Will This Choice Add to My Life Force or Will It Rob Me of My Energy? 
Debbie Ford


Our life force is the key to our survival.  Without it, we cease to exist.  Our life force, which the Chinese call chi, the Japanese call ki, and Ayurveda calls prana, has been described as the vital energy that breathes life into our bodies.  Our life force is the guardian of our minds, our bodies, and our souls.  Asking this Right Question--"Will this choice add to my life force or will it rob me of my energy?"--allows us to see whether the choice we are about to make will strengthen our life force and support us in keeping our inner flame roaring, strong, and vibrant or will rob us of vital energy.  We each have a choice, and with each action we either feed or starve our life force.  This question immediately reminds us that every choice, decision, and action we take has an impact on our deepest selves and our sense of well-being.

Most of us take our life force for granted.  We unconsciously go about our lives thinking that we are immortal, taking our health for granted and ignoring the needs of our bodies.  But in the moments when we are fully awake, we can't help but feel and appreciate the great gift that has been bestowed on us--the gift of being alive.  If each of us were present to how precious our life force is, we would care for it as we would a newborn child.  We would live in awe of the miracle of our existence.  When we are awake to the preciousness of life, we go through our days respecting the fact that our life force needs feeding and nourishment.  We automatically ask ourselves how we can take care of and protect this precious energy.

Each day we are faced with a multitude of choices.  We decide what we will eat, how much rest and exercise we will give our bodies, and at what pace we will go about our daily activities.

Each choice we make either adds to our life force or robs us of our vitality.  In essence we are either growing or dying, expanding or contracting.  Every time we make a choice to nurture our life force, we choose life.  Each time we choose actions that drain us of our energy, we are weakening our internal flame.

It's so easy to forget that our bodies are a delicate gift--a temporary home for our souls.  It's usually only in times of great pain--such as when we are faced with the death of a loved one or a serious illness--that we are aware of the impermanence of life.  In those moments when we come face-to-face with our own mortality or that of our loved ones, we become profoundly aware of how important it is to make choices that strengthen, rather than deplete, our life force.

When our life force is threatened, we desperately look to the outer world to regain our lost vitality.  Anne is a good example of this.  Anne had spent the past seventeen years running around aimlessly trying to get her life together.  Plagued by intense loneliness, she went from husband to husband and boyfriend to boyfriend, only to wind up at age fifty without a mate.  For years she smoked marijuana and cigarettes in an attempt to numb her deep emotional pain.  Over the years, whenever I met with Anne, I sensed this pain.  Anne knew that not only was she a disappointment to herself but she was setting a horrible example for her two now-grown children, whom she loved dearly.

Anne's deepest desire was to be a great mom and have her children respect her.  But she had failed miserably at her goal.  When the pain became too great for her to bear, Anne finally committed to looking at her life with clear eyes.  She knew there was no way she could be a nourishing influence on her children if she continued making choices that diminished her vitality.  Anne made a list of all the behaviors she had been engaging in that were robbing her of her life force.  Her list looked like this:

- I wake up late in the morning.
- I go from job to job, never sticking with anything.
- I smoke pot regularly.
- I smoke cigarettes.
- I hide my behavior from my children.
- I procrastinate paying my bills.
- I show up late.
- I don't keep up with my personal commitments.
- I try to pretend I have it together when I don't.
- I flake out on my children.
- I constantly reprimand myself for all of my bad behaviors.

It was easy for Anne, in reading over her list, to see that she was draining herself of her life force and that a part of her was dying every day because she was choosing behaviors and taking actions that were really self-destructive.  She had known about this for some time but had not been able to change her behavior.  When she saw the items on her list simply as those things that didn't enhance her life force, and not as proof of how worthless she was, her perspective began to shift.

Examining the list, Anne started thinking, "If this is what drains me of my energy and thus my ability to change, what would create the opposite?"  With a lot of courage and some help from friends, Anne made a new list--of choices that would strengthen her life force.  Making the commitment to live her life in a way that was consistent with her vision of being an extraordinary mother and grandmother, she came up with a list of choices that supported her newfound resolve:

- Stop smoking.
- Go to Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
- Hire a life coach.
- Eat foods that nourish my well-being.
- Read daily meditations.
- Move closer to my children.
- Listen with genuine interest to my children's needs and respond accordingly.
- Spend quality time with my grandson.

In less than six months Anne's world began to shift.  Instead of feeling like a failure and hating herself, she began to feel fully alive again.  Her children responded generously by recognizing the shifts that she had made and acknowledging her as a vastly improved mother and a devoted grandmother.

If we keep this question in mind while planning our days, we will see that we actually have countless opportunities to add to our life force.  Being around people and places we love and doing things that give us deep satisfaction, taking time to digest the events in our lives, being less busy, telling the truth, laughing a lot, eating right, exercising regularly, having long talks with those we love--these are among the best ways to nourish our vitality.  Our life force thrives when we are completely engaged in the present moment.

The realities of the life we live today are a result of the choices we made yesterday, three months ago and three years ago. But we don't wind up $50,000 dollars in debt because of one extravagant purchase. Nor do we put on 30 unwanted pounds as a result of a couple of decadent meals. We are where we are because of repeated unconscious choices made day after day. Ford cuts right through our denial with the 10 questions that immediately reveal the true motivations behind our thoughts and actions. But more than that, by rigorously and honestly asking and answering these 10 vital questions, we regain control and have the power necessary to create the life we always wanted.


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