I’ve been spending more time thinking about mind/body balance and soulful, purposeful decision making more than anything else lately – in my personal life but also in my business life because let’s face it, our work is where we spend most of our time.
I’ve been asking what mind/body balance and purpose means to people and have extended this question to other cultures. As someone who runs an online travel site dedicated to Transformative Travel, I have access to people from around the world and know first-hand how much knowledge, insight and ancient wisdom we can learn from people whose views are as foreign to us as the Chinese alphabet. This is particularly relevant in the midst of current events and unnerving shifts in politics, including rhetoric that global leaders are embracing as acceptable lately, particularly in the states, the Philippines, Venezuela, Russia, France, Germany and England. I could go on….but that’s not the primary point of this share.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the feedback I got from Asian and Southern African voices were a little different than the types of things that came from the hearts and minds of those living in North America and Europe. And, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Millennials had a different take than Baby Boomers.
That said, one measure of happiness and joy remained constant regardless of demographic, culture or age: connection and quality time with people who they valued most in their lives, whether that be family or friends, or both.
Truth be told, we like to spend time with people who make us feel good about ourselves and the world around us. We also like to connect with people we feel understand us and so when ideas, thoughts, products, services, people or things fall into our path that are inherently different to our world view, our first inclination is often to reject it and flock to safety: our friends and family who understand us, or at least in our perception.
The problem with this strategy as a “go-to pattern”, is that it is more likely than not, to keep fears alive within us which limits us from our biggest potential.
There are three things that can set you free from those fears, at home, in the classroom or at work.
First, we are enough exactly as we are…perfect, in fact.
While this may sound like a new age concept for my East Coast and Celtic friends, or the kind of thing you’ll read in every self-help book you’ve ever come across, it is not only critical to understand this statement, but embrace it and I don’t just mean intellectually: “I got it. I’m good.” Our DNA actually needs to know this as a “truth.”
We come with baggage – all of us. We come with hard-coded conditioning from the families and communities who raised us and while some of it has inherent value that keeps us guided and even grounded at times, some of it throttles us, holds us back and tells us through a small dark voice that we’re not capable at doing X or Y and that X or Y may be our life purpose or at a minimum, something that brings us joy. That voice may tell us that we’re not cute enough, or tall enough or thin enough or smart enough, or athletic enough or whatever rules were engrained in our heads at an early age.
Knowing that regardless of where we spend our time – the people we love and keep us in that comfort zone – or strangers we meet on our life path who may push us far beyond that comfort zone, we are good enough exactly as we are. This realization and acceptance will allow you to be in a quiet place with no one around you at all or in a noisy place surrounded by foreign tongues and ideas, and embrace all that is, exactly as it is, without trying to change it to what you can handle. The truth is that you can handle it all if you change your belief system.
Second: be present and grateful every single day.
Being present and grateful when you’re in a quiet or noisy place, will allow you to take in every texture and layer of an idea, person or thing. When we’re not present, we miss all of those layers, which are essentially the intricate voices that allow you to reach new dimensions. Presence and Gratitude raises your frequency and when this happens, you will hear insights and observations (or feel them) that will dramatically change your life at home and at work. Don’t try to understand how this works – just believe and know that it does and you may just be surprised.
Even though I’m more of an artist in the way I approach the world, I am also a very analytical person by nature and that combination has made me a good marketer over the years. The biggest mistake I made early on in my life, was trying to understand how something this esoteric or unfounded scientifically could pave the path to success. While science is now catching up and there are new correlations every year, it’s still hard to embrace something we don’t understand. Bottom line: don’t try to analyze how the simple act of being present and accelerating your awareness for gratitude will unlock problems and stagnation in your life. Trust me: go with the flow on this one and beautiful new things will come knocking at your door.
By focusing on what we do have, rather than longing for what we don’t, we begin to see the world differently. It is suddenly full of textures, tastes and smells we never imagined was possible to experience. You can start this process through a commitment of only 15 minutes a day — half of that time will be making notes about what you’re grateful for in your life (that day) and half of that time will be spent staring at something in nature and truly be present with it.
It can be a tree, grass on the fields near your house, flowers in a park or your garden or a butterfly – anything that you’re drawn to is the right thing. Focus on its beauty and stay present with the process. Remember it’s a short commitment of time, so give it a try and see how you feel after a month.
Some people refer to the daily notetaking process as a Gratitude Journal, but call it whatever works for you and be as specific as possible. In other words, the things you jot down can be as mundane as how the fabulous color of your living room walls make you feel or as simple as holding your child on the couch while you watch a movie. Cooking with your best friend. Having tea with your mother. Taking a morning run on the hill near your office. You get the idea.
The third point is all about purpose.
Have you ever thought to yourself or out loud – what is my life purpose? You may have spent your twenties searching for it, traveling or adopting every hobby or sport you could, or maybe you didn’t focus on it until mid-life, in your forties or fifties, after you had gone through a few life crises or lost a family member. Perhaps you’re in your twenties and thirties and are still wondering or perhaps you’re older and knew early on in life and are still living that purpose today.
Wherever you fall on the list, there’s always room for creating new purpose. Even if you’re joyfully living your purpose today and have most of those questions answered, each decision you make (including the small ones), should be a purposeful one. Regardless of whether you’re a CEO, a head of a department, running a community, a teacher or lawyer, retired, a mom, an entrepreneur or an artist, purpose matters a lot. It doesn’t matter what hat we wear during the day, making decisions that are purposeful and soulful, ones which are truly aligned with our nature, are the right ones.
We will know when we make a purposeful decision because we will feel centered, and on our path. And, it is the fluid one, you know, the path that may or may not be the road less taken, but it is the one which flows with ease, like a river that naturally moves over the rocks beneath it like a dancing angel that floats through the stars but never clashes with one.
When something isn’t aligned in our lives at home or at work, our souls are out of sync and you know when you’re there because you’ll feel it in your body. A misaligned life often shows up both physically and emotionally.
Verbally, it may come up in more traditional ways we see around us every day: ongoing complaints about our boss, a disagreement with a management decision that may or may not even affect us, or conflict at home you don’t quite know how to fix. When our daily lives don’t feed and nourish our souls, it’s time for a reset. Get quiet. Listen to your inner voice. After all, a silent voice is the one that always transforms the world. First and foremost, we need to do it for ourselves. It’s not a selfish act to nurture what matters to us most – our values, our passions, and especially our purpose.
When you’re truly making purposeful decisions that feed your inner voice, every door will open. The right job will emerge. The right partner will appear. The right life opportunities will present themselves. You will be set free, to flow down that river at your pace, one which isn’t defined by someone else’s voice or rhythm.
I look forward to hearing what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Comments welcome and feel free to check out my travel site http://ift.tt/OkXYIpwhich covers wellness travel, spirituality, luxury travel, adventure and nature experiences, food/wine, culture and more. I also write more reflective pieces like this one in my Renee’s Voice Column: http://ift.tt/2sUcRGZ.