It's that time of year when everyone is tuning back in and turning back on. Gearing up to do do do and go go go. Phones are ringing, budgets are being made, and to-do lists are growing. Before your to-do list swallows you whole...
What do you want to be this year? What do you want to feel?
These are the factors that are the underpinnings of successful phone calls, budgets that make us smile, and to-do lists that nourish us instead of draining us.
Let go of what you don't want to do.
So many of our resolutions start with versions of "no" or "don't" or "less". Right from the start we're setting our compass for the year with feelings of inadequacy, reminders of what it is that we have failed at continuously, or punishments.
Example: I'm not going to eat any candy in 2013.
First of all: bummer.
Why don't you want to eat any candy in 2013? What do you want to be? Healthier? What do you want to feel? Vital? Re-set your compass to get at the heart of the matter in a way that has energy instead of punishment.
Example: I want to feel healthy and vital in 2013.
This is a resolution that will guide your actions. Emblazon it on your brain. Let it take up residence in your heart. Make it your own personal spiritual practice for 2013. Make the moves that make you feel healthy and vital. Maybe that does mean not eating candy. But maybe it also means more yoga. Maybe it means sitting outside in the sunshine staring at the trees. Maybe it means grocery shopping regularly and buying a new cookbook. Suddenly your to-do list is filled with things that get back to what you want to be and how you want to feel.
The result? Best year ever. And isn't that what we're all looking for?
I'm feeling angry.
I know. It's an odd admission to make given that my mission in life is to help people find happiness. I hesitated before I even typed those words. What will people think? Gasp! But let's face it, what truly makes me an expert on how to be happy is that I used to be angry as a mother@%!*er.
Anger used to rule my life. I believed nobody was treating me the way I deserved to be treated. So I let them know it. With anger. I believed the world around me was an inherently screwed up place full of incompetence. So I let the world know it. With anger. Everything was an argument. Everything caused a wound. And I raged against all of it.
Those days are gone. And the people that surround me are just as grateful as I am for that. Through a trifecta of Buddhist study, meditation and coaching, I gained control over the unruly, jump-up-and-down, kindergarten class on a sugar high that was my emotional landscape. And life became SO. MUCH. EASIER.
But right now I'm feeling a little bit angry. Not in the "I'm going to make your life a living hell" sort of way. And not even in the "I'm going to pout and storm around" kind of way. It's more of a "Well, hello. What's going on here?" kind of way.
So what is going on here?
Great things are just around the corner.
How many times have you heard that? And out of the times you have heard it, how many times did you believe it, and how many times did you think it was complete bullshit?
I’m at about 90% belief and 10% bullshit. That 90% keeps me moving. It keeps me creating things that I never thought I could create, and achieving beyond what I thought possible. It keeps the corner in sight, and allows me to get around it time and time again.
But that 10% is a killer. It’s like cruising down the freeway at 60 mph and hitting a pile of nails. Your map flies out the window and you have no idea where that mystical corner might be, or if it even really exists. Getting to those great things around the corner seems like a dream that will never come true.
I lead an unconventional life, and I coach those who do the same. “Unconvential” means making choices outside the norm—whatever “norm” surrounds you. What is unconventional for one person may not be for another. But both people share the common experience of going against the stream and navigating largely uncharted territory. For those who lead that type of life, whether through personal or professional endeavors, the corner can be a moving target. And much of the work that I do, either on my own or with a client, is in finding, approaching, and getting around the corner to the great things that are possible.
What the corner looks like, as well as the type of great things that are to be found once you get around it, is different for every person. But the challenges and concerns of the journey are the same. These are the top two concerns I find clients have on their journeys.
I have to admit to dragging my heels.
Every time I sat down to complete the Life Purpose Basics series with this final blog on Making It Happen, I found myself lacking direction. I was stuck. I couldn't distill the most effective way to share the best methods to bring what you have uncovered about your life purpose into your life.
So I let myself be inspired by my clients. As we worked together to guide them toward action based on what they really want in life, I discovered a magic formula.
AWARNESS + ACTION = PURPOSE.
You can't have one without the other. If you do, chances are what you have is confusion, not purpose.
When we have awareness without action, we are still not going anywhere or moving toward our purpose. We're simply stuck at a higher level. Sometimes that can be even more painful than our previous state of stuck, because now we REALLY know that we want to make a change and we still find ourselves sitting still.
When we have action without awareness, we find ourselves throwing spaghetti against the wall. Mentally, that is. And we have that all too familiar feeling of running in the hamster wheel, exhausting ourselves with action, but never truly getting anywhere that feels meaningful.
I spent the past four days with 25 people in complete silence. We meditated, we ate, we walked around and cleaned and generally kept ourselves busy all without any form of verbal or physical communication. We were on silent retreat. So in other words, we got down and dirty with what's really going on in our minds.
The primary purpose of this Buddhist retreat was to increase my ability to love others. All others. From my best friend to the guy outside my Downtown LA loft window that sings Whitney Houston songs at drunken top volume between 3am and 4am.
The concept of silent retreat terrifies people because in silence we can no longer externalize our bad feelings, our fear, and our doubt. When we see these elements in our non-silent day-to-day life we can easily escape them by assigning them to someone or something else. As in, "So-and-so or this-and-that is making me feel this way." And then we proceed to get away from so-and-so or this-and-that with the belief that we have solved our problems.
When we enter silence—a period with no external stimuli or communication with others of any kind—we are pushed to take ownership of the inner workings of our mind. All of them. The same bad feelings, fears, and doubts come up in silence as in any other time. But with no external source to which we can point the finger of blame we find that there is only one source of all this emotional and mental muck: ourselves. And that's a little bit scary because, well, you can't get away from yourself.
Before we go any further on this journey into mind, I have to confess to being a reformed self-loather.
Uncovering your life purpose begins with getting clear on the subject of meaning. The desire for a more meaningful life—a more purposeful life—will stay in the realm of fuzzy, unclear desire unless you can answer the question, "What does "meaning" mean to me?" Following the Clues
In part one of Life Purpose Basics
you learned how to start looking for the clues life is leaving you by answering the following questions:
- What are you doing when you lose all track of time?
- What is similar in all the things you love to do?
- What is the feeling you get when you engage in these activities?
From there you made a list of the top five descriptors and feelings that came up in order to get to the core of it all. Pull out the activities that make you feel positive. All of the activities in which you feel most engaged, interested, happy, and peaceful are the first clues in following the trail to your life purpose. You will use these activities to unearth your values. Unearthing Your Values
At the root of meaning are values. Here is the first thing you need to know about values: There are two types of values: fear based and conscious based.
Life purpose is not just about the meaning of life in some grand, abstract, cosmic sense. It is about the meaning of your life. And it is not about chasing a carrot through life to reach some end destination that is down the road. It is about feeling that purpose in every step of the journey.
What if you could eliminate
· the dissatisfaction that creeps into your daily life?
· the feelings that you are working a pointless and thankless job?
· the concerns that your not making a difference in the world?
· the nagging feeling that there must be more to life than what you're experiencing?
Understanding your life purpose and incorporating it in all that you do is the antidote to all of the above. It provides you with a meaningful compass with which to gain direction in your life. If you are looking to transition into a new career or find a satisfying relationship, knowing your life purpose can help you know in which direction you should head.
If you simply have a nagging feeling that there must be something more in life, but you don't feel that you need to change your job or revamp your relationships, discovering your life purpose can bring new levels of joy and passion to your life as it is now. It can help you discover why you love the things you love, and what you can do to get even more of that good stuff.
Whichever category you fall into, the first tip I want to give you about finding your life purpose is that it's not about what you do, it's about who you are while you are doing it.
Being vs Doing
Your life purpose is not about what you do for a living. Or what you do at all. Your life purpose is not tied to any one activity. It is not about the doing. It is about the being. It is about the "you" that shows up in everything that you do.
Life leaves clues. So what you do in life—whether it be your job, your hobbies, or any of your daily activities—is the starting point for finding you life purpose. Your first task in discovering your life purpose is to dive below the surface of your activities and take a look at what is happening on the inside during each activity. In particular, take a look at the ones that make you feel the most at peace, happy, content, passionate, and purposeful. You can begin by asking yourself:
· What are you doing when you lose all track of time?
· What is similar in all the things you love to do?
· What is the feeling you get when you engage in these activities?
Make a list of the top five descriptors or feelings that come up as you answer these questions. This list of words will tap into the core of who you are in all that you do. Start thinking about how you can get more of those feelings in your life. Use that list of words to help you make choices throughout your day that keep you aligned with your core. When you can match up your outside activities with who you know you are at your very core, you experience greater happiness, energy and success. You are living your life purpose.
This article is part one of a three part series on finding and following your life purpose. Life Purpose Basics will continue with part two: What Does "Meaning" Mean?
I am a junkie for the personal revolution. I crave it. I have to have it.
And I am also terrified of it.
We are all capable of radical self-creation. Within each person lie the seeds of the personal revolution. It is our job to water them. To take the steps necessary to keep moving from here to there. But inherent in this getting from here to there is change. And change can be anywhere from uncomfortable to paralyzing.
Change can be terrifying.
Running away from change puts us right back where we started. There is no way around the change process. No way over it or under it. The rewards and benefits of the personal revolution lie on the other side of change. We must walk through it.
We can think of this process as “Navigating the Discomfort Zone.” Here are the top three tips that can help you come out on the other side unscathed and transformed.
You can lead a more spiritual life.
And you can do this without making any drastic changes. Like giving away your possessions. Taking a vow of celibacy. Or moving to a cave to live out your days as a beggar. In fact, you can do this without changing any of your daily activities.
Spirituality is not a boxed and packaged concept that requires an “all in” commitment. It is not an all or nothing proposition. And it’s not about a label. Living a more spiritual life can mean finding the meaning beyond the ordinary in everything we do. It can mean aligning with our true purpose so that we find joy in every step. It can mean letting go of the negative minds that hold us back.
It’s not complicated. But it is revolutionary. It is a powerful way to transform your everyday life as you continue to go to work, care for your family, and hang out with your friends. Here are five ways you can lead a more spiritual life every day.
Easy, right? We’re doing it anyway. All the time. So we’re half way there. Now what happens if you turn your attention to that breath? When we turn our attention to our breath and focus it as single-pointedly as possible, the benefits that come from that simple action are huge. We can use this practice to:
· let go of anger, stress and frustration: a few moments of breath can prevent us from snapping at our partner or getting ourselves into hot water at work
· access the calm inside the storm: as the world spins out of control around us, we can prevent ourselves from getting swept up in its currents by simply breathing and focusing on the rock solid strength that can be found within
· find our inner wisdom: instead of making (often disastrous) decisions from a place of fear or frustration, we can take a few minutes to breathe and find a more reliable place from which to make decisions that move us forward instead of keeping us stuck
I am incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to write a guest blog for Tambre Leighn, who coaches cancer survivors, caregivers, and those recovering from loss. Tambre has been a true inspiration to me on my journey to becoming a coach.