“Enough Is Enough” – Create an Extraordinary Life
If your life has become an exercise in survival or sameness, it’s time to stop enduring. In her new book, Jane Straus explains how to stop enduring and start thriving.
Life can and should be an adventure in joy, excitement, and inspiration. But too many people drag through the day in a mild (or even severe) state of boredom, anxiety, or depression. Perhaps you’re one of them. Well, you may be thinking, I would be happier if I didn’t have to keep this job, but without my high salary we couldn’t afford our house. Or, I would love to go back to work, but my husband insists that our kids need a full-time mom.
Or, it’s too late for me to __________ (fill in the blank).
If you can relate to any of these scenarios – or more to the point, the dismal feelings related to them – you’re not really living, says seminar leader and personal coach Jane Straus. What you’re doing is enduring.
“Endurance is not the same as perseverance. We persevere when we have a higher goal in mind. Our spirit is engaged when we are persevering. On the other hand, we endure when we think we don’t have the right to whatever we feel or the right to choose an extraordinary life,” writes Straus in her book Enough Is Enough!: Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life (Jossey-Bass, August 2005, ISBN: 0-7879-7988-0, $22.95). “Most of us succumb to a life of endurance with little, if any, resistance because we do not believe we are worthy of more. If we wake up most mornings feeling anxious, bored, or numb, looking toward some imagined future time when we will feel happier, then we are enduring.”
“When we are enduring, we try to convince ourselves that surviving is the same as thriving,” she adds. “We tell ourselves that it should be enough that we made it through another day, earned our daily bread, performed our duties, and possibly helped others. But when we are merely surviving, we feel resigned, not inspired, exhausted, but not accomplished. We know that something is missing, but we don’t know exactly what or how to go about finding it.”
In Enough Is Enough!, Straus illuminates the suffering created by self-judgments and inattention to our deeper truths and inspires readers with the courage and conviction to embrace their inherent value and dreams with joy, self-respect, and compassion. Citing examples from the lives of her clients and seminar participants–and sharing some poignant stories from her own life–she clarifies the chain reaction of emotional, spiritual, and physical suffering triggered the moment one chooses endurance. In the process, she helps readers overcome their fears, break their destructive patterns, and become true to themselves.
Here are a few insights from Straus’s book:
If you have continued to invest in a relationship, a career, or even a lifestyle just because you have already spent so much on it, remember that whatever you spent is gone anyway. Don’t waste one more minute or one more ounce of emotional energy on something that keeps you enduring. Become a volunteer, not a victim, by participating in your life consciously, sanely, and humanely.
Fortunately, we are entitled to live in an alternate and much more humane universe: Classroom Earth, where we are allowed to learn by questioning the authority of our beliefs, making mistakes, and giving ourselves compassion. It’s plausible to think that getting from the Courtroom to the Classroom is a long road. But in fact, we’ll find that we can walk out of one room and into the other instantly, with just a little preparation and practice.
When you embrace F.E.A.R. as “False Evidence Appearing Real,” you will stop running from it and start using it as your ally. You will let fear become one of your teachers and your lessons will come more easily. When you give up the idea that you have to keep running from yourself, your self-judgments, and your fears, you are able to begin to pay attention to your mind chatter of I’m too this, I’m not enough that, I’ll never have what I want, and I don’t deserve it anyway. Then you can shift your focus and ask, “What does my spirit want and need?”
Straus asks, “Since water makes up two-thirds of our bodies, is it too much to extrapolate that our thoughts, intentions, and words affect us in very real ways? Do we really believe that sticks and stones will break our bones but names will never hurt us?” For us to live an extraordinary life, we must imagine best-case scenarios and hold life-affirming thoughts.
All Donald’s reasons for not having a garden seemed real, but despite his excuses, he was dissatisfied. He longed to create a soul-soothing garden of earthy scents and beauty. Donald told himself to stop wanting more, yet his spirit knew what it longed for. Consequently, none of his reasons could appease him entirely, and he found himself envying his clients and resenting them for seemingly taking for granted the privilege of having a lovely garden.
One day Donald decided that enough was enough. He began exploring the limiting beliefs that were keeping him in endurance and came up with a deep-rooted (excuse the pun) belief and self-judgment: “I’ve always thought that I would never have what other people have. To top it off, I’ve also believed that I shouldn’t want what others have – that envy is a sin. I guess it’s no wonder I can’t seem to let myself enjoy having a garden!”
Donald saw clearly how these thoughts had created his current dilemma and realized that it all came down to a choice between his fears and what his spirit truly valued. Fortunately, Donald chose his spirit. He created a simple affirmation: “I, Donald, deserve to enjoy the same gifts I give to others.” He reinforced his affirmation in small ways at first – by treating himself to a new shirt when he bought his daughter an outfit and buying flowers for his apartment when he sent roses to a hospitalized friend.
Remarkably, he began shifting out of his habitual endurance pattern, and within two years, Donald founded a neighborhood community garden on some vacant land in the city. His personal plot within the garden was so breathtakingly beautiful that it became a destination spot for tourists.
To make room for his dreams to come true, Donald called on his spirit’s deeper truth and guidance. In doing so, he created magic, not just for himself, but for others as well. Donald literally transformed something ordinary into something extraordinary – and it all began with a shift in his thinking.
Ultimately, says Straus, once we begin living authentically by abiding by our deeper truth, we will find that every aspect of our lives is transformed. That’s why the decision to stop enduring is an act of enormous courage and commitment.
“Living our truths cannot be for some future goal or noble end,” she writes. “Our commitment to releasing judgments and limiting beliefs, practicing affirmations, honoring our emotions, and speaking our truth is the daily tonic for creating an extraordinary life. Try as we may, we cannot compartmentalize our lives. To live in our truth is to allow our spirit’s energy into every cell of our being and into our every thought and action because who wants their epitaph to read that their greatest accomplishment in life was that they completed their to-do list?”
For more than 20 years Jane Straus has maintained a private practice coaching individuals, couples, and families using the principles found in Enough Is Enough! She also speaks to various groups, provides consulting services for companies trapped in negative cultural patterns, and conducts in-depth seminars for organizations and individuals from all walks of life.
Jane’s extensive list of clients has included the National Geographic Society, Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Health Services, and National Park Service; nonprofit organizations such as the Sacramento and San Francisco AIDS Foundations, Yolo County Battered Women’s Shelter, Davis Free Clinic, and Friends of the River; plus numerous hospitals and law firms.
She has been featured in the Sacramento Bee newspaper for her groundbreaking work and appeared as a guest expert on the CBS nationally syndicated program Can This Marriage Be Saved? She is the recipient of the Outstanding Young Woman of America Award.
In addition to Enough Is Enough!, Jane has written and self-published The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation (grammarbook.com). This easy-to-use reference guide and workbook – which is often purchased in bulk by executives who recognize that proper grammar is increasingly important in the marketplace – has won numerous awards, including recognition by the BBC.
You can find “Enough Is Enough!: Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life” (Jossey-Bass, August 2005, ISBN: 0-7879-7988-0, $22.95) at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, and josseybass.com.
For more information, visit stopenduring.com.