Finding Purpose

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”

― Albert Schweitzer

_________________________________________________________________________________

Almost 60 years old, and most of my friends and I still talk about finding our calling, finding life’s purpose. What are we truly meant to do?

Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps explains:

“Finding your calling — it’s not passive. When people have found their calling, they’ve made tough decisions and sacrifices in order to do the work they were meant to do.  In other words, you don’t just “find” your calling — you have to fight for it. And it’s worth the fight. People who’ve found their calling have a fire about them,”

Isay has listened to thousands of people tell their story and describe fighting to find their purpose.  He describes his amazing work with StoryCorps in this great TED Talk – Everyone Around You Has a Story the World Needs to Hear:

 

A wonderful article in Daily Good elaborates on Isay’s findings by outlining the 7 lessons Isay describes in his new book:  “Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.”

I love this first Lesson:

1. Your calling is at the intersection of a Venn diagram of three things: doing something you’re good at, feeling appreciated, and believing your work is making people’s lives better.

 

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-08-49-31

That diagram shows the ‘sweet spot’ – intersecting three things: Doing something you are good at; intersecting with the knowledge that you are making people’s lives better – service; and feeling appreciated for this work.  This idea mirrors Albert Schweitzer’s quote:

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”

Your calling takes courage and doesn’t always pay well. But we know it when we are doing it.  We get in the flow; we feel good about ourselves and our work; time flies; and although the pay check may not be great, we keep doing it because we know it is right for us.

So I think it’s quite fitting to close with this video entitled: How to Know Your Life’s Purpose in 5 Minutes!  After all, at almost 60 many of us are running out of time!

I’d love to hear if you’ve found your life’s purpose and how you found it.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Happy 2017 – A Year for Cultivating Gratitude

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
― Thornton Wilder

_________________________________________________________________________________

Happy New Year! I think the general consensus is that 2016 was a rough year for most people, on so many levels.  But in this post I don’t want to focus on politics or difficulties, but instead on cultivating gratitude. A new year is the perfect time to be cultivating gratitude and a renewed focus on what you appreciate. And 2017 is in particular a great place to start because from a numerological perspective, 2017 is a “one” year. (In short: 2+0+1+7 = 10 = 1+0 = 1.) Numerology looks at time in nine-year cycles, in which a “one” year begins a new nine-year cycle of creativity, learning and growth. It is a time of intentions and planning for the next phase. The intentions and foundations you build in 2017 can help shape the upcoming years. A “one” year is the perfect time to set intentions and goals for yourself.  It’s an important year to take time for yourself and clarify the direction you want to travel. And a perfect time to focus on gratitude for what you have.  My new years message talks about this and about the importance of silence in your routine. You can read more about that here in my newsletter.  And if you want to read more about the science of silence, you can read about that in my article in Thrive.

Cultivating gratitude is so important as we enter 2017.  Psychology Today defines the benefits of gratitude as:

Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for example, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants. Gratitude is getting a great deal of attention as a facet of positive psychology: Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our well-being and happiness by doing so. In addition, gratefulness—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.

Another good reason to cultivate gratitude is:

“Your experience of life is not based on your life, but what you pay attention to.”

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-08-30-37

And when you pay attention to what you are grateful for, that becomes your experience. It becomes your experience that life is good and full and wonderful.

I have often quoted Melody Beattie here but it is so appropriate, I have to do it again.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

 

In Japanese Psychology, on a wonderful site, The ToDo Institute,  seven principals for cultivating gratitude are given:

  1. Gratitude is independent of our objective life circumstances
  2. Gratitude is a function of attention
  3. Entitlement precludes gratitude
  4. We often take for granted that which we receive on a regular basis
  5. Gratitude can be cultivated through sincere self-reflection
  6. Expressing gratitude, through words and deeds, enhances our experience of gratitude
  7. Our deepest sense of gratitude comes through grace, with the awareness that we have not earned, nor do we deserve all that we’ve been given.

If you are looking for a way to focus on gratitude as 2017 unfolds, I suggest getting a ‘Gratitude Journal’ – and start by just writing down 3 things you are grateful for every morning before you even get out of bed. And if that feels too hard, then just think of 3 things you are grateful for before you get up. That’s a great start!

If you are feeling more ambitious, I can suggest a wonderful course on Daily Om! It’s a new course I have authored and it’s available here.  The course is offered with the option of selecting how much you want to pay. No matter how much you pay, you’ll be getting the same course as everybody else. Daily Om believes that people are honest and will support the course with whatever they can afford. And if you are not 100% satisfied, they will refund your money.  So what have you got to lose? It’s a great way to start the year.

I’ll close with a YouTube clip describing the course so you can get a better idea of what it is about.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you cultivate gratitude and it’s impact on you.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

Being Too Busy

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
― Socrates

Busy – So damned busy!  It seems like everyone I speak to  recently is saying the same thing. Too damned busy. Argggghhh! The way it manifests for me is that I feel chaos in my brain.  I feel like there isn’t enough room in my brain for everything that I need to keep track of. I keep telling people that I wish I had that little tool that Dumbledore used in Harry Potter, the pensieve. Well not the pensieve itself, which is the shallow stone or metal basin used to review memories; but instead the tool, the little crochet hook thing itself that Dumbledore uses to take the thoughts and memories out of his head. He explains:

I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links.

I’m not as concerned with the patterns and links, but mostly just to extract the excess chaos out of my head!

With this in mind, I was touched by the latest article in Daily Good: The Disease of Being Busy.

How did we get so busy that we no longer have time for each other? What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?

This disease of being “busy” (and let’s call it what it is, the dis-ease of being busy, when we are never at ease) is spiritually destructive to our health and wellbeing. It saps our ability to be fully present with those we love the most in our families, and keeps us from forming the kind of community that we all so desperately crave.

I love the way the writer, Omid Safi,  explains about haal

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul.

I want to remember this the next time someone asks me how I am doing. I do not want to go into a litany about how insanely busy I am these days. I will try to remember to answer from a place of how my heart is doing at that very moment. And when I ask people about how they are, I will hope they can tell me something about their own heart and soul.

But is there anything that we can do to avoid this avalance of busyness?  In this short video –  I feel too busy! How can we get out of this busyness trap? Oliver Burkeman gives us some ideas.  The one that resonated with me is to make sure that we choose what’s important, and to schedule time for the stuff that fills us up instead of continuing to do what depletes us.

It will never all get done, so until I find that elusive pensieve tool, I shall endeavor to make time for the things I love and choose what’s important!

 

 

I’d love to hear how you avoid the busyness trap. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

This Way Up, The Website!

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy

― Marcel Proust


I am so incredibly grateful to my son Lukas! He makes me very happy.

It’s an exciting time.  I saw/heard a message when I was meditating 2 days ago:

Envision what you want, do what needs to be done to set it up and step into the life you’ve created.

That’s exactly what it feels like I am doing at the moment. Now that my book is written, I am getting it out there. Lukas has built a beautiful website; I’ve had business cards made with the website and new email address; I’m setting up speaking and book events and I’m stepping into the life I’ve created.

Suffice it to say that at 58 (my birthday was yesterday!), building a brand new website, although not completely impossible for me, would be way way beyond my skill set.  As a matter of fact, most of the stuff going on in my life is way outside my comfort zone; I’m on a steep learning curve!

Please take some time and visit the new website; it’s crisp and clean and colorful and creative. It’s called:

This Way Up Book (www.thiswayupbook.com)

I’d love to hear what you think of it. You can comment on it here or on that website’s comment page.  I’ll be keeping workshops and events for the book updated there. So visit often!

I’ll close with a wonderful video about gratitude – because I’m sure feeling grateful today!

Discover the three keys of gratitude to unlock your happiest life!

Pursuing the good life in 2016

There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.

– George Sand


There has been an amazing study done at Harvard that has lasted over 75 years.  Robert Waldinger describes this study in a new TED talk, and the findings are hopeful.

The Harvard Study of Adult Development may be the longest study of adult life that’s ever been done. For 75 years, we’ve tracked the lives of 724 men, year after year, asking about their work, their home lives, their health, and of course asking all along the way without knowing how their life stories were going to turn out.

It’s not more money, it’s not longer hours at work, it’s not fame and fortune . . . (*but we knew that didn’t we?)

What they learned is this:

The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this:

Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.

Three big lessons were learned about relationships.

The first is that social connections are really good for us, and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to community, are happier, they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. And the experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic.

The second big lesson that we learned is that it’s not just the number of friends you have, and it’s not whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. It turns out that living in the midst of conflict is really bad for our health. High-conflict marriages, for example, without much affection, turn out to be very bad for our health, perhaps worse than getting divorced. And living in the midst of good, warm relationships is protective.

And the third big lesson that we learned about relationships and our health is that good relationships don’t just protect our bodies, they protect our brains. It turns out that being in a securely attached relationship to another person in your 80s is protective, that the people who are in relationships where they really feel they can count on the other person in times of need, those people’s memories stay sharper longer.

So in a nutshell, the study tells us that the good life is built with good relationships.  And we can all work on that.

I’d like to close as Dr. Waldinger closed, with a quote from Mark Twain:

“There isn’t time, so brief is life, for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving, and but an instant, so to speak, for that.”

 

 

I’d love to hear about how you nurture your relationships. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

 

So much Gratitude this Thanksgiving!

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

[Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1963]

― John F. Kennedy

Gratitude for all we have, today and everyday!

And today, the day before Thanksgiving, I have a extra dose of gratitude.  My ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) arrived at my door today.  Oh my God – to hold my book in my hand! The experience is unbelievable.  I am overwhelmed.

Come on over and take a peek!

I’ll close, fittingly, with a wonderful video about gratitude. Enjoy this clip about The Three Keys of Gratitude.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thank you for making me a part of your day.

 

 

Please do stop by and take a look at my book. And as always thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

 

 

Unfold Your Own Myth!

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

– Rumi


Unfold your own Myth! In a previous post I talked about moving toward the best version of myself, which feels like the unfolding of my own myth.

The only way that I know how to move toward that best version is to allow my own myth to unfold. And the only way that can happen in my life, is to create a sacred space with intention.

The myth that is unfolding right now in my own life is my book, This Way Up.  This week I received the final design for my cover, which I now use as the banner on the site:

 

ThisWayUpCover

 

I’m in awe – this is mine! This will be on my own book! I feel – no – I know that I am being led, that my myth is unfolding perfectly.

Caroline Myss explains that:

One of the most beautiful ways to understand the essence of Spiritual Direction is that you enter into a dialogue with the intent of letting your spirit reveal to you the story you are living that is your life.

I am humbled as I engage in this dialogue, as my myth unfolds.

Caroline Myss’s new clip on You Tube, ‘Spiritual Direction’ is rich and full.  It is long, but so worth the time.  Please do take the time to listen.  And take the time to create the sacred space to allow for the intention to unfold your own myth.

 

 

I’d love to hear about how your own myth is unfolding.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

Happiness is Good for your Health

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy”

– Audrey Hepburn


Enjoy your life – be happy. That makes sense. And now research shows another compelling reason to be happy. In a recent article from Greater Good, the concept that happiness is good for your health is explored.

Recently, a critical mass of research has provided what might be the most basic and irrefutable argument in favor of happiness: Happiness and good health go hand-in-hand. Indeed, scientific studies have been finding that happiness can make our hearts healthier, our immune systems stronger, and our lives longer.

The research shows that happiness is good for your health in six ways:

  1. Happiness protects your heart – happiness predicts lower heart rate and blood pressure.

  2. Happiness strengthens your immune system – immune system activity in the same individual goes up and down depending on their happiness.

  3. Happiness combats stress – happiness seems to temper the effects of stress, or at least help us recover more quickly.

  4. Happy people have fewer aches and pains – positive emotion mitigates pain.

  5. Happiness combats disease and disability – participants who reported being happy and satisfied with life most of the time were less likely to have long-term health conditions.

  6. Happiness lengthens our lives – happier people were 35 percent less likely to die over the course of a recent study than their unhappier counterparts.

Happiness helps you live longer, combats disease, mitigates pain, combats stress, improves your immune system and protects your heart!  Don’t take my word for it, read about the this critical mass of research on Greater Good.

I’d like to close with a clip I have used in a past post.

Dan Gilbert explaining the The Surprising Science of Happiness.

Please let me know what you thought of Daniel Gilbert’s TED talk, and I’d love to hear your thoughts happiness and your health.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

When One Door Closes . . .

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

– Alexander Graham Bell


In an excellent article from Positive Psychology Program, seven concepts are explored for increasing a person’s feeling of well-being. It’s a great list:

  • When a Door Closes Another Opens
  • Gratitude by Mental Elimination
  • Similar Strengths – Group activity
  • Flow Experiences
  • Walking Meditation
  • 3 Positive Things a Day
  • Chasing Happiness

It’s a helpful article with exercises to explore each concept.  The first concept – When one door closes, another one opens – is one I think we’ve all had, and I think most of us would agree that the second door does eventually open, but waiting in the hallway is a drag!

Using these questions to look at that closed door can help:

  1. What led to the door closing? What helped you open the new door?
  2. How long did it take you to realize the new open door?
  3. Was it easy or hard for you to realize the new door open?
  4. What prevented you from seeing the new open door?
  5. What can you do next time to realize the new open door sooner?
  6. What were the effects of the door closing on you? Did it last long?
  7. Did the experience bring anything positive?
  8. Which character strengths did you have to use in this activity?
  9. What does a closed door represent to you now?
  10. What did you learn from the door closing?
  11. Is there more room for growth from these types of experiences?
  12. Is there a closed door that you still wish to see open?

One thing that has helped me during those ‘closed door times’ is the idea of Living Curiously. I recently discovered a wonderful website, ‘Living Curiously Lifestyle.’

The website is by a woman named Becki Saltzman – she and I share the same publicist, Joanne McCall.  One door closing led me to McCall, and what a great new door opening that turned out to be. I really recommend you spend some time exploring Saltzman’s website. It is interesting, fun and she has great boots!

The article in Positive Psychology Program is really wonderful. I suggest using the seven activity exercise for seven days, one a day.

It is thought-provoking and positive-inspiring.

What better way to close than with a clip from the father of positive psychology, Martin Seligman.

I’d love to hear about your experience using the seven positive psychology activities.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.