Have you ever given it a thought what your loved ones would be saying about you at your funeral? A good way of defining your purpose in life is to sit down and write your own eulogy. Looking back on a life lived so far brings much clarity on where you have come from and where you want to go.
It is sad to see so many people stuck in a very uncomfortable comfort groove because the fear of the unknown is preventing them from even looking at alternatives.
What I have found is that if we face up to the fear and place full trust in the universe that we are here on earth for a purpose, then the universe will respond in kind.
We are here to grow and develop
It is in becoming our true self that we discover a sense of meaning and belonging. We are here to develop and grow our consciousness−to become aware of the greater reality. It is part of what the evolutionary program demands of us.
Project yourself ahead in a time machine where you see yourself rocking in an armchair well into your 80s, looking back on your life. What are your greatest regrets? What are the chances missed? Probably the greatest sin would have been a life passed without even attempting the greatest dreams and following the true destiny. How would you feel if you watched a movie about your life on all the opportunities missed and potential not lived?
Going the route of constant self-development, self-reflection, and spiritual growth is immensely rewarding. It is one of the keys to living a purposeful and happy life.
But you will never discover your true calling if you don’t slow down so that you can listen to the whispers from the universe and find a connection to your soul.
It is never too late for change and renewal
Body and mind have an infinite capacity for change and renewal. It is never too late. All the skin in the body is replaced every two to three weeks. The liver renews itself at least once every couple of years and the skeleton once every ten years.
But trauma and toxic emotions can hold us captive for decades, preventing us from moving forward and “becoming” our true self.
Stress and fear start with a thought. But the solution to a problem has never come from running thoughts and monkeys in the head. These are dark imaginary creations of the mind. Yet the mind has enormous power to create in every direction.
Practising thought discipline
Thought discipline can be practiced. It is normal for negative thoughts, old anger and fears to surface when we spend time alone in solitude. Replacing that dark thought with a positive thought such as gratitude is the first step in the right direction.
Thoughts inevitably turn into beliefs and beliefs turn into action. How are you talking to yourself? What is your inner dialogue? Do you believe that you are worthy? Do you feel deserving of living in abundance, to be loved, appreciated and valued?
With gratitude comes the wisdom that in the bigger picture there is grace−the grace that we are part of a bigger matrix, that everything has meaning, that we are born to learn, grow, and to become. When reverse engineering your life you find out that everything has served a purpose if you give it a different perspective. We are destined to become who we are meant to be.
“Sometimes success needs interruption to regain focus and shake off complacency”
– Lennox Lewis-
If there is one positive outcome of the pandemic it is that a growing number of people are seeking spiritual meaning and truth with the specter of death serving as a daily reminder of the impermanence of life.
A culture, feeding on the need for immediate gratification and the addiction to more of everything, is inherently disconnected from the spiritual. Complacency and familiarization are the enemy of spiritual growth and raised consciousness.
Success inevitably breeds complacency
It is a dangerous time when the ego shines in its glory and becomes immune to any type of criticism or alternative suggestion. I was recently told the story of a very successful young stockbroker who earned millions but then through a string of bad decisions ended up broke, losing his wife, home, Ferrari sports car, and all the other trappings of wealth. He had failed to foresee market changes, hear the warnings, and adapt accordingly.
Familiarization and relationship decay
In relationships, we fall into the trap of familiarization where we become blind to the positive attributes of our partner and take everything for granted. There is that initial high in the romantic phase where everything is seen through rosy eyes. Then reality starts to set in. The nuances of change, beauty, and preciousness are being taken for granted. A negative cloud of boredom, unhappiness, and familiar routine stifles all creativity and growth. Both partners fail to adapt to inevitable changes in personal needs each blaming the other for their unhappiness.
We take friends, family, colleagues, and long-term business partners for granted, forgetting to give them the validation that every human being yearns for until they are no longer there and we ask ourselves why we didn’t find the time to show them mindful appreciation.
What comes after reaching the pinnacle of success?
We see it time and again with highly successful athletes, movie stars, politicians, and entrepreneurs. Once they have reached the pinnacle of success it doesn’t get any better. Popstar Michael Jackson became deeply unhappy, losing his vast fortune when he realized that he would never again repeat the success of his single “Thriller” that topped the charts in 13 countries and sold more than seven million copies in the US alone.
Life purpose and meaning change several times during a lifetime. Impermanence is the seed that is sown by the universe to keep us inflow and to prevent us from falling into the trap of complacency that is defined as a feeling of smugness or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.
It is our destiny to constantly grow, adapt, change, and learn to be alert and curious
It is a recipe for unhappiness when you start losing your curiosity and the willingness to learn. We are living in an age when we have all the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. Isn’t it time to start a new hobby, learn a new language, or build something? Check out even simple courses of learning that you can download for a cheap fee here.
How many people that you know are saving all their energy for the day when they retire and can finally start living the life of their dreams. When the day comes they discover that they have all the time chased an illusion. The body decides that it is no longer needed and succumbs to illness and decay.
The biggest myth about our daily lives of “stressful living” is that stress is inherently bad. A more or less permanent emotional and physical stress situation indeed is very unhealthy and will inevitably lead to serious mental and physical illness.
But when we are in a healthy sprint and recovery cycle short bouts of stress trigger those energies that we need to overcome a challenge. We sometimes need that extra burst of adrenaline to score a goal and to focus all our intention on a victory.
Facing a global challenge such as the pandemic is also a huge chance for humanity to grow both on a collective and individual level. Our world will never be the same again. The great Buddhist master of mindfulness teaching Thich Nhat Hanh, who died last week at the age of 95, once said: “It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.”
As a child, I was frequently confronted with episodes when Dad would withdraw behind a thick grey wall of brooding silence. Only much later in life, when confronting my own demons, did I begin to understand the meaning of depression and what profound effect it can have on family and relationships.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression with the Covid-19 pandemic having further impacted mental health on multiple levels as we deal with the loss of control and personal freedoms.
It is part of the human condition that we go through stages of melancholy sadness but depression is characterized by the WHO as a condition when a person suffers for a longer period of several weeks loss of pleasure in all things, hopelessness in the future, fatigue, low self-esteem and self-worth coupled with frequent suicidal thoughts.
When to ask for help
When you or a loved one are in such a situation it is advisable to seek professional help. Medication can be necessary, especially when hereditary factors or biological issues such as hormones and serotonin levels in the brain play a role. However, medication is not a quick fix and therapy must be understood as a long-term journey to improving the quality of life.
Depression has many facets and is intertwined with an individual’s response and coping mechanism to external stressors. Childhood trauma or emotional neglect could be underlying factors for low-esteem and self-worth, seeding the depression. And, sometimes depression is disguised as a job burnout or a midlife crisis because of the social stigma attached to mental health.
Losing the sense of meaning and purpose in life could be triggered after a relationship breakdown, loss of a loved one, job loss, or the diagnosis of a life-threatening disease. A personal tragedy can be so overwhelming that the individual is unable to find a way out without professional help.
Finding new meaning and purpose
What we do know is that most forms of depression are treatable. Low-impact sport and a healthy diet rich in fatty acids and low on sugars and processed foods play an important part in brain health. At the same time finding new purpose and meaning with the help of a good therapist or mentor is key.
There is a lovely quote from Mark Twain that “the two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.” The “why” need not be the one silver arrow. Very often people are passionate about a certain career path in the early part of their life and then find out decades later that they need to walk a new path.
Learning from the pain and trauma
Everything that you have experienced or suffered so far in life has prepared you for the next step. What did I need to learn from my divorce? Has it left me with resentment fear and hate? Or, has it taught me to forgive, improved my social skillset, and made me into a more compassionate human being?
Finding a new challenge and stepping out of the normal comfort zone of complacency is a major antidote to depression. When you reflect on your life so far you will always find some stories where you chalked up victories and personal accomplishments. You can add to that success list by finding a new challenge.
For me, such a challenge was walking the Camino in northwestern Spain for the first time in 2007. I was in a very bad place at the time going through a tumultuous relationship and finding myself on the edge of a job burnout. You can read my story in the book: “Walking on Edge: A pilgrimage to Santiago”
I now take the time each year for a personal retreat. Walking one more stage of the Camino has become my annual detox and timeout for realignment and soul replenishment.
What is your inner dialogue?
How are you talking to yourself? Is your self-talk predominantly negative or positive? You have the power to change your thoughts and your mindset. Predominantly positive people are more successful, happier, and content. We like to have those people around us. When they walk into a room there is a different energy. While those people who are cynical and only focused on the dark side of life inevitably pull you down. You can shift those dark emotions by replacing them with positive thoughts. What makes you laugh? What are the five things that you experienced during the past 24 hours that you can be truly grateful for? Training the mind is like training the body in physical exercise. It takes practice and sometimes we have to simply empty the mind from all those dancing monkeys in the head moving between the pain of the past and the fear of the future.
The healing power of community
Our modern culture of individualism has mutated into narcissism and loss of community bonding. We, humans, are social beings. We are formed by the nature of our associations and primary family connections. We all need a supportive network of long-term friends, family, and community that provides positive validation. Volunteering in a group or a community for a useful project, charity, or church group that improves the lives of others changes the perspective from self-absorption to giving for others in a worse situation. Find a reason to do something for the good of something.
Repurposing failure, tragedy, and grief
Some of the world’s greatest minds have turned a personal tragedy, humiliation, or failure into success by repurposing their experience into new meaning.
Andrew Carnegie, arguably one of the most successful industrialists ever, emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 12 to avoid starvation in Scotland. He eventually amassed a vast fortune in the iron and steel industry but spent most of his later life on philanthropic projects including the establishment of 3,000 public libraries in the United States, England, and Canada.
Charles Dickens’s greatest works of fiction came from a dark place after losing his father and one of his daughters within a week. At the age of twelve Dickens was forced to work with working-class men and boys in a shoe polish factory while his father was in a debtor’s prison. This experience shaped his views of the harshness of the industrial world confronting human values.
Oprah Winfrey, raped, molested, and beaten in early childhood, faced many struggles before becoming one of the world’s most famous talk show hosts. She told fellow chat show host David Letterman that through all of the pain and struggle, she was thankful, “for everything that has happened. I would take nothing from my journey.”
Tony Robbins came from a dysfunctional family and was thrown out of his home by an abusive mother. The experience turned him into one of the world’s top motivational speakers, best-selling author of self-help books, and life coach.
In a world addicted to immediate gratification and quick-fix solutions – take a pill and it will go away – the individual going through a hard time is often told: “Get over it and move on.” Every person has a different rhythm when dealing with grief or trauma. That sadness over the loss of a loved one remains for a lifetime but over time it can take on a different perspective.
Those “dark night of the soul” moments force a look inside. A crisis reveals what needs to be changed. Complacency is the biggest obstacle to soul connection and elevation of consciousness. During times of pain and grief, we dig deep into the resources of resilience for that next hill to climb on life’s journey of growth and evolution and ultimately fulfillment of soul destiny.
“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”
A spider will seldom build its web between two hard objects, rather choosing flexible places such as blades of grass or corn so that when a strong wind comes it will not tear the masterpiece asunder. It will go with the flow, bending and finding balance with the forces of nature.
In the same way body and mind need to find connection with the internal rhythm that is soul purpose and meaning. Sadly, what we are currently seeing in the collective mindset is very much the hardening of attitudes and beliefs.
The fixed mindset and fear
A fixed mindset and fanaticism of all persuasion come from a place of darkness, fear and uncontrolled toxic emotion. The fear is rooted in fear of change that results in the desperate clinging and hardening of position to an illusory place of safety. The dancing monkeys in the head are preoccupied with thousands of thoughts a day revolving around the fear of loss and fulfilling basic external needs.
As we face the challenges of an ever more dynamic world with massive economic, social, institutional, and psychological change, resistance to the disruption of the status quo is increasing.
But this is also a time of great opportunity. There is elevation of consciousness if the fear can be transmuted into courage, and opportunity can be seen in creating a new earth.
In the words of Suzy Kassem: “Sometimes we have to soak ourselves in the tears and fears of the past to water our future gardens.”
Living a life in the Having or BEING
The ego mindset is preoccupied with having and chasing after someplace in the distant future when life can start happening, and a life of happiness can finally be lived. The heart mindset is about living to BE. In BEING fully in the present moment connection to soul purpose and meaning can be found. Our beliefs and values provide the roadmap of the path we choose to walk.
Discontent, resentment, and anger reveal that values and beliefs are misplaced and that they need to be reconfigured and realigned. The higher senses are muted. The general energy frequency of mind and body is lowered and fail to perceive the whispers from the universe. Hardened attitudes and beliefs separate from true being and soul connection.
There is a wonderful phrase from Jesus in the original Aramaic version of the Beatitude: “Tubwehun I’ makiche d’hinon nertun arha.” This roughly translates to: “Renewal to those in emotional turmoil and blessed are those who can soften that which has hardened in their bodies.”
Moving forward from a place of unhappiness can be the biggest change motivator. Remaining flexible and bowing with the wind to find that equilibrium is what nature teaches us. Our destiny is ultimately elevation of consciousness and growth. It’s opening the window to the soul and allowing the light of beauty, harmony and love to enter the room.
It’s the time of year again when wishes are expressed and ambitious goals are set but when looking back at the same time the previous year. How many of those goals did you realistically achieve? Most New Year intentions are scuttled before the month of January is over.
Here is how you can better manage your goals and set out a clear plan of action for the coming months without falling into the typical traps.
All those “positive-thinking” self-help books are telling you to dream big and that nothing is impossible. Visualize your perfect life send the message out to the universe and voila your wishes shall be fulfilled. The disappointment is big when reality catches up. Sometimes also the dream come true can turn out to be a nightmare if it is not in sync with your soul purpose.
There are several steps that you can follow in better managing your life instead of blaming everyone from the government to your boss, spouse, or colleagues for being responsible for your dire situation.
Create a plan of action
Without a clear plan of action e.g. to exercise daily at a certain time to reduce weight or to set aside a certain amount in a savings plan per month, your intention will remain vague and merely a wish. See every small step of the plan of action as building the first bridge of many bridges toward what will one day manifest into that big dream.
Keep it simple and realistic
When writing down your goals you have to look at the baseline from where you are coming from. Is the goal a realistic objective for the coming months? Is it really achievable? Is the timeline realistic? If you set the goalposts too high you will soon get frustrated and surrender into self-blame and self-pity.
Clarify your intention
You need to be very clear on why you want something or why you want to achieve a certain goal. Do you want to earn a million dollars a year just to impress the nasty neighbor across the road? Or do you need more money to leave a positive footprint for the greater good? Do you want to lose weight to impress others or because you want to lead a healthier life so that you can see your grandchildren grow up?
Intention and soul purpose
Every individual has a unique purpose and destiny. The more connected you become to your soul through meditation or taking time out for silence or deep walking in nature the more you will become aware that the universe or God is always there, leading, protecting, and guiding you. We as a society have become so indoctrinated by false images that we have become disconnected from real BEING. It is mostly about accumulating external glitter. Real happiness comes from within. Connection to authenticity manifests in all other areas of life such as family, relationships, interaction with the world, and all it has to offer.
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