The Talent of Living Life Well

Talent. It’s a word we use most frequently to describe artists and athletes—individuals who demonstrate great potential and, ultimately, great performance, throwing that winning pass or painting that memorable image. We might also say that someone is a talented lawyer, a talented teacher, or a talented surgeon—but rarely do we associate the word with simply living.

Dan Millman, my latest Kripalu Perspectives guest, coaches people to do just that. Author of numerous books, including Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Body Mind Mastery, Dan draws on his background as a trampoline champion, Stanford gymnastics coach, martial arts black belt, and professor of movement arts to train people from all walks of life to develop greater talent for living life.

“We have to view our daily activities—what we do at school, work, and at home—as a series of skills,” he says. “In daily living, we need to develop mental and emotional strength, stamina, flexibility, timing, balance, and so on. These build a foundation for success in every facet of life.”

Being successful, of course, is about more than earning large sums of money or being in great shape. Successful people communicate clearly, feel rather than stuff their emotions, create harmony in their relationships, and choose to see the good in life. What’s more, according to Dan, they’re talented at facing what frightens them.

Dan believes that the most important battles we face are those that unfold within, as we confront and learn to overcome the adversaries of self-doubt, insecurity, and fear. He describes the broader context of his work as the “peaceful warrior’s way.” Peaceful warriors, he says, strive to live with a more peaceful heart while drawing upon the warrior spirit within, when necessary. And all warriors encounter fear. It’s a given in this thing called life.

To overcome fears that hinder our talent for living, Dan suggests dreaming big—but starting small and then connecting the dots. “That means when we face a person, situation, or challenge that brings up fear and doubt, we do some small, positive thing to overcome it.” When we learn to leap over small hurdles, we’re more emboldened to take on bigger ones. “Then we begin to welcome the next challenge in the same way athletes do,” Dan says, “because we’ve learned that we can overcome challenges and grow even stronger in the process.”

We all hit physical, emotional, or mental bumps in the road, but Dan says that those who are talented at living remember the adage, “This, too, shall pass.”

“They take things one step at a time,” he says, “coming out the other end stronger, wiser, and more compassionate.” That’s a definition of talent that we can all aspire to.

Find out about upcoming programs with Dan Millman at Kripalu.

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Portland Helmich has been investigating natural health and healing for more than 15 years, as a host, reporter, writer, and producer.

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