The following is adapted from Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within.
I’ve made a discovery. The very same advice I’ve given actors for years works well for anyone looking to create a fulfilling life—a life guided by their own unique perspective.
For an actor the goal is always the same: “I want to get the job.” It keeps them from doing their best work because their every thought is about impressing the people in charge of hiring them. My advice is simple: “Shift your intention.” The goal is not to get the job. The goal is to do your best work. Whether you get the job or not, the goal is always to give 100 percent of you. Then, if you get the job, great. If not, you’ll be remembered as a first-rate actor, and they’ll call you in again.
Ask the right questions. Make choices that move you. Give 100 percent of your best self. Be an authentic person. This is pretty good advice for anyone, I believe.
Stop Delivering What You Think They Want
When an actor is fixated on getting the job, they deliver what they think is wanted. Most actors who audition for a part end up playing the same thing. They take their cues from the words on the page and say them with as much emotion as they can muster. There’s no dimension to the acting because the actors haven’t given themselves to the part.
That’s the job. Give yourself to your work. I encourage actors to trust themselves rather than obsess about being admired.
“The people in charge of hiring you don’t know what they want,” I tell them. “They are waiting for you to bring them something special, something personal, something not already on the page. They are thinking, I’ll know what I want when I see it.”
What they want is simple:
They want to be inspired by something bigger than themselves.
They want the artist to contribute to the project and make it better in some way.
They want to be transported out of their humdrum reality.
They want the artist to do what they don’t have the courage to do themselves: be unapologetically authentic.
You can’t be an artist and worry about what others think! You can’t be your own person and worry about what others think either. I teach actors how to discover their own point of view. Discovering your own point of view is how you become your own person! Finding that autonomy is liberating— you stop caring about what others think.
I encourage actors to embrace the freedom that comes with trusting themselves. Trust and follow your own good intentions. Become the best human being you can be. This is the most valuable attribute in both art and life.
I believe this applies to everyone. How much of yourself do you give? Are you seeking to discover your own point of view? Honestly, what are your intentions? Are you striving to be admired, superior, safe, feared, or adored? Or is your intention to give the best of what you, uniquely, have to contribute?
Are you giving in life or looking to receive?
Connecting to Your Essential Self
How do we give 100 percent of ourselves when we’re not even in touch with who we really are?
The answer is so simple it’s difficult to believe: turn off all the noise. Even for ten minutes. Ignore all the influences. Quiet yourself. Breathe into your heart—and listen. When we seek guidance from what we know in our heart to be true and we act on that truth, we not only discover what we really want in life—we move toward a higher state of being.
I came to meditation reluctantly. My blood pressure was high, and I’d read stories about people who lowered their numbers with meditation. I didn’t want to meditate. I thought I’d be terrible at it. I had a very fast and active mind, and I couldn’t imagine gaining control over it.
But I did it anyway. I took a mindfulness meditation class and practiced twenty minutes every day. Within four months, between diet, walking, and meditation, my blood pressure dropped to normal.
Meditation brought me to the present moment, quieted my obsessive thinking, and led me to a more authentic life. Truth became something I could weigh against my own inner barometer. Most importantly, the breath of my higher consciousness found a channel into my life.
Most of us don’t know how to simply be. I didn’t. I had to be taught. We are beings who are learning how to be. Think of meditation as mental hygiene, a time to relax into being.
Stilling yourself by observing your breath is a technique for discovering the presence that is you. Since you, as a presence, have no physical form, many people call this awareness spirit. Spirit, God, angels, guides, higher self—these words and concepts have been abused along the way and can turn people off.
Awakening and connecting to the spirit within is different. It is a deeply personal, one-on-one matter. This vital lifeline between you and you is private and should be protected from other people’s opinion, interpretation, invalidation or alteration.
To locate this essential self, you need only still yourself and connect to your breath. When you breathe into your heart, you activate the innate intelligence that is you. Learning to observe and listen from your heart is the basis of living an authentic life.
Meditation, journaling, objective observation, communing with nature, doing things that bring you joy, falling in love with the tiny miracles in life, and practicing gratitude are all techniques that will help you live in the moment and discover how to contribute your best self to the world.
You Are Enough
Actors strive to be interesting. They feel it’s their job to be as marvelous as the celebrities they admire. “The most interesting people in the world are the folks interested in things outside themselves,” I tell them.
“Become interested in everything. Practice observing the world without judgment. Discover your own point of view. This is how to become your own person.”
I love actors. I find them brave, soulful, and spirited. They are stunningly beautiful beings, even when they try too hard at times.
“Here’s the thing: I say you are enough. Don’t add. Don’t subtract. Just be.”
That goes for all of us. You are unique. There is no one like you. We need your very distinct contribution in order to fulfill harmony.
Only when you settle into a relationship with yourself—heart over head—will you come into your own.
Only then will you achieve self-reliance.
For more advice on finding your own point of view, you can find Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within on Amazon.
Jocelyn Jones has been an acting teacher for over thirty years. From A-list movie stars to hand-picked beginners, Ms. Jones is known for offering insights and techniques that enhance her clients’ confidence; provide consistent, inspirational results; and guide them to their own unique perspectives. Her memoir is a blueprint for awakening and connecting to the spirit within—the Artist, capable of manifesting anything. Ms. Jones is also known for the critically acclaimed documentary series In Class with Jocelyn Jones: A Celebration of Actors & Acting, featuring sixteen studio members as they demonstrate the range of work taught in her master class. Learn more at JocelynJonesStudio.com.