Faith is more than a mere belief, feeling, or set of actions. Faith is a beautiful delusion that will help you live a beautiful life. It’s something you should feel on Christmas Day and every other day, because it’s how you make your dreams come true.
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Today’s episode is the 8th and final episode on living your dream in 2019. This episode is airing on Christmas Day, so it’s very fitting that today we’re talking about faith. I’m Kelly Hollingsworth, and if you’re doubting that you can achieve your dream in 2019, then I’m glad you’re here, because today we’re going to talk about something that can help faith: and we’re going to discuss what it is, why you need it, and where it comes from.
What is Faith?
First, let’s discuss exactly what faith is. Faith is defined as:
- complete trust or confidence in someone or something;
- a strong belief not based on proof;
- allegiance to a duty or a person; or
- something that is believed with especially strong conviction.
Why do we need faith?
I love these definitions, because each one of them reveals something important about achieving a dream.
Consider the first definition: complete trust and confidence in someone or something. The something you have complete trust and confidence in is that the dream can be achieved. The someone can be yourself, or it can be someone who’s guiding you along the way to your dream. If you don’t have complete trust and confidence in yourself, hiring a coach to help you guide you on your journey can be a great way to go, because every great hero in every great story has a guide. Lewis and Clark had Sacagawea. Katniss Everdeen had Haymitch. Allie, in my all time favorite movie, A Star is Born, had Jackson Maine.
Why is this important? Because if you’re not confident that it’s possible to get there, if you don’t trust that the dream can be achieved, what are the chances you’ll take the actions necessary to achieve it? Slim to none, right? What happens without faith in someone, either yourself or your guide, and faith in the outcome, is procrastination. Hesitation. Spinning. Getting mired in mind drama. Holding back when you should be moving forward. So faith of this flavor is very important to achieving your dream. Whenever someone quits on a dream, invariably they say, “I just didn’t think it was going to happen” or “I just didn’t think it was going to happen for me.” Faith is the antidote for those reasons for quitting. Faith prevents us from quitting.
The second definition of faith, a strong belief not based on proof, is equally if not more important. How many times have you said, or heard someone say, “I can’t do it because I’ve never done it before.” When we say and think things like this, we’re looking for proof that we can do it. Not just that other people have done it, but that we can. Faith is the belief that you can do it, absent any proof. Why is this necessary? Again, if you don’t believe you can do it, what are the chances you’re even going to try? We talked in the last episode about my sister making a paradigm shift that she could stop putting herself last, and she said, “I just had to believe that everyone would be okay if I did it.” This belief is what allowed her to make that shift, so believing even in the absence of proof is critical. If you can’t believe, without proof, chances are very good that your dream won’t happen, because if you had proof that your dream were possible, you probably would have already achieved it.
Faith is also an allegiance to a duty or a person, and I love this one, but I’d like to say that the allegiance is ideally to a duty and to a person. The person can be just you, but I think it’s often more effective if it’s others beyond you. It can also include your spouse, your family, or an entire tribe of people. And of course allegiance to a duty is also key, because the duty is where you take the actions that are necessary to bring the dream into fruition. The comedian Vir Das speaks in his standup routines of the beautiful lie. He says that everything we create is at first a beautiful lie in our minds. Harry Potter, for example, was a beautiful lie in the mind of author J.K. Rowling, but she had the faith, meaning, she had allegiance to the story and the characters, and she had allegiance to the duty of putting the words on the page, and she made that beautiful lie come true.
Faith is also something that is believed with especially strong conviction. Notice this part: “especially strong conviction.” I don’t buy into the idea of “only one goal at a time.” Whatever your dream is that you’re trying to achieve, to be sustainable it must make sense in the context of your entire life. It can’t take big aspects of your life and throw them under the bus while you focus on just one thing, or your achievement won’t last, because your life is a symphony, not a drum solo. There are lots of moving parts and you can’t ignore any of them. Also, some goals, such as growing a business, require action. Other goals, such as weight loss, require inaction, i.e. not overeating. So do you have to focus on weight loss at the expense of your business or vice versa? In my mind, no, definitely not, because all the time you no longer spend overeating could be devoted to growing your business. In other words, changing a habit often involves replacing it with a new habit. And if you replace overeating with growing your business, suddenly you’re rich, and you’re thin. Another thing is that when things aren’t working in our businesses, often we overeat out of frustration, so if you really put your focus on solving the things that aren’t working, much of the inspiration to overeat can go away.
So these are just some of the reasons I don’t like the “one goal at a time” idea. However, this idea of “especially strong conviction” is helpful. When we’re trying to achieve something we haven’t yet achieved, putting some especially strong conviction, in other words, practicing believing something that might be a bit more challenging to believe, focusing your faith in a particular area, is a great idea. I know I can brush my teeth every day. No faith needed there, so I should direct my faith to the places where it’s going to be the most valuable.
Where does Faith Come From?
All of these definitions are helpful, but I’m not sure they get at exactly what faith is. According to some, faith is a belief. A belief is a thought that we think over and over again.
Others describe faith as a feeling. This makes sense, too. A hint that faith is a feeling (aka an emotion), is that it’s described with one word. We usually use a single word to describe emotions: happy, angry, sad, frustrated, gleeful. So that it’s one word is a good sign that faith is a feeling.
But faith is also described as an action. Focus on the family, a Christian-based organization, for example, says that faith means acting on what God says in spite of our opinions, our experience, or our education. In other words, faith can mean taking actions that aren’t in accordance with the way your own brain would have you go, and that’s certainly an interesting way to look at things. If you want to make a paradigm shift, that involves going against your own current opinions, education, and experiences, and so this reveals why faith is critical in making a paradigm shift.
So is faith just a belief, a feeling, or an action? Is it all of those three things? I think it goes beyond even those three things. Last night I experienced faith as a vision. I was in church for a relative of my family, it was a funeral. We were all standing and listening to the song Love can Build a Bridge. Some were even singing along, and I had a vision of myself in that moment, swimming in the ocean, feeling completely weightless and happy. In this vision, I was at my ideal weight and healthy and strong and healed, and I felt on a deep level that all of this was possible for me.
This vision about being at my ideal weight may seem a little shallow to have in church, but it cut through all layers of my being. It didn’t feel shallow at all. It took my breath away. I literally felt that I was moving toward light, in more ways than one. I felt that I was moving towards a lighter body, a lighter way of being in the world, a lighter way of seeing thing, the ability to swim in that way, which I thus far can’t really do anymore since my hiking injury from a few years ago. Experiencing that vision, I just felt light in every sense of the word, and I started weeping in church. Fortunately we were at a funeral so no one thought that this was especially weird, but it was one of the more profound experiences of my life so I thought I would share it with you.
This moment felt like it was a key part of my weight-loss story. In every story, there’s an all-is-lost moment that’s sharpened or intensified by what screenplay instructor Blake Snyder calls the whiff of death. The whiff of death signals the death of the old way that doesn’t work, and the character finds a new way that does work. This is the integration concept or the third way that I spoke about, I think in Episode 42. When I had this vision, it felt like that’s what was happening. Because I was standing there at the funeral, before I had the vision thinking, there’s going to be a bunch of snacks after the funeral. I don’t want to overeat them, but I do want to overeat them, my mind was going in a million circles. And then I had this vision, and suddenly I had no interest in the snacks and whether I was or wasn’t going to eat them. I just had a picture of something far bigger and more satisfying than the snacks that the church ladies were putting out.
So the question is, where did this vision come from, as I was standing in the church listening to Love will Build a Bridge during the funeral? Did it come from God? Did I conjure it up myself? Did it come from Naomi and Wynona Judd? We can’t possibly know for sure.
Whatever any one of us believes about the source of this vision, whether it came from God or my own brain or the Judds, we believe out of faith. Maybe some people won’t believe it happened at all. Maybe they’ll think I’m not being truthful about it, or that it was a delusion.
Faith is a delusion
And this illustrates a very important point. Faith, in the minds of some and in whatever context, is a delusion. If you believe you can reach your dream weight, some people will say you’re delusional. If you believe you can build your dream business, some people will say you’re delusional. If you have a strong faith in God or the Judds or yourself or the power of your own mind, and you get a vision at a funeral one night in church, some will definitely say you’re delusional.
But the faithful believe anyway. They believe and they feel and they act, all out of faith. In this respect, faith feels a lot like waterskiing. It’s the only sport I was every really good at besides running so stay with me here. When you’re first starting out as a water-skier, you’re on two skis. But as you improve, you put more weight on one ski, and let weight off of the other, until eventually you just kick off that extra ski and you’re skiing slalom, where you have so much more control, and where it’s infinitely more fun.
This is how I view faith. You have a belief that you can do it, even though you’ve never done it before, until eventually you’ve kicked away all that’s unnecessary, just let it go in the wake of your past, and then it’s just you, skiing in the sun and the wind and the spray of the water because you had the faith that you could do it.
How do you get this beautiful delusion for yourself? You focus on it. You put yourself in places where it can happen. You join with other people. You go to the funerals. You celebrate the lives of your loved ones. You listen to music. You engage in life. You read. You consume story in every form: movies, novels, documentaries. I think faith goes deeper than our thoughts. I think faith involves connecting to something that is bigger than just you. I was hesitating to go to that funeral last night. I’m behind in my work, I have lots of work to do, and it was a stretch for me to go. But I went, and in being with a group of people, and in hearing the music and in celebrating the life of our loved one, I experienced a vision of faith. So I think faith comes not just from inside your own head. Your brain has to be open to receiving it, but I think you get it from engaging with other people, from expending your energy, and from engaging with life. We’ll talk a lot more next year on how to develop your faith. Those are my thought for today. However you get it, I want this beautiful delusion of faith for all of us, on Christmas Day, or whatever your holy day happens to be. I want you to believe, even if there’s no proof. And I hope you bring this faith with you into 2019, because we’re going to use it to make all of our dreams come true. I hope you’ll join me for that, and I thank you for listening.