. That is a writing practice.

What exactly are you practicing? Being your human best. How exactly are you practicing? By entering the space that you’ve created and by staying put. And what if you’re anxious and afraid? Then you strive to manage that anxiety. And if some fear remains, you practice anyway.

Where exactly do you start your practice? You start your practice where you are. Where else can you start it? You can only start it right where you are, deficient, proficient, anxious, calm, ready, unsteady. Maybe you would like to start your practice in another place? No; you must start it where you are. Is it time to start?