Finding Meaning and Purpose
What does it mean to have a sense of purpose? How important is that? Each person differs as to what that is for them. Finding meaning in your life can be helpful in embracing the motivation to do whatever it is that you do in your life. When something has meaning for us, we find that we want to get up in the morning, and keep on going in the direction we are moving, even when things don’t always look like they are working out.
Having a vision for our lives is essential, and for each individual their vision is unique. Creating a vision, one that coalesces with that which has meaning and purpose for us, can determine whether we are successful, or not. What is your vision for your life? Is it to create your own business? or to buy land and raise animals, live off of the grid, raise a family, or to just be a worker bee, and be able to live a quiet, simple life? That vision has to be our own, based on our own inner leadings. To uncover what that is takes introspection, deep reflection, and knowing ourselves. This can be a lifelong journey. But when we get clear about it, that’s when the magic happens
The importance of Right thinking
I want to talk a bit about the importance of right thinking. I began reading about this notion of the impact of our thoughts on our reality in my early 20’s. I read the Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. The idea of actually having an impact on my thoughts was foreign. I had spent time practicing meditation, and beginning to listen to spiritual discourse, which certainly began to turn my mind around. I began exploring the notion of a higher power, by studying eastern religion, and dabbling in books about gurus, and their experiences with meditation visiting far off, exotic inner places where they would meet with highly evolved spiritual beings. I began to explore the intricate workings of my inner reality by meditating, spending time in nature, and continuing to read esoteric texts. I became aware that my tendency to think negatively had a dramatic impact on my life, however; at that point, I did not feel that I could really change that. It was just the way I was…
The importance of dietary awareness
At the same time, I began to look into various dietary practices starting with vegetarianism. I delved deeply into the Macrobiotic diet, studying cooking, and eventually moving to Boston, which was a larger community started by a man named Michio Kushi, and his teacher George Oshawa.
At that point in my life, I worked at Michio’s business, a factory that made and packaged natural foods. Part of the work experience entailed huge spreads of macrobiotic foods, every day during lunch time.
The diet, being primarily vegetarian with the addition of minimal amounts of fish, or sushi, also included seaweeds(high in minerals), fermented foods, and soy products, both rich is living enzymes, which populate the gut, and contribute to good absorption, and digestion.
Aside from my job, I spent time cooking with the women in the community, trying to learn their secrets, and methods. Many of them had multiple children, all who were raised on the macrobiotic diet, eating grains, beans, vegetables, and the above mentioned foods. I became familiar with these foods, and the methods cooking them. Eventually, when I had my own three children, this diet would become the cornerstone of my life, and would keep me from spending much time in the doctors’ office. My children rarely went to doctor’s and any ailments or illnesses, and there were not many, were dealt with using food as medicine, or using homeopathic, or herbal medicine.
Today, as a more mature person, I believe that each individual must decide for themselves what makes sense, ethically, morally, and physically, for their own personal health, and well-being, as to what they should eat. I have learned, for me, to be rigid, in any way, about diet, and what the Truth is about food, only limits me. I do not know what is right for anyone in that regard. Each person must find out for themselves by study, exploration, and introspection, what is right for them, and their own body.
Exercise as a form of spiritual practice.
There has been tons written on the importance of exercise, keeping our weight down, along with a healthy diet, but just how important is exercise? How does it impact our chances of success in our lives, out businesses, in our relationships.
Well, for a start, when we are ill it is difficult to navigate the challenges of our daily life, let alone be successful at business, relationship. When we aren’t healthy our focus is on dealing with the illness, making compromises for our inability to do things, or just not doing them at all, because we don’t have the energy, or we don’t feel well.
Point made, Exercise is an integral piece of the puzzle of our success plan. Granted, there are things in life that we have no control of, but what I am talking about is those things which we do have control over, what we do, and what we put in our mouths.
Recipes for Life
So, what exactly are these, “recipes for life”. There are certain aspects of our lives that need to be flowing for us to be able to function optimally. Our relationships must be in order. We need to be honest with ourselves. Are the friends we have actually supporting our wellness, and our success, by holding out the best for us, and by being honest with us about what they see, in regard to our lives, and our choices, or are they holding us back?
We want friendships where we are held to the highest standard. We want friends that provide us with support, and insight, not friends who steer us in the wrong direction, or who make everything about them. Ever gone to a friend, really needing to talk, only to find that you end up listening to them talk about their problems.
Relationships need to be a give, and take. We humans have a fundamental need to be listened to, and to have our thoughts, and feelings, reflected back to us, so that we can evaluate their validity. We need feedback as to the reality of how we see things and, most of all, we need EMPATHY. For most of us, we are not looking for anyone to fix our problems. We want to feel heard, understood, and validated.
This simple fact, if used effectively in relationships, would avoid most of the conflict that occurs in communication. Learning communication skills, especially related to conflict resolution are vital to being able to communicate with others. Marshall Rosenberg’s book, “Non-Violent Communication”, is a great text on how to avoid violent confrontations, and learn to interact in a way that does not contribute to conflict.
Marshall’s book provides specific instruction, and information on what he calls, “Compassionate communication”, or “collaborative communication”. His approach proposes that all human behavior is motivated by the drive to fulfill certain universal needs, and that these needs, which are never in conflict, often are unmet because individuals do not know how to effectively communicate.
The goal of NVC is to develop strategies to promote collaboration, and to meet the needs of individuals, through compassionate, collaborative communication. I highly recommend this book if you would like to become more aware of how you can enhance your communication skills.
So,relationships. They are important. We need each other. We were not meant to be alone. And besides, it is much more fun with others, as long as the relationships are clear. But what about when we are not in a good relationship, or we have unfinished business with someone? Then what? I recommend that you seek therapy for yourself to understand your part, and then, if possible, work towards clearing up the separation.
There are times though that it is right to move out of a relationship, or to end a friendship, or take space from a family member, especially when there is a toxicity going on. When there is no potential for healing, or the other person is unreachable, it is ok to remove ourselves, move on, or let go or the person, or the relationship, even if that person is a family member.
WHEN IT IS TOO HARD TO LET GO
There are times in relationship when we feel that we just cannot let go. When someone else ends a relationship with us, even through a death, or the ending of a friendship. Everyone I know has been through that, at least once, maybe more. It is very difficult at times to let go, and move on. The loss may trigger feelings of rejection, low self-esteem, self-blame, or even self-hatred.
This is a very fragile time, a time for self-reflection, and a time to utilize a support system that understands, and is compassionate. Seeking counseling at this time might be very helpful. Having good friends is critical, friends who will listen, non-judgmentally, and who are able to show empathy.
The process may take time. No one can tell anyone how long they should take, or that they should be over it. For each person it is different. The ties that bind us to other people are mystical, and deep, and are not guided by human time. The grieving process can be arduous, and often feel insurmountable. We must find compassion for ourselves, and patience, and the courage to face the loss, without resorting to behaviors that are harmful to ourselves, in an effort to cope.
BACK TO RECIPES FOR LIFE
So, good communication, good friendships, good eating, exercise, positive thinking, all these components contribute to our success quotient. There are experiences, and events that occur, throughout the course of life, which we have no control over. There are separations, losses, changes, illnesses, unexpected financial situations, environmental stressors, and overall overwhelm related to our everyday life.
One year ago, I experienced the death of my brother, and only sibling. The loss took me by surprise. I had no idea how to process the loss. I felt cheated, and that his death was an unfair occurrence. Still, to this day, I have trouble comprehending why my brother went through what he did, and how, him being an avid yoga practitioner, and health advocate, he could have had such a challenging, and painful end.
I realized that, I do not know the higher purpose of my life, or anyone else’s and, in spite of what I believe, there are forces of which I know very little about. I will never understand my brother’s death, and I will miss him for the rest of my life. I got through this loss by taking each day, one day at a time, grieving the loss, and remembering him, but knowing that I had to let go, and move on with my own life.
Loss of any kind is difficult, whether it be loss of a job, a home, a relationship, or a dream. There is a letting go process, with the goal of acceptance of what is.
“To achieve acceptance, we need to start embracing the present moment and the beautiful miracles that exist around us”. Thich Nhat Hanh
“Always say, “yes” to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself which is now, and always now. Surrender to what is. Say, “yes” to life— and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you”. Eckhart Tolle
“Acceptance is the ability to allow people, circumstances, and situations to be as they are”. Deepak Chopra
So, what exactly is empowerment? The definition of empowerment is, “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life, and claiming one’s rights. Empowerment can take place in different areas of life, including socially, financially educationally, psychologically, and politically. Becoming empowered might mean setting clear goals, and then determining strategies for accomplishing those goals.
There are certain skills that might be helpful when considering empowerment. Those are life coping skills, Manipulative skills, intellectual skills, communication skills, and artistic skills. Having these skills can help one to overcome the many barriers they might face on the way to accomplishing their goals.
Empowering others is a whole other avenue, one that involved the ability to motivate others in a positive manner, and to encourage them to be the best that they can be. By making others successful, you add to your own level of success, and you do this 100% by focusing on their strengths, abilities, and successes, no matter how small.
The Power of the Positive Thinking
I certainly did not coin this concept. It has been around for decades, probably centuries. Norman Vincent Peale wrote the book, The Power of Positive Thinking. First published in 1952, the book was translated into 15 languages and sold 5 million copies. The book touted a self-confidence as a personal belief system. The premise of the philosophy was to visualize what you want in life and to focus on only positive thoughts about the results, no matter what it looks like in the material world.
To some, this may seem like imaginative thinking, and it is. But better to think positive thoughts, which release healthy endorphins, contribute to increased energy, giving us the stamina to continue to pursue the things in life that we want. I have experienced this in my own life. When I wake up feeling crumby, and my thoughts are negative, all manner of negative things befall me, reminding me to clean up my thinking.
Thoughts of gratitude, hope, inspiration, and creativity have replaced my negative thinking, and hence; give me more time for the things I love. In addition, I feel healthier, and happier. Negative thinking never got me anywhere, except depressed, and anxious.
December 15, 2020
I am working to get this website up to speed, since there is so much I have to share on it, like the last 40 years of my life, and everything I have studied, and learned about living a successful life. Success can mean many things to many people. For one person, success could mean raising a family, having a stupendous garden, a booming business, or just being able to have the freedom to do what you want to do, on a daily basis. It’s ok if you don’t have grandiose plans and dreams, whatever your dreams are, they are valid and worthwhile. Our dreams do not have anything to do with what someone else wants. They are personal. Comparing ourselves to others achievements can only lead to feelings of inadequacy. We all have our part to play in the greater scheme of things. None of us really knows the bigger picture. Doing our best and learning to live from our heart will hopefully lead to a sense of fulfillment, and to a high level of life satisfaction.
Whatever Your Spirituality is, Use it for the betterment of your life!
Throughout my 28 years as a psychotherapist, I have always encouraged individuals to identify what their spirituality is. For some, their spirituality is going out into the country, or beside a quiet road, finding a spot to sit and fish for the day. They describe the time as a time for self reflection, “just me and the water”. This is where they find their deepest connection to their inner world, and where they can best relax. To another, going to church mosque, or synagogue is where they receive their most powerful insights, and where they feel more connected to the divine, or to a sense of a bigger reality in their life.
It doesn’t really matter where, or how you feel your connection, just that, if you do, you utilize this connection to contribute to your sense of peace. The greatest teachings in the world state that, “the kingdom of heaven is within”, and it is in our inner world that the answers we are looking for in life, can be heard more clearly.