Do you ever wish you were someone or somewhere else?
Being you isn't good enough, and you feel like you need to work harder than ever to change?
I've had those thoughts as well, and they don't feel very good. As musicians, it's easy for us to compare ourselves to others, and usually when we do this, it hurts us more than it helps. It makes us think negatively about ourselves, which, in my experience does not inspire me to want to practice. It makes me want to eat ice cream and watch not-so-great SNL episodes on Hulu...
Relatively recently, I've been able to be around some amazing people, like my wife Emily (who does amazing work with creative people), and others that think highly about themselves, don't compare, and are incredible at being completely happy about where they are in life, and creating from that place. I can totally feel it rubbing off on me.
What does this mean?
Well for one, I'm choosing to focus fully on my life. What other people do doesn't affect me. I can choose to get angry or frustrated at people, or I can choose to ignore, or act passively. Everything is up to me. I CREATE MY LIFE.
In regards to practicing and being a professional musician, it's like there's been a curtain lifted, and I can see what I want to practice and how I can accomplish those goals much more clearly. I feel like big parts of my ego have shriveled up and died, releasing me from pain that I've felt in the recent past due to fear, living in the past or future, or comparing myself to other musicians.
One other thing - I've realized THERE IS NO END POINT. Yea, we all want to become better improvisers or whatever, but if you are a person always striving for perfection, you're never gonna feel like you've done enough, and you'll never feel the happy, fulfilling feelings of accomplishment, relaxation, and content.
That is why it's so freaking important to appreciate your ability and playing RIGHT NOW. In this moment. Scratch that - LOVE your playing in this moment. You are absolutely amazing at sounding like yourself - a unique, flawless version of YOU. Yes, there is always more music to learn, but you've already learned so much, and you've already become a better player because of that. It's just going to get better and better. Isn't that great?
How to practice this:
There are many different ways in which I practice loving myself. The important thing to remember is that loving yourself is a practice - life is a practice. The more that you practice, the more changes you'll feel.
- Meditate - take 15 minutes out of your day to actively ignore fear, worry, and anxiety. Be in the present moment, and practice being aware of your breath or tension in your body.
- Do something creative that doesn't involve "working hard" at your instrument - I've just started getting into cooking, and it allows me to have a great time, without any pressure. Cooking has helped me practice being creative and having fun at the same time. I've also learned that there are a lot of similarities between learning how to cook and learning an instrument.
- Practice enjoying every note you play - Every single note you play feels and sounds wonderful to you. Make this a part of your routine, and enjoy it. Life is about having fun, so if you don't strive for that in every moment, then what's the point of living?
These are just a few of many things you can do to practice loving yourself. It's a completely personal practice, and the most important thing is if you can feel love for yourself.
If you can't love yourself, how will you love your music?
Music and life are the same and your music is a reflection of who you are. If you can practice living in love and relaxation on a daily basis, your whole life will improve, ultimately making you a better player, but most importantly making you a happier, joy-filled person.