Imagine you are walking in the dark along a foggy path using a flashlight. The path ahead is lit up, so you don’t stray off course. The fog represents your past and future and the challenges of your everyday world. They have no importance in this moment. The flashlight is your conscious presence. The lit path represents being in the present moment. When you learn how to step into the timeless world of Being, you are better able to navigate the storms of your outer world.
In my last post, “Your Passions: Pathway to the ‘Real You‘,” I shared how knowing and engaging your passions, with what and whom you truly love, helps to align you with your life purpose and what gives meaning to your life. This generates a spark of aliveness that becomes a powerful motivating factor in your living a truly fulfilling life. Now I let’s explore how to uncover your passions.
Proust said: “The voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
I like to help people start to uncover their passions by reflecting on their greatest achievements, what they are most proud of, and reviewing their strengths, talents, skills. This can provide fodder for opening your eyes to your true passions.
People often say: “I really haven’t achieved anything important.”
Please don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, reflect on what you feel good about or where, even in some small way, you made a difference. Your strengths, talents and skills are what you do naturally with ease or what gets you through challenging situations.
We also look at what you treasure and love most in life and the people who have inspired you and why. Everyone can come up with a list of these. We don’t discount anything, even if it may seem incidental.
We explore what you stand for. This can relate to family, friends, nature, cultural, civic, work, morals, beliefs, faith, etc. This is a brainstorming project, like an “archaeological dig” where everything can provide clues.
We reflect on unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. We look at what you truly want for your life. This is not about material things. Rather, it’s your deepest heart’s desire, or how you want to live or be in your life.
We shine a light on all of these things inside you. We can then sift and examine each part, like fragments of different aspects of yourself, and determine what fits and what may no longer serve you.
We’re now ready for the next step.
The Passion Test
Here is where I draw from an inspiring little book called, The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, by Janet Atwood and Chris Atwood. Take your FREE Personal Passion Test Profile Here.
List 10-15 passions that would give you a life of joy, passion and fulfillment reviewing all the information we’ve compiled for clues. The heading of this page is: When my life is ideal, I am…. List each passion in short concise sentences each starting with words like: being, doing, having.
Essentially you are writing these statements in the present tense as though you are already experiencing them. For example: being creative, or inspiring others…………Passions are not goals or what you want to achieve, rather how you want to live your life.
Next you select your top five passions by comparing the first to the second, second to the third, etc. much like an eye exam. Once you have these listed you determine markers. A marker is actual evidence that you are indeed living that passion.
People are often surprised when they have come to me to find a path to a better job or career path, we find that most of their passions appear to have nothing to do with work. This is okay, since we are looking at the whole of you.
Once you define and refine your passions and start living them, the work or career piece falls into place quite naturally with often unexpected surprises.
In a future article I will discuss how to engage your passions – how to match your unique gifts to your passions and overcome obstacles. In the meantime, you have plenty to keep you busy. This process is truly a gift you give yourself.
As my mentor, Richard Miller, often says, “What you do for yourself you do for others. What you do for others you do for yourself.”
Are you ready to start uncovering your motivating passions? Join one of my upcoming “What’s Next in Your Life” courses to get you started.
“To thine own self be true,” wrote Shakespeare. Yet, how many of us are living a life being true to ourselves?
In fact, how many of us actually know what that means?
We start out as youngsters with dreams, passions and aspirations that often become stifled by well-meaning family members, teachers, friends, limitations of resources, or our inability to find our true path. We complete our studies and training and then find ourselves in jobs, careers and situations that seem right at first, but later fall flat.
We can always find a fork in road, though and an opportunity to re-align with the “Real You.” While there are many pathways to accomplish this, one is to uncover and engage your true passions.
It’s never too late to re-generate that spark of aliveness we have when we engage with what and whom we truly love. Identifying your true passions aligns you with your life purpose and what gives meaning to your life.
Passions get your inner fire burning and motivate you. They help you develop an inner compass that guides you to making better life choices. Following your passions is following your heart and connecting most profoundly with the Real You.
In my work as a life coach I frequently engage with clients who may be good at what they do, but are not fully living their passions. Often, your relationships may be great but the job is unfulfilling – or vice versa. Sometimes neither is satisfying.
For one of my clients, his family encouraged him to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a trial attorney. He became very good at his profession, but his compassionate caring nature was being stifled. For many years he had been taking time from work fulfilling his true passion by volunteering with communities and disadvantaged children both here and abroad. Finally at midlife and in a loving and supportive relationship, he started examining his life and passions. He decided to go back to school to train to become a special needs teacher and move to an area of the country that fed his spirit.
But I have no passions!
I commonly hear this from my clients and students: “I’m not passionate about anything.”
For some people passion is too strong a word.
Another way to view passion is to reflect on the things you care about – what you truly value and what provides meaning. When you feel in the zone, when you ask, “where did the time go?” you’re doing your passion.
It’s what gets you up in the morning
– or would if you were living your passion.
Your passions can be found in aspects of your work, projects you do, talents you engage, play, hanging out with friends or family, caring for others, being in nature, your faith or spirituality, volunteering…what brings you joy or inner peace.
There are a myriad of potential passions inside waiting to become fully embodied. Your job is to identify the strongest ones and take steps towards bringing them fully to life.
What’s inside the real you?
We’ll explore this in our next issue.
Will the economy ever return to providing the good times we once took for granted? Greed and mismanagement have shown their ugly face and, as a result, millions in our nation are suffering. Those who can still afford the high life are a privileged elite.
Actually we can all live the high life – in a natural humanistic way – with the “Givers High.” The good news is that the means for experiencing this high, in terms of body-mind health, better relationships and spiritual well-being, is available to virtually everyone. Plenty of research studies support how performing acts of kindness contributes to a longer, healthier, happier life.
Getting the “givers high” doesn’t require money, drugs, material possessions, or expensive entertainment. In fact, even if you’ve had to downsize, minimize and simplify, you can still enjoy a richly rewarding and meaningful life. This elevated state can be easily realized by showing concern for others, being a good empathetic friend, reaching out to help a neighbor, mentoring, or volunteering in our community.
Change of heart
|I sense that our society may very well be at a tipping point for positive change. Perhaps this is a time for cleansing and moving from a society enveloped in secrecy, power and greed, to one that recognizes the basic human values of truth, transparency, compassion and interdependence. We are, after all, social beings here on Earth to help one another.
This change is evident in a new breed of humanitarian warriors. A remarkable journey is portrayed in Eric Greiten’s book, “The Heart and the Fist: the Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL.”
Before becoming a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Greiten volunteered in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Bolivia serving war-affected children. Integrating his studies and experience with deployments as a Navy SEAL fighting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, he learned that “without courage, compassion falters, and without compassion, courage has no direction.” Returning home, he started Mission Continues, an organization to help empower wounded and disabled veterans start new lives as citizen leaders here at home.
Our wired nature
Lots of research shows we are hard-wired to commit acts of kindness and generosity We are all natural born givers—it’s a primal urge. As early as a baby’s first birthday, she demonstrates the need and ability to empathize, connect, care and share. Her soothing and caring expressions melt our hearts, reigniting the joyful, caring child within us. Hanging out with babies can bring out the best in us.
The Dalai Lama says that “our primary purpose is to help others.” He believes that a major paradigm shift of this millennium is from the belief that “parents raise children” to one in which “children raise parents.” There does seem to be a trend among younger people toward getting high by living more consciously, as vegans, protectors of the environment, doing good deeds and finding new ways to connect. Whatever negatives may exist with social networking, the younger generation is living with greater transparency and interconnectedness than previous generations.
This natural givers instinct undeniably blossoms most clearly in the roles of parent, friend, mentor, worker, teammate, and creator. Similar to the “runners high,” Greitin sees that, in the process of giving, the brain releases natural opiates, endorphins and calming hormones such as oxytocin.
In our next article we explore more benefits to “getting high on giving,” and inspiration for giving of your best self.
These days the media is full of news about the impact of stress on our health and well-being. Modern society pushes us to be astronomical, Type A achievers while juggling work, home, family, and other activities. Then there are those who struggle to make ends meet. Still others are living without direction, passion or purpose in life. And the media and our myriad technologies themselves add stress to our lives.
We experience stress when we response to events that threaten or upset our balance in some way. How we choose to experience stress determines its impact in our bodies and lives.
Rather than trying to eliminate stress or reduce it by self-medicating, we can coexist with stress by BEING engaged with all the healing processes that enable us to live moment to moment with more peace, harmony and equilibrium.
“Tension is who you think you are, relaxation is who you are.”
~ Chinese Proverb
Brain reactions to threat
The brain’s defense mechanism is the limbic system. It has served humanity from the earliest of times when one had to navigate around saber-toothed tigers and the like. It provides an alarm signal to other parts of the brain to prepare the body’s fight or flight reflex. Whatever the danger perceived—a hot stove, an erratic driver, an approaching deadline, an angry boss—an alert signal is transmitted. Physiological functions, such as heart and breath rate, blood pressure, circulation, release of stress hormones, heighten.
Another part of the brain, the medial prefrontal cortex (MPC) or conscious rational brain, helps you think through actions. While the MPC regulates the limbic system, when you are experiencing extreme stress or threat, the limbic system “hijacks” the MPC so your primary attention is on survival and getting through the immediate situation. Consequently, the potential exists to overreact or make poor choices when the situation may not actually be a threat.
Emotions and stress
Under extreme stress conditions, the primary emotions that surface are anger and fear, especially when we are consistently experiencing various life pressures. This constant pattern strengthens neural pathways that govern the body’s rigid fight or flight preparedness. Over time, a kind of rigid inner and outer armor forms that plays havoc with the body’s organs, systems and tissues, resulting in tight muscles, disrupted digestive system, etc.
War veterans often find it difficult to shut off this reaction which is heightened when memories and feelings are triggered. In the workshops I present to the unemployed on managing stress, the common response to their job loss are feelings of guilt, shame, regret and humiliation. Many ask, “Why me?” Feelings of abandonment, self-rejection and unworthiness surface in clients who have lost relationships.
Our minds are filled with thoughts, beliefs and memories from our past that continue to surface and can be triggered by a word, image, sound, smell or taste. These triggers spontaneously evoke feelings and emotions from past experiences that are often difficult to understand.
No matter what brain pathways or patterns have been created as a result of how you’ve handled stress in the past, the brain has a resilient a plasticity that allows it to re-pattern neural pathways and create new ones. You can learn how to BE with stress, as opposed to allowing stress to ruin your life.
Underlying all of life is a natural state of BEINGness. This ground of Pure Being is where we connect with our True Self and our Source. Here we find peace, contentment, and an equilibrium that is our birthright. Here, there is no judgment, of self or others. Forgiveness and gratitude are the guiding forces opening us to the realization of compassionate love. Here you connect with your purpose, your soul’s calling and what is authentically true for you.
The understanding here is one of perfect health, wholeness and deep peace. When you are aligned with this state of BEINGness, you are no longer swayed by past thoughts, beliefs, emotions or images that trigger unhealthy stress in the body and psyche. The more you access this state of being, the more it becomes a part of your daily life enabling you to meet life situations and circumstances with the perfect response.
How does one go about bringing BEINGness into one’s daily life? By adopting practices that incorporate deep relaxation, breathing, one-pointed concentration, emotional and cognitive healing. We can learn to witness, release attachments, witnessing and practice meditative inquiry. Let’s explore each of these techniques.
The body is filled with information that can transmit as messages creating sensations of pain, stiffness, fatigue. While we are caretakers of this wonderful body temple, we tend to ignore these messages until the symptoms become acute. Within the brain is a holographic-like map of the body. When we systematically bring awareness to each part of the body through progressive relaxation, research has revealed that this not only brings healing to physical abnormalities, but also decreases depression, panic attacks, phobias, and more. It also helps to restructure neural pathways in the brain that support our overall well-being.
Stressful situations tend to produce shallow rapid breathing controlled by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response), while deep breathing stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction that calms us down. Practicing various mindfulness breathing techniques brings your awareness to subtler levels of energy flowing through the body. Then, when stress shows up, your body automatically responds with deep breathing and calmness, accessing the rational brain to help you with the perfect energetic response.
Begin by taking a few minutes to experience BEING with my video NOW!
When I heard the word “Taoism” mentioned on the evening news one night, my ears pulled me in front of the TV. A former Wall Street investment banker, entrepreneur–and ordained minister–was talking about achieving abundance and fulfillment using spiritual principles. Was this yet another sign that the world is changing, that there might even be hope for Wall Street?
Destiny prevailed a few months later with my introduction to Ernest D. Chu’s book, Soul Currency: Investing Your Inner Wealth for Fulfillment & Abundance. The author was the same person from the news clip.
As a life coach and student of spiritual teachings, I found this book a compelling and profound guide for how to create purpose and fulfillment for people in all walks of life. Chu cleverly weaves familiar jargon from the world of finance with spiritual concepts. Inspired by Chu’s book, I decided to teach a course based on these concepts and am sharing the essence of what I will cover there.
Love: the soul’s spiritual currency
Chu uses the word currency in two ways: 1) As a medium for exchanging value of spiritual energy that is shared, donated, or invested and 2) Flowing like a stream, air, or electric current. What’s intriguing is that the current can flow effortlessly and abundantly toward you, or it can require great personal effort and arrive as a trickle. Yet the capacity of this same infinite Divine force is available to everyone–for positive, intangible outcomes as well as material things.
The soul’s true currency is love, the creative force that connects all of life. It is accessed when you respond and act authentically. It requires a shift of consciousness from the duality world of haves and have-nots, good and evil, into one that acknowledges that everything comes from one Source. This Source always responds to authenticity and the openness to receive, flooding you with the creative flow of inspiration, imagination, and insight.
True abundance can be yours when you acknowledge your spiritual assets; move beyond lack, limitation or greed and learn how to properly invest your soul currency. Such flood of inspiration have graced me many times throughout my life. When it arrives, I sometimes feel like I’ve been taken over or possessed by a powerful force. These creative inspirations may not always have made me fortunes, but have resulted in an abundance of growth and fulfillment.
Taking stock of assets
Every investment strategy begins with an examination of your unique assets, inner resources and investible capital. Chu asks you to examine them within the context of the following categories: 1) intuition and guidance, 2) higher personality traits, 3) creativity, and 4) cultivated skills and knowledge.
You can place a dollar value on such assets as wisdom, optimism, and communication skills as if you were going to sell them on eBay. When you add up the dollar value of your inner resources and add them to your financial balance sheet, the overall assets you have to invest in life are viewed from a whole new perspective. This adds greatly to your self-worth!
What is your soul calling you to do with your life? It’s a yearning within that comes from the heart. Those callings can be accessed through devotions such as prayer, meditation, or being in nature. When you come to a place of focus, listen deeply to your heart for what truly fulfills you. There you will find love, the creative force behind all life.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by what you really love.”
Every creative thought, when focused, sends a powerful intentional current that flows into the Universe. The Universe is always ready to respond, especially when that intention is connected to your true inner resources and is emotionally charged with compassion, and/or enthusiasm.
Chu’s formula: Focus + Intention + Spiritual Assets multiplied by Love = Spiritual Currency.
Convert counterfeit currency
Counterfeit currency is a fraudulent story you’ve told yourself; a story rooted in fear, isolation, limitation and pain. When you invest in thoughts and feelings such as unworthiness or feeling the world is against you, you accumulate spiritual debts and add liabilities to your balance sheet. Yet the jury, or inner critic, that convicted you of these untruths was simply pointing out places where you’ve felt wounded.
The conversion process consists of changing your story from lies to love, from untruths and judgments to one of spiritual assets. Find a friend or coach who champions you, and align yourself with real people who do the same. Create affirmative statements with beliefs that fit your purpose and carry words of empowerment, like abundance and love! Use Chu’s formula for attracting people, situations, and opportunities that match the call of your soul. And practice, practice, practice.
What brain science reveals
Researchers are finding that thoughts and feelings change the structure and functioning of the brain and consciousness through processes called “neural resonance” (NR) and “neural dissonance” (ND). Read Andrew Newburg, M.D., and Mark Waldman’s book, How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist.
Each of our thoughts are either attracting (NR) or repelling (ND). With negative thoughts and feelings, the brain sets up a repelling field over time. The surprising thing is that the brain prefers negative thoughts because it is pre-programmed to handle fight-or-flight situations, perceiving them as threats. Chu’s formula on focus and intention produces powerful results in such situations.
We are attracted to people and situations who hold underlying values similar to our own. According to Newburg and Waldman, as you embody positive thoughts and feelings and begin to visualize what you want, you build neurocircuits that help you attract more of the same.
New strategy, new story!
Make 2011 the year you take account of all your spiritual assets. Look at your liabilities. Examine each one for its truths. Convert these into assets with the filter of forgiveness and the currency of love. Write a new story for yourself based on an investment strategy composed of love of self, self-forgiveness, an openness to give and receive, and connection with others. The outcome: an abundance of the Universe’s soul currency!