New Deal

by Joel L, Western Australia

These pages are filled with some amazing stories, all with a common theme: people talking about a new found sense of self that appears to have stemmed from taking a deeper level of responsibility for, and commitment to, themselves. The term given for this way of living has been called the ‘Way of the Livingness’.

I am also a student of the Way of the Livingness and can say that the ‘me’ I am re-discovering is, without a question, the real me. In fact, it is that part of me I have wanted to connect to for most of my life. The simplest part about the Way of the Livingness is that it didn’t ask me to follow a set diet or regime. All it asked was for me to pay attention to the choices I was making and the effect they had on me. Over time, I noticed it made a difference when I slept, what I ate and how I exercised; in fact there was very little that I did, that did not make a difference to how I felt.

In the past some of these choices became ‘needs’ or ‘demands’ – they became a regime I had to follow. As such, I was adding stress to try to improve well-being. With the ‘Way of the Livingness’, each choice I make connects me to a part of me that feels so amazing, so solid, so true, that making all those choices does not feel like a chore, a sacrifice or a drain. In fact, eight years on and I am more relaxed, I have more energy, time and productivity – yet I am more dedicated to the detail of my life than ever before.

However, I have noticed a limit in what I can ‘improve’ in my life through these lifestyle and diet choices, and that the intention I have with any given task is what makes a profound difference. This means at some point I needed to move the focus from what I am doing in each moment, to how I am in each moment. In fact, ‘how I am’ comes before anything I do, and the ‘how’ often determines the ‘what’.

Sit with that for a moment, as there is a huge difference – there is a real possibility that there has been a difference between ‘who I have been’ in all my actions and ‘who I really am’ in my essence.

The wonderful part is the possibility that I might be able to stop wasting energy with all those things I have chosen so that the world would see me a certain way. It has been huge for me to realise I made a contract with the world many, many years ago: the contract was that if I act in a certain way, the world would leave me alone. If I worked hard, was a good dad, a good husband and a nice guy, other people would accept me… in fact people might even praise me.

This is not to say that the ‘real me’ is not all those things, but that when I do them to hide or because I think I should do them, to gain the acceptance, or to fly ‘under the radar’, it feels very different to when I do them because I choose to. The reality is, the only reason the choice to show ‘me’ feels scary is because I have spent so much time living behind the ‘front’ that the world has come to expect.

What makes the contract I bought into ridiculous, is that it hasn’t been all roses and caviar. Some of the roles I agreed to play included giving my power away to others, feeling despondent at times, being the provider (for others, but not for myself), and putting a lot of effort into hiding behind Mr Nice.

In truth, the contract was a bum deal, yet I signed up to it and paid my dues every day with every action and every breath… my payoff was I got to keep hiding. So if I was out and people were drinking heavily and I felt tired, Mr Nice would match their drinking so as to not be left out or stand out – while the real me wanted to thank them for the evening and excuse myself. Hiding was also joining in when a group of guys started talking about sports, cars, or denigrating women – while the real me wanted to say ‘I’m not that into sports’, and offer another topic.

By being ‘the same’ I can hide, by being ‘me’ it sometimes feels like I am very visible in that moment. Even though being visible feels true, real and lovely, the temptation to blend in was, and to a degree still is, very strong.

So on one hand there is a love so true that it asks nothing but for me to be with it (be with me): on the other, a contract so draining that it hurts to feel the fatigue in my body from trying to live up to it.

You would think the choice to stand as me, with all the joy and vitality that brings, would be a no-brainer, but I still feel the tug of that contract niggling at me to not buck the system. At times others don’t like the fact that I am changing the rules I live by… but maybe it’s because they have been hiding too, and need me to not change. At times I don’t want to feel all the joy that is there to feel because it reminds me of the time I have wasted.

I am still finding ‘clauses’ in the contract that I didn’t realise I had signed up for, but regardless of this fact, the ‘Way of the Livingness’ is a new deal I am making with myself. 

223 thoughts on “New Deal

  1. “So on one hand there is a love so true that it asks nothing but for me to be with it (be with me): on the other, a contract so draining that it hurts to feel the fatigue in my body from trying to live up to it.” So interesting how we can still opt for the latter, even though we know and feel to our bones the truth of the former…

  2. Love what you have said here Joel – The Way of The Livingness never tells a person what to do. As you have beautifully said “All it asked was for me to pay attention to the choices I was making and the effect they had on me.” and from here we can then make changes as we choose to.

  3. “At times I don’t want to feel all the joy that is there to feel because it reminds me of the time I have wasted.” I love your honesty here Joel – but if we go into regret we can dwell on that and actually it then becomes an indulgence. Instead we can start to deeply appreciate the choices that we are making to no longer do that and then we get to feel the joy, and so does everyone else!

  4. Reading the small print on this contract we have all signed takes some doing and requires us to hone in on the details. In fact, some details are so minute that it takes some time for them to come to the surface as if etched invisibly into the paper but ultimately all has to come to the surface to reveal itself.

  5. I know what you mean. When signing the contract with hiding Life seemed easier. When I decided not to hide, there is pressure from everywhere to go back to that hiding for comfort. But there is a way which we live consistently despite this pressure in joy.

  6. We certainly could do with a ‘New Deal’ as the old deal of not upsetting the status quo is failing us…we are failing ourselves and each other when we live less than the essential beings we are.

  7. Thank you for this honest insightful article Joel. Written in 2012 the principles do not change though as our awareness grows our experiences reflect the same. This for me ever remains true, “In fact, ‘how I am’ comes before anything I do, and the ‘how’ often determines the ‘what’.”

    1. Beautifully said Victoria – this article has not dated and all that Joel has shared is still relevant today. How we are is the quality that we bring to the what we do, and this is a wonderful revelation for anyone and has been super important for me to remind myself of all of the time.

  8. When we make the facade on the outside of us the priority, we can tend to disregard the depth and potential of who we and others really are in essence.

  9. Great to read this again Joel, it’s very true about the effort it takes to live an untrue version of ourselves, we are literally fighting against being the natural essence of who we are with each move we make. How much more energy must we have when we let all of who we naturally are out, including all of our love?

  10. We are constantly making contracts by what we choose to jump into, think about, talk about or desire, and these arrangements can be incredibly tricky to get out of. The question is – what do we truly want from life – and what do we want to jump with both feet into?

  11. I think people need people that can be themselves, so that we can get out of this mess we have created for ourselves, us humans. If you look at it we don’t have much true joy in our lives. We have things that makes us happy for a moment or two but it doesn’t last. And considering the huge amount of illness and disease that we are facing as a human species we have to admit that something is disturbingly wrong. And that could be that we have been living to ideals and beliefs of how we should be instead of living the true version of us. That might rock the boat as you say but boy do we miss that, I miss that, and feel more and more how important it is to live what is true, what else can there be?

    1. I know how important it’s been for me to have people in my life that live the fullness of who they are, so I can understand the importance of your comment Matts of how we too can be that for others.

  12. “I am still finding ‘clauses’ in the contract that I didn’t realise I had signed up for” The more I live The Way of The Livingness the more clauses I discover I had not realised I had signed up for and hence the more I discover the truth of myself.

  13. I agree Joel, there is no set of rules to live by just a simplicity and clarity in being present with ourselves, making choices that feel true from what we feel in our body and committing to bringing a true quality to the way in which we live from our essence.

  14. I have not allowed myself to feel joy because another wasn’t feeling it! Why wait when I know it is screaming to be let out?! It is not my responsibility if another is not feeling the same as me… my purpose is to be true to me.

  15. Life for adults is not very different to the school yard, there is cool group apparently which is just a majority, and people feeling they want to be accepted and changing themselves to fit in. There seems to be this huge weight on us all to not be ourselves, and perhaps it could be said that we have developed a culture that doesn’t readily accept others as they are. Why else would we all be playing the game of contracts? This is a great line too Joel, “the ‘Way of the Livingness’, each choice I make connects me to a part of me that feels so amazing.” In its most simple explanation we could say that The Way of the Livingness is being (and living) who we truly are in every part of life.

  16. I feel sure the contracts we signed to be less than who we truly are, came from an evil source that is devoid of love and who did not want us to live as the divine beings that we truly are. They were drawn up so as to appeal to our need for comfort and our fear of what we would attract if we stood in our full power, and I feel deeply saddened by the fact that I willingly signed one of these agreements and failed to decipher the hidden agenda within them. Since I discovered the Way of The Livingness I have annulled this contract and am discovering how beautiful it is to be uncovering and living as the true me and to know that this is an ever deepening process.

  17. I so agree that the choice to stand as our true self with all the joy and vitality really is a no-brainer, yet I can feel how I am still shying away from going all the way in full throttle and instead leave a little margin.

  18. I love the simplicity you have highlighted here Joel with which we are able to initiate true change to our health and well-being through making choices that feel true from our body, which communicates very clearly to us when something is not right and when something feels true.

  19. ‘by being ‘me’ it sometimes feels like I am very visible in that moment’ and that for me (and many others!) is often the crux of it … that we’ve made a deal to blend in, to not stand out. To be us we need to undo that deal.

  20. What I love so much about reading blogs like is I find perfect gems to read at exactly the right time. I’ve become very aware of how much I can sell out to the world all as part of a deal that says if I do this, you’ll leave me alone and my part in it to choose to hide, and fit in, and as I’m increasingly uncomfortable with this and noticing how much it hurts my body, I’m beginning to stand me in what I feel and let people see me and just be me … there’s lots of old habits and indeed comforts to break in this, but as I unravel more of them, I get to see and feel how I am and that in fact Increasingly I want to be me, and not the facade I’ve bought into. There’s lots of adjustment with this and there will be more but I couldn’t imagine being on any journey other than this one … back to living more and more who I am.

  21. This is so so true and there is a growing awareness of how much time and energy we can waste looking and walking in the wrong direction. The wrong direction being further away from who we truly are. When we put life back on track or back into flow it becomes simple and dare I say easier because firstly you aren’t fighting yourself, you actually own feelings which already takes up an enormous amount of time and energy and secondly you aren’t fighting the world around you. The Way of The Livingness awakes us back to the fact of what we are truly feeling and we can use all our energy to fight this fact or we can surrender ourselves back to this fact and allow ourselves to be true be in all, that is our power.

  22. Joel your words “yet I am more dedicated to the detail of my life than ever before” really resonated with me, since I have started to really take responsibility for my choices and feel far more connected with myself, I find that I enjoy the detail, and it keeps me focused on what I’m doing at the time.

  23. I agree Joel, it is a waste of our energy when we make choices from the perspective of wanting the world to see us a certain way. It presents a falseness to people and they feel the holding back and guardedness which also puts them on guard. Opening up and expressing from the truth of how we are feeling presents a realness and people feel the truth in the words that are expressed which allows them to open up too.

  24. The attention to ‘what I am doing’ in each moment to ‘how I am’ in each moment is to be present in everything we do or are. How often do we easily switch off and not be responsible for our actions?

    I loved reading this blog, it’s dissected everything and no stone is left unturned, nothing can be missed and there’s always more to explore. Something I used to think was just to do with life – what a turn around……

  25. Very inspiring Joel to read your blog and the process for you of living the real and true self, not the one that moulds and compromises to fit in. “So on one hand there is a love so true that it asks nothing but for me to be with it (be with me): on the other, a contract so draining that it hurts to feel the fatigue in my body from trying to live up to it.” Thank you for this line, it’s exactly what I’m experiencing at the moment – awesome!

  26. The truth is the contracts we make keep us small, exhausted and always searching for more, making a new deal with The Way of The Livingness is a powerful choice that feels expansive, more loving and supports us every step of the way… and this new deal is the reflection humanity needs to pull them towards this truth and this grandness of love that everyone is deeply craving.

    1. The beautiful thing is the love is always there and always has been, it’s who we are, so as we begin to live the love we are, it’s becomes about letting go of living to conditions and compromises.

  27. I love your playfulness, Joel, around this very seriously damaging contract that you, me and many others have signed up to. What on earth were we thinking? It took The Way of The Livingness to show me there is a different way to live . . . a way where there is no need to sign our self away . . . a way the in fact does the polar opposite and signs us in to committing to be all that ‘we are’ instead of all that ‘we are not’.

  28. I too have ripped up the ‘old deal’ that I had made with life, one where I pretended to be someone that I was not, someone who ended up struggling through life, not really enjoying it for much of the time. The ‘new deal’, that I have chosen to live these days is also The Way of The Livingness, a way of living which asks nothing of me but to be all that I am; no pretending, no struggling, just a very joy-filled and truth-filled way of being.

    1. Thank you Ingrid, lovely to read your comment and this line “The Way of The Livingness, a way of living which asks nothing of me but to be all that I am…”

  29. ‘All it asked was for me to pay attention to the choices I was making and the effect they had on me.’ By taking an increasingly more honest look at ourselves and our behaviours we can see how we are keeping ourselves back from living at full capacity. We begin to feel our potential as we dare to let go of some of our former restrictive patterns. As we express more of ourselves, our new found selves, we find there is even more to us than we had imagined and we begin to feel the joy of these discoveries and begin to live with that joy instead of the highs and lows of the existence we had formerly been in.

  30. “the ‘how’ often determines the ‘what’” so true. When I am the real and amazing me in every move I make then I do not choose to do something that dulls that shine.

  31. It really does rock the boat when what the world expects of us we no longer do but the real me comes from me, comes from within me, my essence and not from any belief, ideal or picture of what I should do or how I should be.

  32. “By being ‘the same’ I can hide, by being ‘me’ it sometimes feels like I am very visible in that moment.” And with that visibility we can change the world as the other can feel that there is an other way to life – to fit in and be not visible is a role most of us like to play so that we do not rock the boat so to speak – it is more comfortable.

  33. This is such a clever and cute expression, you have a way with words Joel, a way that touches me deeply. I am being tugged at the moment, I am struggling to hold myself and not just go into the blending pot that makes up most of what I see around me. Why you might ask am I struggling to remain me? One of the reasons is the fear of makings others uncomfortable but when I read inspiring blogs like this, it makes me remember that life is about reflecting truth.

    1. When I have felt the discomfort in another because I have not behaved in a way that was expected I have gone into feeling guilty for upsetting them. I would worry because of what I had created blaming myself but I am beginning to realise and become aware of what is important – putting them first and their needs or choosing love and being true to me?

    2. Maybe it is supportive for others to feel un-comfort-able, as it can offer an opportunity to be inspired to live in a new way, one that doesn’t mean dancing to a contract, but simply being ourselves. There is a comfort in allowing life to stay the same, to not change, to enjoin, or more succinctly to not return to who we each truly are. From this perspective it could be said that to be un-comfort-able is s very good thing!

  34. Me too. How I see and experience myself and my life has completely changed since I encountered The Way of The Livingness. It’s not that I started giving myself a set of new rules to live by, but just one simple choice to come back and connect to my inner-most, that is all it takes, then other choices follow. If I wobble, whoops, I keep coming back soon or later.

  35. An honest and poignant sharing, thank-you Joel. I’m with you, with all that I have embraced today in living The Way of The Livingness, as my religious way… In this, there are no contracts, zilch. And as we deepen in our return to all that we truly are (the ‘real us’ as you say…), we meet those areas of life where we have signed ourselves over to a contract, however seemingly unconsciously so…
    What liberation it (truly) is to be able to break these things down – drop the role of ‘nice’, of ‘provider’, of ‘good daughter’, ‘looking after everyone else first’… or whatever we have donned, and realise that beneath all of this is a greatness of being that has never ever dimmed or gone anywhere, but simply been blanketed by the falsity we’ve wilfully chosen.

  36. I love what you are saying here Joel about The Way of The Livingness. It has also been my experience that it is not a set of rules or tenets that you have to follow in order to find yourself (as many self-help techniques claim to offer) but rather it says stop and connect to who you are and actually feel the quality of your essence and then apply that to your life and you will know the changes that need to be made to sustain that connection with yourself and everyone else. A very different philosophy for me and it makes all the difference.

  37. We become masters of ‘fitting in’ to avoid reaction from others. Even though reactions don’t feel very nice, they are actually a confirmation that we are doing well and reflecting a point of difference that can make people feel uncomfortable about their own choices to not live and reflect their true quality also.

  38. “I am still finding ‘clauses’ in the contract that I didn’t realise I had signed up for, but regardless of this fact, ‘The Way of The Livingness’ is a new deal I am making with myself.” A beautiful conclusion showing that there is always more to explore and uncover about ourselves.

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