“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” ~ Viktor Frankl
What is life about for you? To go for the gusto and experience a new thrill every day? To live a quiet life? To live a good life? To live a happy life? To live a life of meaning and purpose? Each phrase brings a different picture to your mind, doesn’t it? What does it mean to YOU to really live?
Life is about how you choose to spend the time you have – only you can define and design the life you want. What makes you happy or gives your life meaning may be vastly different from anyone else. The key is to determine YOUR Perfect Life and then live it without apology.
While we have differences, there are some basic human behaviors and emotional responses that remain constant. Take for example our shared reactions to living for happiness, living for purpose and living for meaning.
What do you think: Can you have happiness without purpose? Can you have meaning without happiness? So many times they’re linked together, aren’t they? Yet, you may have noticed these subtle differences…
It seems like everyone wants to be happy, but happiness can be elusive. That’s because oftentimes happiness depends on external circumstances in the present moment. Your health, wealth or good relationships may make you happy, but just let a circumstance change – you catch a cold, you lose your wallet – and happiness turns to misery. Happiness also depends on experiencing pleasure and getting what you want, when you want it. It can, at times, be a very superficial or fleeting quest.
Finding meaning in life is a deeper pursuit. It takes introspection and isn’t dependent on circumstances like health or wealth or satisfying all your needs and want. It takes into consideration the past, present and future. When you find your meaning or purpose it energizes you for a lifetime.
Neurologist and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, survived the holocaust so he has a unique perspective of thriving despite adverse circumstance. Some of his wisdom on the topic of what life is about is shown in the following quotes:
- “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
- “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
- “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
- “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
- “Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
Dr. Roy Baumeister, a Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University studied the differences and similarities of living a happy life and living a meaningful life. While other researchers don’t always agree with his findings, they do provide much food for thought. He suggests that…
- Pure happiness is about getting what we want in life; meaningfulness seems to be more connected with giving and sacrifice.
- Happiness comes from what others give to us; meaningfulness comes from giving to other people.
- Happiness seems to be connected more to the benefits one receives from friendships; meaningfulness is associated with providing for close family i.e. children.
- Happiness doesn’t tolerate worry, stress or anxiety; meaningfulness rises above these challenges.
- Happiness isn’t dependant on self-expression of your personal and cultural identity; meaningfulness is.
Time after time, century-old wisdom is proven true: Life is not about pursuing pleasure, since it will not lead to either happiness or meaning. Again, it all comes down to what you know to be true for yourself, because that will determine where you invest your energy.
We can’t always be happy or “up”. But we can create an abiding feeling of well-being, inner joy, peace of mind, and satisfaction that sustains us through the ups and downs. Down times are simply reminders that you need some self-care to restore the energy you’ve spent. It gives you time for reflection and introspection to see if you need to make some kind of course correction.
If you’d like to focus more closely on finding YOUR answer to “what is life about for ME?” please attend our upcoming Foundations of Life Coaching and NLP. It will be held in Ashland, Oregon, so make plans now to attend. Nando and I will support you in your quest for your perfect life.
“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.
“Many times in life I’ve regretted the things I’ve said without thinking. But I’ve never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I left unspoken. ~ Lisa Kleypas
Do you feel free to be yourself all of the time? Or do you wake up each morning and “put your armor on” so people won’t see the real you – your vulnerabilities, quirks or shame?
It’s not easy to always speak your truth. We worry about appearing weak. We worry about creating conflict. We worry about giving away our power. We worry about hurting someone’s feelings.
Reflect over the past week…how many times have you not been entirely truthful? Perhaps you’ve spoken little white lies or you’ve held back from revealing the whole truth to make yourself look better?
For example, maybe you overspent your clothing budget by buying a new pair of shoes, and your partner notices. He asks, “Are those shoes new?” Offhandedly you respond, “Oh, they’ve been in the closet for awhile.” You feel it’s not an outright lie because they have been there overnight. That’s awhile, right? Of course, it gives the impression that they’re not a new purchase. Not exactly truthful is it?
This is just one example of pushing down your truth, which is harmful to yourself and your relationships. Other ways you could be hiding your truth is by holding back your true opinions to avoid controversy. Or you hide “shameful” parts of your life because if anyone ever found out then you’d feel less than perfect, less than extraordinary, less than good.
Mentally visualize what holding back, pushing down, and closing up feels like. Does it make you feel free? To the contrary, it has the opposite effect, doesn’t it? You feel trapped in a dark place.
In light of the recent #MeToo Movement, many women are opening up about their experiences and sharing their truth. And do you know what? The response from other women and supportive men has been amazing. It’s incredibly empowering to be believed, to be validated, to be heard.
Of course, not everyone wants to hear your truth. But the people who really care about you will welcome it. Often they’ll say, “Is that how you really feel? I had no idea. Thank you for trusting me enough to share this with me.”
When you get to the point of not obsessing over what others think and you speak your truth in a calm and respectful manner, a weight will immediately lift from your shoulders. The beauty of it is that you’ll forge deep connections with those you tell. They’ll feel like they can relate to you on a more personal, intimate level.
When you speak truthfully, you open up the door for deep connection, conversation, and compassion. It impels those around you to feel safe to live their own truths, too.
I encourage you to become mindful of the areas where you could be more truthful with yourself and others. Notice who makes you feel like you have to hide and what situations make you mask your real beliefs, so you “fit it”. Also pay close attention to your untrue self-talk that keeps you stuck and not living freely. Then make a point of making choices that promote a feeling of freedom. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you explore what it means to live and speak your truth.
It takes courage and sometimes a lot of internal work to get to the place where you can live and speak your truth. If you crave that kind of freedom, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you on this exciting journey.
“In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” ~ Mark Zuckerberg
Are you excited about all the possibilities the New Year has to offer you? Or does the idea of new opportunities intimidate you a little bit? Maybe you’re worried that you may not be ready to open the door when opportunity knocks?
How can you prepare now so you’re ready to act when a big break comes your way? I’ve been thinking about this a lot because of what happened to my client, Sandy (her name has been changed to protect her privacy). Perhaps you can relate to her story….
When I met Sandy, she was a 25-year-old writer, with dreams of being a speechwriter for a big company. She’d been writing since she learned how and loved the idea of creating content to support inspirational people.
Yet in her personal life, Sandy was struggling. She had difficulties making friends and this was a source of deep grief and desolation. She wasn’t taking care of herself the way she should and this left her tired, rundown, and depressed. Her eating habits and exercise routines were less than desirable. She often felt overwhelmed and in constant catch-up-mode.
When her best friend was hired by a well-known company as a junior executive assistant, she immediately put in a good word for Sandy to work in the Creatives & Communication department. Sandy’s big break was at her doorstep. Opportunity was knocking on her door! But she wasn’t ready to say yes. That once in a lifetime opportunity sailed right past her because she wasn’t ready. Can you imagine the regret and disappointment she felt?
This was a wake-up call for Sandy to regroup and together we worked to set in place different daily practices. Have you experienced something similar? Have you lost golden opportunities because you weren’t ready for them?
Too often I see really talented, brilliant people overly consumed with developing their skills, or getting bogged down emotionally with issues of anxiety, lack of confidence, and feeling “less than” about themselves. Unfortunately, these distractions can make you miss important opportunities to try something new, get your foot in the door, and say yes to something that might turn out to be your “Big Break” or “the way to success”.
Do you find yourself holding back from taking opportunities because of one of the following “reasons”?
- You’re afraid of change or doubt your abilities. It can be scary to take action when you don’t feel ready. Maybe you tell yourself that you’re not good enough or you don’t have enough experience. I love this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
- You’re not in a position to take action. Maybe your life is too full of drama or clutter (physical, emotional and social). Or maybe you’re caught up in dealing with other people’s drama. All this will leave you tired, tapped out or exhausted, rather than excited to try something new. Make self-care a priority, so you have the routines needed to support your health and wellbeing.
- You don’t recognize the opportunity. When you’re too busy and have blind spots, you lack focus and attunement. Your head is in the sand or you’re looking in the wrong direction, when opportunity knocks. Practicing mindfulness will help you stay in the present, not lingering in the past or daydreaming about a future that will never come.
- You have negative self-talk. Don’t listen when you tell yourself, “I’m not up to the challenge.” “Other people could do that but not me.” “I don’t want to embarrass myself.” “I don’t want to let people down.” “I’ll fail.” If you hear these words floating in your subconscious, it’s time to challenge their validity.
If some of the reasons sound familiar, the good news is that they don’t have to keep holding you back. You can do something about it! And getting ready is more important than feeling ready!
Yet here’s an important caveat, being open to opportunities doesn’t mean you should necessarily act on every one of them. If deep down you know the opportunity isn’t a good fit for you, acknowledge that you’ve made a good choice and let it go. If however, there isn’t a good reason, don’t let fear get in your way.
Are you ready to get 2018 off to a good start so you can step through the next door of opportunity? Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). I’d love to partner with you and help you say “YES!” with confidence when opportunity knocks at your door.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This is an age-old riddle that seems to be without solution because it’s circular in nature. You can’t have one without the other. Similarly we often ponder: which comes first, a body you’re happy with or a life you’re happy with? What do you think?
Do you tell yourself, “I’ll be happy and more outgoing when I lose 15 pounds.” Or do you think, “I can’t even think about starting a wellness program, because I’m fighting with my ex and I just can’t face one more thing.” The trouble with this thinking is that you’re compartmentalizing yourself. One part of you is at odds with another part of you.
You can’t achieve lasting transformation unless you’re considering yourself as a whole, connected being. So what must really come first is keen self-awareness.
Building awareness for how you use (or abuse) your body at any given moment is the key to transforming your body and your life. By being mindful of your physical experience, you’ll create a vessel that can experience greater strength, balance, serenity, wellness and happiness.
How to build self-awareness that helps you to transform your body transform your life…
1. Strengthen Your Core
If your core muscles, including your abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis are weak, nothing else can be strong. Core exercises encourage the elongation and alignment of the central body. This allows proper energy flow as your body works as a connected and centered unit.
2. Practice Positive Posture
Proper body alignment helps relieve muscle tension, increase circulation, and boost self-confidence. Work to keep your ears, shoulders and hips aligned as you tighten your lower belly muscles. Be gentle and patient as you retrain your body.
3. Lengthen and Strengthen
When you start to slump or feel beaten down during the day, take a few moments to extend upward and center yourself. Try to make strengthening and lengthening a daily habit.
4. Tune in and Listen. One of the single most important habits you can implement is simply listening to your body. Pay attention to how things make you feel and where you feel them. When you’re stressed, do you feel it in your neck and shoulders? Your stomach? Your throat?
Direct your deliberate focus to these areas and connect with the physical sensations different parts are offering you. Recognize that they’re signals that unlock greater self-awareness. Begin strengthening and healing, as you discover healthy ways to process your emotions and relieve your stress.
5. Breathe Mindfully
I cannot overemphasize the importance of a regular practice of mindfully breathing deeply. It’s the one action that causes all others to fall into place. It automatically aligns and centers your body. Diaphragmatic breathing (filling your lungs so deeply you feel it extending into your belly) also cleanses the blood, massages internal organs, and gives your mood a fast pick-me-up.
Breathe in until you can’t hold any more. Exhale to a count of five. Relax and soften your body. Make your breathing as fluid as possible. Practice for 5 minutes and notice the improvements.
If you’re serious about creating a lasting transformation, please download my free 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment. It will help you identify the areas that most need your attention right now and what you can do to transform your body – transform your life.