Interview By Kristen Noel
Vancouver, B.C. February 23, 2015
Photographs by Bill Miles
We have the procedures of achievement upside down. We go after the stuff we want to have and accomplish outside of ourselves, and we hope and pray that we’ll feel great when we get there. It’s backwards. And it’s burning us out. ~ Danielle LaPorte
From the moment you hold a Danielle LaPorte creation in your hands, be it a book, or a product, you understand full well that there is a divine aesthetic and a creative force at play. Interestingly, in prepping for this interview I was met with a curious inner resistance. I didn’t know where to start. My usual approach didn’t quite feel right. It dawned on me that I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and Danielle LaPorte doesn’t exactly fit a mold. When mentioning this to a friend, she simply advised me to sit down and have a ‘Soul Chat’ with her. And that is exactly what I did – I let it roll.
I should probably disclose that Danielle LaPorte had me at the back cover of her book, The Desire Map, that reads, “How do you want to feel?” Her latest book has been transformed into a licensing program, and dare I say movement – because as she says, “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life.”
She is a unique voice in the space of empowerment, one that is wrapped in a creative, whimsical, unapologetic bow. And it threads throughout her work. Hers is a voice of the divine feminine activated; it walks within its power and its presence is palpable.
Kristen: If I were to write your bio this is how it would read: Writer, priestess, rapper, poet, motivator, bad-ass, sexy mama goddess.
Danielle: [smiling] I’ll take all of those things!
Kristen: Your approach in The Desire Map flips our traditional thinking on its side. It’s almost so obvious, you ask yourself, why haven’t I been approaching life like this all along? Of course – chase the feeling, not the outcome. Where did this all come together for you – was there an event that sparked this?
Danielle: New Year’s Eve, a long time ago now – doing goals. I had them all drawn out. I looked at them and I was so uninspired…this is not aspirational. I grabbed a different color pen and started writing words (and they were all feeling words). I wasn’t even conscious of it at the time: EARTHY – CONSCIOUS – SEXY – CREATIVE. And then I put them away and didn’t think much about it – it was like a 7-year process – and I started to think, Oh those words – what if those feelings are my goals? That turned into a Post-It note that I kept in my day planner for 5 years, with those same 4 words. That Post It changed everything. I’ve come to the conclusion that you must be fierce in pursuit of what you want and you must be flexible – it’s both. That was a multi-million dollar Post-It note – who knew?
Kristen: Many of us were raised with a sensibility of – nose to the grindstone, you have work hard, save for a rainy day…outcome first, feeling later.
Danielle: What you are describing is all about earning – you have to earn your freedom, you have to earn feeling good, you have to earn the rewards. The phenomenon around The Desire Map is that people are giving themselves permission to feel. It is uncorking people. Everybody knows that on some level – life is short. So really – are you going to spend your whole life earning? Instant gratification is totally underrated [big laugh]. I want to feel good NOW – this hour, this experience, today – because feeling good today really increases my chances of feeling good tomorrow.
You have to feel today – how you want the destination to feel.
You think you can strive your way to arriving or fight your way to inner peace. I am steeped in a lot of practices and methodologies – my favorite downfall of Buddhism (and I consider myself to be an armchair Buddhist) is that I am going to suffer my way – I’m going to endure my way – to peace. And it can be so punishing. It’s burning us out – it’s really hard on the adrenals, hard on the sex life, hard on the parenting, makes you fat.
Kristen: We’re not good when we are chasing the stuff outside of us, rather than the feeling. [Noting the sirens ringing in the background] It must be true.
Danielle: Those are the angels saying you got it.
Kristen: You point out the importance of pen to paper, the ceremony of it – writing your goals out as opposed to typing them.
Danielle: I sometimes forget to take my own medicine. I have caught myself writing and suddenly realize everything I’m writing about is “out there.” I feel a crease in my forehead, my breathing changes – those are the signs of stress. Oh, core desired feelings – how do I want to feel? Let’s get back to those. What am I going to do this year that is going to make me feel that way? Reframing my goals – creating beauty instead of making a million dollars. Set up pure intentions and prosperity comes, and if it doesn’t that’s ok too, because I did something today to feel the way I wanted to feel.
Kristen: I would describe The Desire Map as part workbook, raw, poetic, laugh out loud sharing in all of your messiness. Let’s circle back around to core desired feelings.
Danielle: It’s really simple and really profound. The essence of the DM process is that you are going to go through every area of your life. I make it simple – here are five areas, you can call them what you like. Ask yourself, how do you want to feel in each. Then go through the process of discernment – pattern recognition. I guarantee you – how you want to feel in livelihood is the same way you want to feel in your body, in your relationships. The same way you feel when you get dressed is the same way you want to feel when you look at your bank account. In a stream of consciousness you can get it down to 4 or 5 feelings. I want to feel…
Kristen: What are yours?
Danielle: BELOVED – GOLDEN – JOY – TRUTH, sometimes with a side of MAGIC or SPACE. We have 900 emotions a day [laughing] – not a scientific number, I’m making it up – but they are driving everything you do positively or negatively…what you eat, who you hang out with, where you work etc.
So why don’t you get clear on how you want to feel? I write my core desired feelings down every day.
Kristen: I was channeling you, as I recently told a group of young women I was speaking to: Passion + Action, sprinkled with a little faith = an unstoppable equation of limitless possibility. I love that we are talking to our children like this – that we are asking them, how do you want to feel? In many ways we have been asleep at the wheel with our feelings.
Society has a lot of hang-ups about desire and feelings – how do you talk back to that mind chatter, those mental obstacles?
Danielle: I don’t have a lot of patience for that. I understand it, but I’m taking it as my job to say, get over it really quickly. You are still caught in that trap of external validation. You are allowed to feel the way you want to feel. You are allowed to want to feel the way you want to feel. For years I listened to hundreds of entrepreneurs talk about dreams. They would ask me, I want to feel this way – is it ok? [mounting enthusiasm] This is an epidemic. Can I even want to feel the way I want to feel??? FUCK YES – be alive, claim it, you are here. Who else are you going to live for – them or you? Live for YOU!
Feelings are power – take your power back.
Kristen: We are all seekers – seeking therapy, guidance from life coaches, spiritual teachers, but there comes a point where we have to get up and stop talking about it all and actualize it.
Danielle: Firstly, I would say we are not all seekers, which is problematic – some of us aren’t looking at all. We are just really comfortable.
Kristen: I’m just optimistic [laugh]
Danielle: I do not judge or draw any conclusions. Some people are just asleep and they want to be that way. I don’t know the make-up of someone’s soul. However, the tools of the search can become another addiction, another way of validating that you are not enough now, you are broken, you need to earn more.
I had a Buddhist teacher who gave me an assignment that was to recite a particular mantra 100,000 times. I bucked against it a bit, asking WHY? It was one more thing to measure. I get that repetition carves, cleanses and burns things out of the psyche. We train the mind like we workout a muscle at the gym. But what’s the intention behind it? Am I doing this to prove to my Lama, my God, my ancestors, or am I doing this for the approach? Let’s see what happens – does my heart explode? Do I become more psychic? It’s about reframing punishment and proving into joyful aspiration. And now sometimes I want to do other things [BIG laugh], like go shopping.
Kristen: You mentioned in the book that you just stopped doing everything at a point.
Danielle: I was tired of proving. I’m a seeker. I’m here for the light. But it doesn’t matter if you are a Baptist or training for the Olympics, if you are all holistic and kale – it’s the WHY – what is the why behind it? It can be very subtle and insidious – hard to find within yourself. The addictive nature to the search is exactly what is keeping you from the joy you want. In my own experiment, realizing how NOT joyful I was in some pursuits, I said, Bag this! Let’s see what happens if I don’t meditate every day and let’s see what happens if I start eating meat again. I want to live. I want to smoke. I like my red wine and my cleanses. I meditate every day and if I don’t I can still rock my day.
Kristen: If you were speaking to someone starting today, someone who is stuck, someone who doesn’t know which way to turn…what would you say?
Danielle: First question: How do you want to feel? What I know to be true is that in a moment of feeling stuck – if I feel like I am missing the mark or I’m angry – those feelings are the polar opposite of my core desired feelings. Ask yourself, what’s the opposite of that feeling.
Kristen: I love that – flip it.
Danielle: Declaring, I don’t want to feel this way, just interrupted that monkey thinking and prevented you from going further south. I want to feel different, lighter, hopeful. I want to feel better – [animated] MO BETTER works!
Kristen: [laughing in acknowledgement] MO BETTER works!
Danielle: And then dare yourself to stretch a little out of your reach, something exciting. Your core desired feelings have to feel exciting. You can do better than “HAPPY” – go for JOYFUL, ELECTRICITY, BADASS, RED, VITALITY. That’s going to pull you forward. Go up [snap]!
Kristen: While we are on the subject, let’s talk about your Desire Statement. It made me desire a desire statement.
Danielle: It lubes you up – makes you think, maybe I should want that too.
Kristen: I had so much fun reading yours, it made me want to write my own. I’m going to read my favorites from your list: I desire to support my son to be how he is, drive alone in the wide open spaces of New Mexico, keep a temple-tidy house, make millions of dollars and give lots away, meditate, wear cashmere, make things that make people want to make things of their own, get just the right font spacing, listen to Tibetan singing bowls on repeat for hours, wear perfume every day, give money and touch the face of God.
It made me want to cry.
Danielle: [lost in momentary Desire Statement revelry] I’ve got to go back and read that again.
Kristen: Yin Yang – I want it all.
Danielle: Yeah, green smoothies and steak, meditation and dancing – write your desire statement.
Kristen: This is a damn good desire statement and I want mine to be as sexy as yours.
Danielle: …to DREAM. If you are slogging along enough, you forget to dream. You’re so in that mode of endurance, achievement and metrics – the dream muscle atrophies.
Kristen: We have to bring our desire statements into every day life, to become our desire statements.
Danielle: When I find myself on autopilot – rocking something for a couple of weeks when I suddenly realize, this isn’t how I want to feel, I re-route – red alert, initiate a team call. Team call = I’ve changed my mind.
Kristen: You share some stories about leaving so called “fabulous” opportunities because suddenly they didn’t feel good.
Danielle: What are my options – go through with something I am already feeling miserable about before I even start? It’s not going to get better if you are miserable before you start. I’ve gotten more and more discerning and really clear. The bottom line – is this going to make me feel the way I want to feel? I want to work with people who are open-hearted and who think trust is a form of strength, not naiveté, people who think everything happens for a reason.
Kristen: We still have our work cut out for us with society’s conditioning, regarding feelings as a sign of weakness – keeping our feelings in check: Man up, suck it up, don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, don’t take it personally, don’t be too sensitive etc.
Danielle: This is especially detrimental for women. This is the patriarchy speaking, repressing and depressing the divine feminine to label emotions as weakness. There’s this character, Troi, in Star Trek; she was the Intuitive and her opinion trumped the facts. They called her in for every major decision. Intuition is a superpower, primal intuition [pointing upward].
I’d like to hear more board meetings and shareholder meetings where people are asked – how does everyone feel about this? Someone is going to say, I don’t feel right about this.
Kristen: We’ve got to keep this conversation going, evolving – talk to our kids like this, point out the emotion, pay attention to the synchronicities.
Danielle: Yeah, the winks from the Universe. Did we all get a little wink from the Universe that this is the right decision? Those winks often look really silly, but thank you Universe for letting me know I’m on track.
Kristen: You quote a lot of Abraham-Hicks within the book, one of my favorites:
Whenever you start guiding yourself by caring about how you feel, you start guiding yourself back into your stream of source energy, and that’s where your balance is; that’s where your joy is, that’s where your good ideas come from. That’s where all the good stuff is accessed from.
Danielle: One of the core tenets of Abraham-Hicks is to think thoughts that feel good. You can also be completely real about what is going on – this sucks, this is hard, I’m having to endure, and still think thoughts that feel good. How about reframing that to – I can do this!
Kristen: Thank you for bringing that up. Sometimes our mantras and affirmations can sound like a lot of blah, blah, blah. When you are really knee deep in the shit, all is not well and reciting inauthentic mantras that don’t resonate can leave you nowhere – all is not well, this feels fake.
Danielle: Affirmations can be a big pack of lies. I use this metaphor – you can be standing looking in the mirror thinking you are overweight and you say, I love my thin body. And you know what your mind is saying – you are full of shit! You are lying to me and that is creating dissonance and isn’t going to allow anything to flow. Yes there is a lot of power to living as it already IS, but you’ve got to work backwards and declare your feelings:
I’m ready to feel better. I want to be in my body. I’m so devoted to losing what no longer belongs, etc. That’s truth! The truth is better. Declarations of desires are prayers [pointing upward] that somebody hears. So when you declare things publicly your guides and even your friends are going to swoop in and say – let’s go for a healthy meal, let’s go for a walk.
Kristen: You said, “It became just me, and my desire, and the Universe – on common ground. Not a hierarchy, not a waiting game, not a matter of good behavior, or karma or law of attraction. My desire is my prayer.”
Danielle: [laughing] Damn, I’ve got to read that book again!
Kristen: But like you said, you’ve got to do your work – merge the desire with action.
Danielle: The Universe loves reciprocity – you need to show up.
Kristen: Thank you for writing this book – for putting your sassy voice out into the world. I’m going to leave off with one more juicy quote from the book and a blessing that each and every reader that arrives here, finds their way back to discovering their own core desired feelings.
Please ask yourself, HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL? And then listen for the authentic answer. Welcome home.
When we are able to recognize our core desired feelings as sparks of divinity that can begin the illumination of our life, there is a feeling of AHHH…We are unveiling what is already there – not adding yet another layer to our already cloaked hearts. There is a sense of having arrived home. ~ Danielle LaPorte