Tag Archives: Truth

The Complex and Powerful Beauty of Vulnerability

Vulnerability has become quite the buzz word these days. It is considered rather trendy to talk about vulnerability, and even more so to “be” vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to share pieces of yourself that you wouldn’t normally share.  It is shining a bright light on those darker areas of your life.  It can feel kind of like ripping a Band-Aid off a painful, ugly wound.  Bottom-line – vulnerability usually hurts in some way.  But at the same time it acts as a release that can feel incredibly good too.  Shining that light or ripping off that Band-Aid allows you the opportunity to let go of that thing you were working so hard to hide from everyone – once released you can begin to heal and move on.

Dr. Brené Brown is perhaps one of the foremost experts on the topic of vulnerability. If you have ever seen her Ted Talk on vulnerability, then you understand why. She describes vulnerability this way – “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.”

And so the catch with vulnerability then is that it requires that you trust the person with whom you are being vulnerable. It is a leap of faith. It is scary and yet freeing at the same time.  To be vulnerable with someone requires a certain amount of courage and it requires letting go of the need to control what people see and think about you.  But if you are able to do that, if you can find a way to be vulnerable with someone, you open the doors to an amazingly beautiful growth opportunity for yourself as well as in your relationship with that person.

But beware the biggest obstacle of them all if you choose to set out on this vulnerability journey – we live in a culture and in a time when we are taught to believe that to be vulnerable is to show weakness, and weakness, of course, is bad. However, as Brené Brown points out, “Vulnerability is not weakness. And that myth is profoundly dangerous.” Such a true and important distinction. Treating vulnerability as a negative or bad thing only serves to make people hold on to their stuff more tightly…to continue putting on a façade for the rest of the world rather than being their true selves.  The strength required to be vulnerable is such that many will run away rather than face it.  Truly being vulnerable is one of the utmost signs of strength a person can display.  It is one of the most beautiful things to behold, and as such should be applauded not scoffed at.

Trendy or not, vulnerability is powerful and freeing, so go ahead and give yourself permission to own your story, all of it, and to be vulnerable in the midst of it.

The Power of No

Danielle LaPorte says it so perfectly – No makes way for yes.

We live in a society of that feeds off an intense need for instant gratification and a fear of missing out. A society in which saying no is virtually out of the question. Saying no means you might miss out on something really big or it could very well result in a loss of or lack of something in your life.  You simply can’t say no and expect to live a full life…or so a rather vocal segment of our modern society would have us believe.  And let’s not forget that we, as a society, judge our level of success by how “busy” we are.  The more things you say yes to the busier you are, the more successful you are, right?  So again, saying no just can’t possibly be an option.

But here’s the harsh reality – unless you say the word no, at least on occasion, you can and will lose the ability to say yes at some point, very possibly at the moment when you really want/need to say yes. Why? Because you are human and can’t do it all.  Because there are only so many hours in a day.  Because no matter how close you get to being perfect, you still can’t be solely responsible for accomplishing everything that needs to be done at home, at work, and everywhere else in between.  It just isn’t possible.  You just cannot say yes all the time.

And let’s be clear – those are merely the facts as they exist, they do not represent a failure on your part. There’s no judgment. There is only the stone-cold reality that when we say yes too often we eventually reach a point when yes can’t possibly be the answer anymore.  If you are always saying yes you will inevitably reach the point where you cannot physically fit anything more into your schedule…into your life…and so it is then that no has to be the answer.  Something has to go before anything else can be added.  Quite a conundrum when faced with the opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do, but you can’t because of all the other things you previously said yes to (things that you may not even really care about).

And who does it hurt? Let’s be honest here – primarily you. And while overcommitting on your part can create problems for others as well, by and large you are the one who suffers from your inability to say no.  So what is the answer?  How do we find a balance between saying yes and saying no?

The key is to set and honor boundaries for yourself. If you follow any of Brené Brown’s work then you are likely familiar with this statement from her on the importance of boundaries, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” Your time, your health, your sanity, your talents, etc. are important so you need to be mindful of your “Yes’s and No’s” such that you are honoring your wants, needs, desires, and limitations.  Again, it is not about any kind of  failure on your part, rather it is about being honest with yourself and not overcommitting.  Saying no on occasion to things that don’t feel right, don’t resonate, don’t align with your personal mission is not only okay, it is essential to being able to say yes to all things that are meaningful to you.  Commit to the things that light you up, to the things you are passionate about.  Don’t say yes out of guilt or some misguided sense of obligation to someone else.  Say yes because it means something to you.  If you do that, not only will you find that you are no longer overcommitted, but you will also find yourself in a place of great joy and happiness.

The Double-Edged Sword of Life

To experience life, indeed to live it fully, one must open up to all it has to offer. But opening up requires being vulnerable, trusting, taking risks, and becoming attached, to some extent, to things that are impermanent, as all life is impermanent. The net result is either something amazing or something painful.  This is the double-edged sword that we call life – you can’t choose your outcome, so to experience life is to risk one or the other of these outcomes with no guarantee of certainty in any given moment as to which you will receive.

I imagine most, if not all, of us are familiar with this concept from our own very real and personal experiences. And despite how many times we find ourselves at the crossroads of life, feeling the pain or pleasure of this double-edged sword, we forget just how good, or how bad, it can be until we are once again in its midst.

When it is good we never want it to end. When it is bad, we can’t wish it away fast enough, though it tends to cling to us all the more. The quintessential example of course comes to us through our relationships.  When they are good we savor them, desire more of them, can’t get enough of them.  Yet when things go wrong or come to an end, the pain can feel unbearable.  Even when the circumstances are such that we have not personally done anything to directly cause the painful outcome…even when we can find no fault with the other person or persons involved or the choices they have made, we still wrack our brains as to what went wrong or what we could have done differently…we still feel the immense pain of the situation.  As a result we often feel a pull or desire to retreat or to withdraw from life – a natural reaction for a species still controlled by the fight or flight response to outside stimuli.

And so it is, this dance we do with life and the double-edged sword that follows life wherever it goes. Do you dare to accept the dance? Do you trust that what you fear will be the very thing that will somehow set you free, or do you play it safe and not take the chance?  And after you get stabbed by that sword, do you dare to try dancing with life again?  How many times do you allow yourself to be stabbed by that sword before you call it quits?  All good questions, but none come with easy answers, hence the struggle surrounding this dance.

I’ve done the dance. I have been stabbed by that double-edged sword more times than I care to count. It hurts the same now as it did the first time I was pierced by it.  The fact of the matter is that no matter how many times you get stabbed by the double-edged sword of life, it will still hurt, immensely.  And each time I find myself asking the question, now what?  Surely it would be easier and safer to just curl up into a ball and shut out the world.  It would be so much easier and safer to say no the next time life asks me to dance.  And there are moments when I seriously consider these two options – there’s comfort in them for sure.  But those are the easier answers…and I am not so sure opting out of life really is an option, as life always seems to find a way to coax us back onto the dance floor.  It may take a little time.  I may have some wounds to lick, lots of  tears to shed, and an aching pain in my heart that needs time to heal, but I’ll come back to the dance floor again in time because in the end I know in my heart of hearts with each dance, regardless of the outcome, I am learning and growing…I am becoming a better person, hard as it may be to believe in that moment of pain.  Oh but if only it didn’t have to hurt so much along the way, but such is the journey called life I suppose.

It’s easy to become bitter and angry when that double-edged sword stabs you. But I choose love. Love for the person or persons who made the choices that caused the hurt…love for life in general despite this never-ending dance it makes me do…love for a universe that would have me continually experience this roller coaster of the highs and the lows of life…love because in the end that is all that really matters.  Life may challenge me, life may try to pick me apart at times, but I will be strong, I will learn from what life gives me, and I will work hard to find the lessons in it all.  And so, give me some time to rest, to feel all the things I am feeling, and to catch my breath and then go ahead and cue the music maestro…so that we can begin our dance once again, as this dance with life is all we really have and I have no choice but to make peace with it.

Truth

By definition truth is being in accord with fact or reality. But what is truth really? What does it look like or sound like in today’s world?  Is anyone really truthful anymore?

I sometimes wonder these things. Life moves so quickly and we have so many different, often conflicting roles to play that I can’t help but speculate how many people really aren’t being truthful in how they live their daily lives. We all have various roles to play and thus numerous masks to wear.  Society, and sometimes even the people closest to us, ensure we know what’s expected of us and most of us work very hard to conform to those expectations.  Not doing so can often be too difficult a thing to bear – the criticism and ridicule, the shame, and the rejection.  But adhering to those expectations or rules is often at the expense of our truth, of how we really feel, and of who we really are.  We tell ourselves it is okay because we don’t have time to worry about that anyway – there’s so much to do and never enough time.  Besides, we try to convince ourselves, everyone else seems to be doing it just fine – no one else is having any issues following the rules so therefore there must be something wrong with us if we can’t do it too, so we had better just learn how to deal with it all and follow “the rules”.

“We know what the world wants from us. We know we must decide whether to stay small, quiet, and uncomplicated or allow ourselves to grow as big, loud, and complex as we were made to be.” – Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

There’s no room for truth telling and there’s no time for being your authentic self, at least there doesn’t seem to be in today’s frantic and chaotic world. At least that is what we tell ourselves. Yet, stop for one moment to consider what you are giving up by not living your truth.  What sacrifices are you really making?  Are you losing a part of yourself through it all?  Most likely you are.  I know I was for many, many years.  When I was brave enough to express my truth, my dreams, and my hopes, both as a child and as an adult, they were met with discouragement, disinterest, and/or disappointment.  They didn’t match up to what society and those closest to me said I should be doing.  So I let go of them for many years and in doing so lost something very important – myself.  And so for the past few years I have set out on a journey to reconnect with myself and my truth.  I am ignoring the negative messages from society and the people around me and instead believing in myself and what I know to be true for me.  And you know what?  The world didn’t stop spinning on its axis.  No one’s life came to an end because I chose to speak my truth and live my life on my own terms.  I’m still here.  In fact, I am better than ever.  And I have found that I am not alone, as it appears this is a struggle we all seem to share though it is one waged almost entirely internally.

We are so caught up in appearances, in fitting in, in keeping up with everyone else, and in not breaking any of the sacred, secret societal rules for how we should live our lives that so many of us have become broken souls just wondering through life feeling lost, alone, rejected, and/or broken in some way.  I believe this is a huge contributor to all the illness and mental health issues we see today.  If only we could each find the courage and the strength to speak our truth…not only would we feel better overall, but I also believe we would find many kindred souls out there who feel the same way that we do.

“It strikes me that I need to throw out the dictionary the world gave me about what it means to be a mother, a wife, a person of faith, an artist, and a woman and write my own.” ― Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior: A Memoir

If you haven’t read Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton yet, I encourage you to do so.  She is the best example of a truth teller I have come across yet.  Her story is powerful and empowering.  And while her story is not my story, there is so much in her truth that I can relate to that it feels a bit like my story – and I think you will feel the same way about it too regardless of what your story is.

“Be bold, be brave enough to be your true self. – Queen Latifah

Slow Start, Strong Finish

You know, sometimes I can be a bit slow about things. It can take me awhile to finally “get it” and then do something about it. Not always, but with some things this is quite true.  Take for example, making the choice to live my life on my own terms.  After spending many, many years giving up what I wanted in life to appease others, I finally decided to live life on my own terms.  I spent most of my adult life doing “what I was supposed to do”, which was not always what I really wanted to be doing.  Between being a perfectionist and a people pleaser, it seemed like the right thing to do, except that it wasn’t.  Somewhere along the line of living my life according to the expectations of others, I lost touch with myself and what was important to me personally.  But over the course of the past two years I have been on a journey, trying to find my way back to my true self.

Writing about my journey has been an important and powerful part of that process, but sharing my experiences hasn’t always been easy. Originally I was very afraid to share, so I took baby steps and shared “safely” at first – in very broad, general ways with nothing too specific to me and not much detail. But I kept writing.  I kept plugging away at it despite my trepidation at sharing things about myself and my journey.  And I have gotten stronger and braver in my writing with each step that I take.  It is still a work in progress though – as with all things it is a practice I continue to work at, but sharing personal stories, emotions, beliefs, and opinions is slowly becoming easier to do.  I agonize over it less and less and I spend less and less time wondering what others will think.  I was always worried about what others would say or think about what I wrote…what would they think of me if I shared certain things…what would they say about me if they knew what I was really thinking and feeling about certain things.  Eventually though the desire to share for the sake of my own growth and healing as well as for the opportunity to possibly help someone else overrode that fear.  I also discovered as I continued to write in more authentic detail that there are a lot of other people out there who share similar stories and who can relate to what I am sharing – there’s a great deal of comfort knowing you aren’t alone on your journey.

And so after two years of being on this journey, I am beginning to share more authentically. It is my story, my beliefs, my experience, my opinions, my journey, and my truth that I share…for my own sake and the sake of those to whom it also resonates. We all have a story to tell – something we can share that in doing so will not only be good for us individually, but good for others as well.  It is a powerful, albeit difficult, lesson to learn…challenging, but rewarding and satisfying at the same time.  I may have been a bit slow when it came to starting this journey, but as Jane Fonda once said, “It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.”

Seeds Of Doubt

It is pretty rare in nature for seeds to be just lightly scattered on the ground and yet yield a bountiful crop – not being turned into the soil, watered, tended, etc. In order to ensure the seeds take root and grow, someone has to take the time to properly plant them and care for them. That’s how it works in nature.  But when we are talking about our thoughts as seeds, the exact opposite seems to be true.

A thought can be ever so gently lofted out there, by your own inner voice, by someone you know, or by a complete stranger, and within seconds that thought can take hold so strongly that it stays with you for days, weeks, even years. As that thought takes hold we begin to weave a story that explains it…justifies it…makes it true. And by the time we are done weaving our story, we have somehow managed to incorporate components that have absolutely nothing to do with the original thought.

An example – You present a project to you boss that you have been working on for weeks. You are proud of your work and excited to finally share it. After your presentation your boss simply says it was fine and then proceeds to leave for another meeting.  Immediately your mind goes to work on this one word thought/response…and here’s what that ensuing inner dialogue might look like:  “Fine?!?  I worked for weeks on this project.  I gave up my free time.  I gave up sleep.  I gave up time with my family and friends.  My boss has no idea what she is talking about.  She’s an idiot!  My project was awesome!  She has no idea what she has here.  She is lucky to have someone like me working here.  I could work anywhere!  But I don’t…I work here.  And she said my project was fine.  Not good…not well done…just fine.  She didn’t say she liked it…she never even said it was a good idea.  How could I have wasted so much time on this project?  How could I have messed this up so badly.  How do I even still have a job?  I know nothing.  She should fire me.  I’m a failure.”  And what’s worse is that the next project you are given, you have doubts from the very beginning that you can do a good job and, intentionally or not, you end up putting in less time on the new project and/or your focus suffers when you work on the project.  And so consequentially that next project is not as good as the first one you did and the feedback is, once again, less than favorable…launching you into yet another tailspin/inner dialogue.  You may also begin to interact with or treat your boss differently because of this inner dialogue, which could lead to other issues as well.  Can you see how this can become a cyclical mess?

It may seem a bit farfetched, but that’s just because it is a fictitious example. If you reflect back to a time when you actually experienced this, remembering in detail the inner dialogue that was playing, you would recognize the same spiraling pattern. And, going back to the example, notice how much was created as a part of the story that was never truly articulated as fact during actual conversation.  That one word, fine, set things into motion within the mind that quickly spun out of control.  So many of us do this on a regular basis over all sorts of things, both big and small.  Somehow we manage to allow a comment, that we interpret to be negative in some way, to take over our logical, thinking minds and the next thing you know we have come to conclusions such as we are a failure, we are worthless, we are ugly, we are fat, we are stupid, we are pathetic, etc.  It is how we seem to be wired, and the only way to avoid this vicious, unproductive, unhelpful cycle is to consciously guard against it.

It is so incredibly easy for such seeds of doubt to be planted in our minds. We have to work extra hard to ensure we don’t do things to aid in the process. Stopping our minds from going off on some random tangent as it attempts to write the story that it feels best fits the thought in question is so important.  Not always easy to do, but important to do nonetheless.  But how do we prevent one seemingly innocent thought from becoming a black hole of negativity?

Some suggestions:

  1. Breathe – This is always good advice regardless of the situation as it makes us slow down, and gives us time to collect our thoughts, and put things into better perspective.
  2. What if it is true? – Ask yourself, what if it is true? What if, using the previous example, the project was just “fine”? Does it really mean you are a failure and should be fired?  What is the worst thing that can really happen?  Keep it in perspective.
  3. What if the origin of the thought was based on something else entirely? – What if something else was going on in your boss’s world that day? What if the boss had a horrible fight with her husband or child before coming to work that day and she just wasn’t fully present for your presentation? What if her “fine” comment was not indicative of her actual response to your work?
  4. Ask – While not an easy option, sometimes just asking for more detail, more feedback, or more specifics can remove so much of the crazy story our minds want to weave. By asking you might find out that fine is a word your boss uses to mean she really likes it, or that her morning got off to a bad start and her head is just not in the game yet today. Instead of making up the story, try to find out what the story really is.

Keeping our minds from running away with thoughts is no easy task, but it can be done with patience and practice. In the meantime, don’t let the seeds of doubt gain permanent roots in your mind. Keep your perspective, calmly and logically process all possible scenarios, and don’t jump to conclusions.  When possible, seek clarification by asking questions or having conversations.  Don’t let your mind dictate a story to you that isn’t true for you…don’t let those seeds of doubt take root in you mind.

5 Ways to Successfully Cultivate Your Own Unique, Mindful Approach to Life

Everybody seems to have an opinion on what we need to do in life in order to be happy. Some people will tell you that the formula for happiness involves a certain type of career or making a specific amount of money. Others will tell you it is about the type of car you drive or the house you live in.  Still others might say it revolves around your marital status and the number of kids you have.  For some it will relate to your education, while for others it will be all about your experiences.  So who’s right? –  Society? Your family?  Your friends?  Your co-workers?  You?  Whose formula will really bring you the life and the happiness you desire?

Maybe a better question is, does any of that really matter? Is there is a one size fits all formula for happiness? Does the formula for happiness even remain the same throughout a person’s lifetime?

Just as life is not static, neither will the formula for a fulfilling, happy life be.

So how can we cultivate an approach to life and the happiness we desire that is uniquely our own…a path that lights us up and gets us excited about who we are and what we are doing? How can we remain comfortable with our own path and stand strong in our choices if/when our path differs from what “everyone” says we should be doing? These are questions some people spend a lifetime struggling with, but the answers are out there.  You just need to have some tools to help you successfully navigate that journey.  To that end, here are 5 ways you can mindfully create your own unique approach to life:

  1. Meditate daily: Taking time to quiet your mind and silence the voices that repeatedly tell you what “everyone else” thinks you should be doing. Give your own inner voice a chance to speak its mind. Daily meditation is a powerful way to clear out the stuff that is inconsequential and to focus on what really matters so you can make clear, intentional, and meaningful decisions about what you want and how best to go about getting it.
  2. Be true to yourself: If something makes your soul sing, then you should do it. Whatever you choose to do in life, let it be something that feels good and true to you…and know it will not be what others will choose to do and that is okay. Don’t sacrifice who you are in an attempt to meet the expectations of others.   Our individuality and unique personalities are what make each of us special and important in this world – remember that.
  3. Create a Board of Directors: Who do you trust most for honest feedback? It could be a family member or a long time friend. Maybe it is a mentor or colleague.  Whoever it is, identify a few core people (no more than 3-5) and make them your Board of Directors.  If you find yourself in a space where you aren’t sure what is the best choice for you, seek counsel from those trusted individuals who know you well and who will be honest with you.  Often they can help you see things you cannot about a situation and with that clarity you can then move forward with a mindful decision for yourself.
  4. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people: Take a good look at the people with whom you interact daily. Choose to be with those who reflect the good in life…those who are positive and supportive. And while you may not get to choose some of the people you have to interact with on a daily basis (i.e. people you come across in the course of your daily routine at places like restaurants and shops, co-workers, etc.), for those you do have control over (the ones you choose to spend your free time with) choose wisely.  There is enough negativity in the world without adding to it by inviting negative people into your life.  Work on limiting your exposure to the negative people in your life and focus on sharing your space with people who have a good and positive energy to them – it will undoubtedly rub off on you and help you to cultivate an approach to life that brings you great joy and happiness.
  5. Embrace change: Life is ever-changing. Regardless of the mindful approach you choose for your life, things will come along and derail you. It will happen, but when it does, don’t allow that change or unforeseen circumstance to stop you from living life in a way that is true to who you are.  Look at it for what it is, a change.  What can be learned from it?  What do you want to do next given these new factors?  Mediate on it.  Seek counsel from your Board of Directors.  Embrace it.  You can’t change it, but you can control how you allow it to impact your approach to life.  And remember, since life is not static your approach to life will likely change numerous times – it’s part of the process so embrace it and allow it to become a catalyst for great things in your life rather than a road block.

 

Sadly, so many people work their entire lives trying to meet society’s expectations…trying to follow the formulas for success and happiness that everyone else says we should follow. And often, in doing so, they fail to meet their own individual need for happiness. It is a sad state of affairs that leads many to a life filled with unhappiness, stress, disappointment, lost opportunities and potential.  Be brave and break that chain in your own life.  Dare to create your own unique, mindful approach to life.

Rituals

They have been around since the dawn of the human experience. We all have them. Whether we recognize it or not, there are things we do on a regular basis in our daily lives that are rituals. The term rituals is defined as formal behaviors…the performance of formal acts…a system of rites…unchanging patterns…repetitive behavior. Rituals go beyond just a routine, though we all have those too. Rituals are not just patterns of behavior or activities that we repeat in some fashion, but rather they serve a deeper, more meaningful purpose in our lives.

The power and importance of rituals is undeniable. Think of the rituals you and your family/friends have surrounding holidays or other special occasions. The rituals pertaining to marriage, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. There are certain activities and behaviors we feel must happen in conjunction with those special occasions in order for them to be considered “complete” and “good”. To not follow those rituals at such a time just doesn’t feel right. In fact, in some cases, especially where religious beliefs are involved, to not follow a prescribed ritual is considered sacrilege or to be setting yourself or others up for failure in some aspect of life.

For me, things just feel off when I don’t follow through with the rituals I hold dear. There’s something sacred about a ritual, even ones that aren’t tied to a specific faith or religion. Not following a ritual leaves me feeling incomplete and off center. The power of rituals in my life has become a very important part of living a peaceful and successful life. And while some of those rituals have changed a bit over time, their essence remains and they play an integral role in many aspects of my life.

Rituals aren’t just for use with holidays and special occasions though. You can have rituals surrounding everyday things. People have rituals to clear their spaces of negative energy or bad memories. Others enact rituals to bless the introduction of something new into their lives. Still others practice rituals in order to offer gratitude for all the blessings in their lives. Rituals can include activities like singing, dancing, praying, meditating, eating, drinking, fasting, celebrating, etc. They might incorporate flowers, candles, music, incense, props, specific locations, specific people, specific times, or they might be done in isolation. There is no right or wrong…no good or bad. Our rituals speak to us and to our beliefs, to our needs and to what resonates with us. Whether it is a faith-based ritual or a ritual that simply rings true for you on some personal level, rituals can be baked in deep, spiritual meaning for us as individuals or merely be part of a meaningful routine we have been accustomed to doing on a regular basis.

And so while your rituals may be quite different from someone else’s, celebrate in the fact that we all have them and that they play such an important role in our lives. We all have them and they play important, powerful roles in our lives. Do what speaks to you…find your own way….celebrate your rituals and all that they provide to you and your life. May they help you get clear on the identity of your true self and may they bring you peace and prosperity always.

Plays Well Alone

I am confident that most, if not all, of us have heard the phrase “plays well with others”. Whether we are speaking of children, colleagues, family members, or friends, it is fairly common to talk about how we can/should “play well” with others. After all, our society as a whole tends to expect us to get along with others in virtually every avenue of life. We certainly hear this idea, of playing well with others, much more often than we hear anything about “playing well alone”. There just doesn’t seem to be much interest in talking about how to play well with ourselves…unless of course you are on a path of personal development. The interesting and ironic thing, however, is that if we don’t learn how to play well with ourselves we will inevitably struggle to successfully play well with others.

I find Mandy Hale’s quote, “Learn to be alone and to like it. There is nothing more freeing and empowering than learning to like your own company.”, to be such a powerful and true statement. When we learn to be alone with ourselves we discover who we truly are and learn to love ourselves as we are. We come to a place of acceptance for who we are, as we are. We recognize the power and importance of living our authentic truth…the power and freedom of no longer feeling a need to act a certain way or pretend to be something we are not. This is the self-confidence we hear people talk so much about. And when we reach that point where we learn to enjoy being alone with ourselves and to truly love ourselves, we are able to be in relationships with others in an authentic and meaningful way. There is no longer a need to feel threatened or inadequate, nor do we feel the need to compare ourselves to others. In that place there is tremendous freedom and empowerment for sure.

And better yet, when we are in that place people are drawn to us. Surely we all know of at least one person to whom others seem to gravitate for no other reason than that person just simply and consistently is being his/her true self. It can be a magical thing to behold, but in reality there is no magic to it at all. There is just something about a person who is living life from a place of authenticity and truth that attracts others. People appreciate and relate to those who speak from and live in their own personal truth. There’s something magnetic about people who are comfortable in their own skin and who love themselves for who they truly are. Somewhere deep down inside we all recognize it when we see it and want to be near it.

The bottom line is that if we have not found contentment and happiness within ourselves, we will not find it outside of ourselves…we just won’t. So take some time to “date yourself”…be alone with yourself…get to know and love yourself. Whether you are single or in a relationship, make sure you take the time to be with yourself – discover who you are, what you want in life, etc. All those with whom you spend time, now and in the future, will benefit from it, as will you. Learn to play well alone.

Live Your Purpose

“I am here to serve.  I am here to inspire.  I am here to love. I am here to live.  I am here to live my truth.” – Deepak Chopra

This quote from Deepak Chopra really resonates with me because it pretty much sums up my personal beliefs about what our purpose in this life is all about. I believe we are here to serve one another and our communities. I believe we are here to inspire each other to be a better version of ourselves everyday and to make a difference in the lives of others. I believe we are here to love one another unconditionally. I believe we are here to live life to the fullest extent…to experience life in all its glory and to have a positive impact on the world and the people in it. I believe we are here to live our truth, to be our authentic selves and to share that with others and our community.

But that’s real easy to say…a bit harder to live out at times, especially with all that society teaches us and throws at us. I think it takes a certain level of personal conviction and desire…you have to choose to live your purpose. And with so many distractions in today’s society, so many things in your life pulling you in other directions, not to mention the people standing by passing judgment on you for the purpose you’ve chosen to live out, it can be a hard choice to make and/or stick with over time. But, with a little passion and determination, it can be done!

One of my favorite illustrations of living your purpose and making a difference in life is the Starfish poem…”One day an old man was walking down the beach just before dawn.  In the distance he saw a young man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea.  As the old man approached the young man, he asked, “Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?”  The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun.  The old man exclaimed, “But there must be thousands of starfish.  How can your efforts make any difference?”  The young man looked down at the starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea, he said, “It makes a difference to this one!””

Such a beautiful, powerful and illustrative poem. And I think it is important to remember that at any given time in our lives we may be the old man who doesn’t see the purpose of certain actions, or the young man who is determined to make a difference no matter what, or the starfish who just needs a little help. That is part of the ebb and flow of life. What’s matters is that we strive to be more like the young man so that we can inspire those who take after the old man to change their thinking while at the same time helping those starfish out there who just need a little help.

So how do you serve? How do you inspire? How do you live your truth? How do you share your love? What can you do today to begin living your purpose? You don’t have to do major things every day toward that end…even just a small thing each day makes a big difference – small steps really do lead to big successes!