This past Sunday, I watched Viola Davis approach the mic on the Oscars stage in her bright red evening gown that complimented her skins so well and a hairstyle that framed her face so well. She delivered an awe-inspiring acceptance speech for winning best supporting actress for her role in the movie Fences. (let's chat about Fences later, k?) I was so deeply moved by her speech because she exemplified eloquence, grace, elegance, courtesy, professionalism, humility, gratefulness and what it means to be a class act in less than five minutes. Every 20 seconds or so I kept finding myself saying the word 'yes', as in 'yes God'. It was a powerhouse of lessons in self-care. In The five minutes of her time, she laid out a roadmap to happiness (I have been enjoying my happiness planner way too much these days). Viola Davis engineers a roadmap to Joy. Here are some key self-care takeaways from the Viola Davis' excellent speech on Sunday.
1. Don't Start Dying Before You Live
This one is very vague and cliché, this I know. But it is one that goes over our heads and gets lost in translation many times. I thought I'd be a darling and help translate for those who may not understand. So let's get into it. Davis opens her speech by saying that the only place where people with the greatest potential in the world meet is the graveyard. And this is true. Let me give you some proof. Have you ever had a dream so big that you could visualize it? You can taste it, you can feel it, you can breathe it. But you give up that dream somewhere along the way because it is too hard or you think you overreached? That is because you are not in concurrence with the existing agreements/beliefs you have made with yourself. You say, for example, "I'm going to be the best fashion stylist the world has ever seen!" but you've made the agreement with yourself that you can't handle rejection. Well, the first time you don't get a gig or that celebrity stylist doesn't hire you as her assistant you are going to give up, because you have more faith in the fact that you cannot handle rejection than you do in your dream of becoming the most famous stylist you could have ever imagined. That dream dies and so does a little part of your spirit because you did not explore a part of your destiny that would have taught you many valuable lessons. You neglect and kill the person you could have become because your doubt stood in between you and your dreams. Don't let this happen. At the end of this thing called life you will end up with stories of your 'dreams that never came to fruition'. You might feel a little guilt and together, that concoction creates this thing called regret. So, in order to avoid that, what you have to do for yourself now, is audit the agreements that you have made with yourself and get rid of the ones that are harming you and replace them with ones that will help you reach heights that have never imagined. Break free of all those agreements that are holding you back from your true self!
2. Express Gratitude For The Things That Give Your Life Meaning
... And I don't mean your new car or your closet. Viola Davis was moved to tears as she began to extend praise and for love into all of the elements of her life that validate her existence and give her life meaning. She thanked her parents or bringing her into this world and her sister for fueling her imagination. She also thanked her nuclear family, her husband and her daughter for being the foundation of her life. IT was absolutely beautiful. But the awards stage and an acceptance speech should not be the only time that we praise our loved ones, alive or dead, for bring such irreplaceable value in our lives. We should do this everyday. So I encourage you, dear reader, to make a daily list of all of the people and things that you are grateful for in your life. Do not feel guilty if your list is short when you begin. When you begin to extract joy from the little things, you will observe the growth of your list over time. And you will be grateful just for that! As you find more things to be grateful of and you see this gratefulness will multiply and magnify your joy. Furthermore, this will help you implement number lesson #1 more efficiently in your life.
3. Enjoy Every Step of Your Journey
Art is supposed to make artists happy. When you create art, you should feel relieved and pleased that you have created something with intention and love. You have to love the painting even while you are just filling in the background. You have to love the dance even when you just choreographed the first two 8-counts. August Wilson, the playwright of Fences, enjoyed the process of celebrating people as they were, enjoying the journey to find meaning and purpose in their lives. How do we know? Because he kept doing it, play after play, series after series. Davis praises August Wilson and his particular selection of his muse, the ordinary people whose lives were the subject of most, if not all, of his plays. His muse works like this: by bearing witness to his plays, he instructs his audience to examine the life of these ordinary people and correct the mistakes they made. If you have never read the play, the opening quote of fences reads,
When the sins of our fathers visit us, We do not have to play host. We can banish the with forgiveness as God, in His Largeness and Laws.
His plays were lessons about life for the ordinary person. He made the lessons relatable. We have all had to make sacrifices, we have all had that coming-of-age phase in our lives and we have all had to stare forgiveness in the face and embrace it. These are all themes in the movie that Viola Davis won her Oscar for on Sunday that August Wilson wrote. How can you learn a lesson if you don't know what mistakes were made in order to correct them? That's where the self-reflection comes in. If you have made a mistake somewhere along your journey, keep going! Keep going until you have reached failure. Not only will you have added texture to your character, but like a math problem, you will be able to go back right to the points where you felt like you went wrong and examine them, like Wilson instructs his audience to, so that you can learn the lesson and avoid the mistake in the future. Remember success is because of failure, not in spite of it!
I say all of this to say, Viola Davis' speech was the GPS that we all needed in our journey's to finding our purposes. If you are lost or just nee help getting back on your path, begin with these three simple steps and watch your joy grow, your skin glo and your character soar!