“How do we nurture the soul? By revering our own life. By learning to love it all, not only the joys and the victories, but also the pain and the struggles.” —Nathaniel Branden
In order for us to fully enjoy life, all aspects of life must be in balance. Mind, body and spirit have to be in harmony with each other. Focusing on only the material and neglecting the spiritual leaves people feeling empty and dissatisfied. People are trying to “find themselves”, because they sense that something important is missing. That something is, more often than not, spirituality.
What is spirituality? How do you know if you’re a spiritual person? The quest for spirituality is intrinsic to the human experience. We all have a need for it, although some are more aware about it than others, and we choose to fill that need in different ways. Some people define spirituality as attending religious services, enjoying time in nature, praying, or meditating to mention only a few. And the interesting thing is that your definition may drastically change over time.
Something that all spiritual experiences have in common is that it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than self. Being connected to it creates a deep feeling of being more alive and more purposeful.
Many of the practices that help you cultivate spirituality are the same ones that help you improve emotional well-being. While emotions and spirituality are distinct, they form a self-perpetuating circle. Spirituality leads to emotions such as peace of mind, awe, gratitude, and acceptance, which broaden your ability to recognize and connect with that which is larger than yourself.
How to integrate the material with the spiritual
It’s essential that you don’t entrust your spiritual journey to anyone else. They simply can’t do it for you. Here are some ways to greater spirituality…
Find your purpose. When you discover meaning in life, you find a path that’s aligned with something bigger than your health, possessions or beliefs.
Create connection. To feel complete, we crave to receive and give unconditional love and acceptance from family, friends, and the Universe. I love how Guy Finley explains it, “Nothing glows brighter than the heart awakened to the light of love that lives within it.”
Continue growing as a person. When we stop growing, we die inside and give up. You feel more alive when you work to improve, push boundaries and reach your full potential.
Answer the big questions in life. It’s normal to want to understand how life works and how you fit in, so you probably have asked, “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”
Seek inner peace. Spirituality helps you gain balance independent of external experiences in a way that creates greater appreciation for life.
Transcend above the every day. You’re feeding your spirit when you want something better than the present human condition; you seek meaning in suffering and an enlightened way of life that rises above the pettiness around you.
Explore life’s mysteries. These moments of discovery fill you with awe, a sense of wonder and feel sacred. You clearly see your small place in the Universe.
Be of service. Your spirit is revived when you make a difference in the lives of others.
Which one of these quests drives your search for spirituality? Not all of them will resonate with you, so this will dictate the path and practices you choose to follow.
I’ve been reading a lot of Brene’ Brown’s books lately. She defines spirituality as:
“Recognizing and celebrating that we are inextricably connected with one another by a power greater than all of us and that that connection to that power and one another is grounded in love and belonging.”
When I heard this definition I thought, “This is the first definition of spirituality that sincerely makes sense!” I think of being spiritual as being connected to our true SPIRIT, which includes the reasons why we’re here; why we do what we do; and why we have the experiences we have. It all becomes part of a human perfection. When we embark on our journey of discovery, the process itself becomes a spiritual journey. We have the opportunity to rise above pain, hurts and our own fallacies as humans and connect on a level beyond what our brains can understand, where our own stories finally make more sense.
If you’d like to take your spiritual journey to greater depths, I’d love to invite you to our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend this life-changing, 3-day event. Nando and I will help you explore YOUR spiritual path in a safe and supportive environment.
As a preteen, did you ever use a daisy to predict if a boy liked you? As you plucked a petal you said, “He loves me.” Then, for the next petal, “He loves me not.”
Kind of sweet but silly, wasn’t it?
Looking back, I think it would have served us better to focus on whether, “I love me or I love me not.” That’s the real foundation for how we live our lives. And it’s often something we don’t get entirely right because of what life throws at us.
Self-love is knowing and accepting that you deserve as much love and affection as anyone else on earth. It means taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs with kindness. Sad to say, many people don’t treat themselves very well.
However, it’s vital that you love yourself enough. No it’s not selfish or narcissistic or egotistical! If you don’t love yourself, you won’t respect, value or honor yourself. You won’t be happy. Why? Because if you don’t love yourself, what’s the alternative? Indifference. Self-hate. Self-loathing.
If you don’t love yourself, you won’t take proper care of yourself or be happy. This may manifest itself in the following ways:
- You feel bad about taking time for yourself.
- You tell yourself you’re not good, pretty or smart enough.
- You apologize continually for things that don’t need an apology.
- You put everyone else first at the expense of your own needs and wants.
- You compare yourself unfavorably to others.
- You need permission to make self-care a priority.
- You feel guilty about spending money on fun things.
- You pack your schedule so full because you can’t stand quiet.
- You have no idea what your purpose is or what sets your soul on fire.
- You need to know what others decide before you make a decision.
- You beat yourself up for past failings.
- You think you have no gifts or talents or you play them down.
- You’re self-critical, only seeing your flaws and feeling unworthy.
- You lack self-confidence, so you never try anything that feels risky.
- You find it very difficult to stand up for yourself.
- You avoid introspection and soul searching.
- You blame circumstances or someone else, never seeing your contribution to a problem.
- You often say, “I can’t”.
- You need others to validate you – “I’m nothing if he doesn’t approve of me”.
- You hide your feelings and thoughts so people don’t know the “real” you.
- You feel like you’re just existing and getting by.
- You keep punishing yourself over the past.
- You neglect your health and appearance.
- You quit learning and improving because you think, “What’s the use?”
- You can’t trust your gut or intuition as you second-guess yourself.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but you may see the tendency toward viewing yourself negatively. Even well-adjusted persons may experience a twinge or two as they read it. We all have a past that follows us in adulthood. We’re all a work in process.
If you’re not treating yourself with the love you deserve, I’d love to help you discover practical ways for achieving greater self-awareness and self-love. I know how scary this can be, but we can do this together. I’ll be sharing some ways to get started in my next blog post.
Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’m looking forward to speaking with you soon.
“Get more done.” That seems to be the mantra of many productivity gurus. They advise, “Schedule your day, your week, the next six months, the next five years, and you’ll get more done.” The problem with this approach is that it leaves little time for tapping into the transformative power of continuous learning.
While there are many benefits to schedules and to-do lists, if you’re not careful you can get stuck in just getting through the day, getting stuff done. And when “life” happens it blows your well-ordered life to pieces.
On the other hand, if you focus on living mindfully, and you adopt a continuous learning mindset, you’ll be able to savor each moment, squeezing the very essence out of every day. When you practice embodied learning in a way that extracts the things, emotions, nuggets of wisdom that really matter, that’s when you gain richness and meaning in your life.
Here’s the key to successfully embracing a lifelong, continuous learning lifestyle…
Instead of striving for the maximum productivity, purposely create slack in your day so you have room for curiosity, creativity, doing quality work and really mastering a skill. It might seem counter intuitive to take slack time out of your busy schedule. And you might feel resistance against the idea. Yet I assure you, it works!
Adding slack to your day supports continuous learning because…
1. You get to focus on what you really want to learn. You stop thinking only about accomplishments (which leads to perfectionism). Instead, you start enjoying the process of trial and error, with the goal of becoming competent. This approach builds in the acceptance that you don’t have to, nor want to, do things perfectly, because what you want is to learn.
2. You get to switch from doing things automatically to doing things deliberately. You reclaim your power by accepting responsibility. You make the choices. You don’t blame yourself or others if something doesn’t work as you expected. You look for opportunities to make improvements.
3. You get to accept honest feedback. It’s one thing to ask for feedback and another to accept it graciously. Being a lifelong learner gives you the strength of character to embrace it, not viewing it as criticism but as a learning experience that makes you better.
4.You get to develop insight. You’ll understand “why” something is as it is. You’ll have a better perspective on the lessons involved, seeing the reasons why you or someone else feels, thinks and acts as they do. This takes your understanding to a much deeper level and helps you create stronger connections with yourself and others.
5. You get to create solutions as problems arise. When you’re on a tight schedule, it’s tempting to put problems on the back burner, but that makes them simmer and grow into crises. Having slack gives you the space to address problems while they’re small.
Become a lifelong learner by making time for continuous learning. Please set aside time for learning activities and experiences. Read a book each week, engage in deep conversations, take classes, and cultivate your power of observation.
Learn something new every day. For example, the next time an “automatic” activity and response arises, stop yourself and think about which skill you can practice. Do you want to communicate more effectively? Practice that. Do you want to influence others for the good? Then practice that. Do you want to find joy and happiness? Practice that.
In this way, you retrain yourself to view every event as an opportunity to learn and improve. By focusing on continuous learning, you’ll feel more satisfied because what you do brings you pleasure, a sense of accomplishment and knowledge that you’re living up to your full potential.
If you’d like specific pointers on how you can implement these suggestions as you live a more intentional life, please feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
If you’re like me, you want lasting results from your efforts. But often our efforts at self-improvement are more like a yo-yo – we go up and then we come back down. Are you frustrated by the time and money you’ve invested just to end up back where you started? If so, you’re ready to master the art of continuous self-improvement.
We all have something we don’t like about ourselves. And, let’s be honest; we’re looking for the magic that instantly transforms without much effort. But you know life isn’t a fairy tale, right? It took years to become the person you are today. You can’t expect to change overnight.
How can you make continuous self-improvement your way of life so it sticks and you don’t revert back to old habits? It begins with being fully aware and committed to a self-improvement habit.
Yes, self-improvement must be its own habit. That’s what so many people miss…they don’t think about making self-improvement a habit. How do you do that?
Carve out time for a daily self-improvement session and commit to keeping it. Start with something easy like 15 minutes each day. Turn this scheduled time into a habit that’s as strong as your other habits like eating, walking, or sleeping. This session is YOUR TIME for only self-improvement activities.
At the beginning, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing, other than learning to commit to this dedicated time. You can read, journal, make lists, listen to audios, do Yoga. Just keep this self-improvement appointment with yourself.
Concentrate on strengthening your self-improvement “muscle” by reminding yourself that…
You CAN do it! Your thoughts shape your reality. Believe in yourself. You deserve to live your best life ever.
Self-help resources are tools. Tools don’t get the work done. The workman does. So it’s your job to become skilled at using them in a way that fits your life and your needs. Put in the time and practice it takes to become skilled. It’s not supposed to come easily. Hard work pushes your boundaries so you finally start growing as a person.
Change comes from making new routines. Just as you don’t have to think about how to walk – you do it automatically – you can actually physically create pathways in your brain for your new self-improvement routines. In time, they become so firmly entrenched they become second nature for you.
It takes honesty. Realize where you are right now and set realistic goals. First you may need to go back to basics like stopping procrastination or overcoming compulsions. Your construction is only as good as the foundation you set.
Patience is essential. You’re in this for a lifetime. You’re never going to be “done”; you’re simply getting better. Remember your achievements, be persistent and enjoy the process.
Success comes from turning information into action. Pick one thing you can do today and DO IT. Taking in information is not going to bring transformation. That’s like reading a cookbook without making the recipe. You’re not nourishing yourself until you put the food in your mouth, chew it, and digest it. Just do something!
Any improvement is success. There will always be room for further improvement, so don’t look at how far you still have to go. Recognize and celebrate how far you’ve come.
Oftentimes it helps to have an accountability partner. I’d love to help you achieve your most excellent self. Feel free to contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype), and let’s get started. Also be sure to download The 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It’s free and is a great way to pinpoint the area of life you want to improve first.