What 3 Months on an Italian Beach Can Teach Anyone About Love, Life, Business and Success

As we learn to listen, we hear life speaking more relevantly and lovingly.


In the cold, hard light of day, we can suddenly see how frozen we've been. In warm light, a lighter self comes into sight. We see how richer choices can brighten up life.

My dream du jour last year was to celebrate the aliveness of life in 90 sunny, sweet summer days somewhere in southern Europe.

The destination turned out to be in the marvelously majestic medieval, coastal city of Gaeta. It is located in the Italian region of Lazio, province of Latina. It's just south of Rome, just north of Naples. Medieval stone walls, ancient Roman ruins. Spectacular beaches. Glistening sea. A secret destination, largely unrecognized outside of Italy.

Gaeta was the ideal location to fulfill my dream to experience the aliveness of life beyond the self-made, protective medieval-like stone walls that I had constructed over the years to keep me safe.

As we learn to listen, we hear life speaking more relevantly and lovingly. The common-sense life wisdom Gaeta showed me falls nicely into four transformational topic areas: Loving life. Loving self. Loving others. Loving with. "Loving with" represents the capacity to be present with who and what we're with.

What follows are lessons learned on a three-month journey to live with aliveness. If aliveness is calling you to live more with it, choose any actions below that speak to you. Apply what you will to areas that you sense are important for you. As your practice and application grow, notice how aliveness comes alive in you, for you and with you.

Loving Life

• Walking is underrated. Underrate it at your own risk. Go take a hike.

• Walking airs out, stretches out and brings out quality thinking. Air out your mind.

• Be in the sun. In moderation, sunshine is healthy. Let your sunny side shine.

• You don't need to walk barefoot in the sand. Walk anywhere, whenever you can.

• Listen more to nature's rhythms and less to your own jukebox of karaoke hit songs.

• Sing away like no one's listening. Express your inner music, not your inner critic.

• Breathe naturally while moving. Feel with what's moving in and around you.

• Watch the sky. See how clouds drift. Adjust your own pace and time accordingly.

• Imagine the ocean and its thrilling roar of aliveness. Express your thunder.

• Be beach-like. Sand doesn't judge what's being said by those walking on it.

Loving Self

• Nature allows space for different proportions and perspectives. You can, too. Do so.

• Freeing ourselves from our agendas encourages others to be free from theirs.

• The more we allow others to be, the more we allow ourselves to be.

• Life is big enough for everyone, whoever they are and however they show up.

• We don't need to control nearly as much as we think. Think less. Live more.

• Allowing others to be without judging frees us from self-judgment.

• Our peace starts with us on the beach, not with others on the beach.

• Practice the Italian fine art of doing nothing. See what matters most in your doing.

• Being bounced around by sea waves can be fun; don't take yourself so seriously.

Loving Others

• Curiosity invites differences rather than resists them. Examine what you're resisting.

• Through curiosity, we uncover what's possible. Look beyond your assumptions.

• Curiosity leads to discovery. Lead through inquiry.

• Curiosity laughs at assumptions. Laugh at yours. Don't be led by them.

• Assumptions reveal biases. Love others rather than your biases about them.

• Discovery shifts us from self-serving interests to serving others. Serve others.

• Self-interests create transactional relationships. How transactional are you?

• Understand who and what you're with. Understand what pleases others—not just you.

• Fill in the blank: "If I had to say why I love, it would be ____."

Loving With

• Practice loving as a way of being with. Practice being without imposing conditions.

• Giving "with" is different than giving "for." Ask what your giving is really for.

• Love with, not for. Both have purpose. Assess the outcome purpose in your loving.

• Love what's in front of you more than what you'd love to be in front of you.

• Love with acceptance, not for it. Accept what comes of itself even if unacceptable.

• How you show up contributes to how others show up. Examine how you show up.

• Appreciate that being with is being full.

• Asking others how you show up allows richer openness and honesty to show up.

• Allow what you're with to fully be itself. Live lovingly with possibility.

Gaeta's loving message to me, beach or no beach, is valid for all. Love life. Love self. Love others. Love with.

I chose a medieval, coastal beach town in southern Italy to wake me up into living with more aliveness.

Do we believe that the world around us can inform us about ourselves? I do. Some do. Do you?

Beach or no beach, sea or no sea, summer or winter, whether you're leading others or yourself, if your interest is personal, professional or both, this same question applies: What do you need to do to wake yourself up and lift yourself into living with richer aliveness?

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