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I’ll admit that I was initially hesitant about this issue’s theme of “Bring It On.” When someone pitched the phrase at our team brainstorming meeting, all I could picture was people trying to one-up each other in attempts to prove their superiority — in strength, intellect, commitment, you name it.

Being in competition with one another is just about the last thing Experience Life encourages (at least in daily life). If we were going to stick with this theme, we decided we needed to look at it through a different lens. It had to complement — and more importantly support — our mission of empowering our readers to become their healthiest, happiest, most authentic selves.

When you consider it with a view to personal development and growth, “bring it on” takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of being about rivalries, it’s about rising up as individuals to meet new challenges. It’s about making inspired choices and being willing to step out of your comfort zone. It’s about having the courage to traverse the unknown and pursue your dreams.

It’s also about letting go of all the “shoulds” and expectations — whether self-induced or perceived based on cultural norms — so you can devote your time and energy to moving forward in ways that are inspiring to you.

Too often, too many of us are living our lives moving from one thing to the next because we think it’s what’s expected of us. We chase other people’s ideas of satisfaction and fulfillment, and we trick ourselves into thinking we’re “bringing it” because we’re keeping up with the Joneses, or we look a certain way, or other people seem pleased by the results we’re producing.

So we keep trudging along and pushing down those internal voices telling us there’s a better, healthier, more rewarding way.

For each of us to truly “bring it” in our own lives, though, we have to be honest with ourselves about where we are at and what we have to offer. We have to be willing to dig into what’s motivating our actions and behaviors, to observe how we’re spending our time, and to get real about what we want to accomplish. Then we can set goals — about our health, personal pursuits, career ambitions — with our values and deepest desires in mind.

In her 2016 book, Present Over Perfect, author Shauna Niequist writes, “We get to decide how we want to live. We get to shape our days and our weeks, and if we don’t, they’ll get shaped by the wide catch-all of ‘normal’ and ‘typical,’ and who wants that?”

I love this perspective. When we realize we can choose what’s next (in many, but not all, cases), we begin to make space for what is most meaningful. We give ourselves permission to explore what’s bubbling under the surface, waiting to rise up.

In an ideal world, we could devote all our time to these endeavors. Alas, we still have jobs and day-to-day responsibilities to take care of. So how can we bring our best gifts into these experiences? What can we let go of to make space for what’s most fulfilling and create days and weeks that are extraordinary?

We devoted this issue to inspiring you to go after what’s been calling you and to bring it on in ways only you can — and that’s a message I’m more than happy to get on board with.

Photography by Chad Holder

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