KEY #1: “Know Thy Self”
How well do you really know yourself? Society, the media and our professional worlds have influenced and colored who we are, just as expectations from spouses, family and friends. Most of us have grown up in a society that snubs selfishness, and praises “pleasing” others. It’s often times hard to determine which values are yours, and which are Uncle Bob’s, the five o’clock news, or your bosses. Our life truly begins when we ask ourselves, “Who am I?” and “What’s most important to me?” It’s not unusual to spend a large part of our lives, not knowing the person closest to us – “me”. Get to know YOURSELF, as you would get to know a new lover. There are myriad of ways to get in touch with YOU. Spend some time with the following questions: What is most important to you in life? What gives you the most JOY? What are your dreams and desires? These questions will point you to your VALUES. Values are those qualities, interests or aspects of life, which have continuously drawn or attracted you since childhood. You may also ask questions like What do you despise most? What are your fears? The antithesis of these answers will give you another path to identify your values. Also notice how your body feels, reacts and responds in various situations. Is it joyful and expansive? Or resistant and shutdown? All of these elements are clues to discovering your personal recipe for fulfillment and uncovering YOUR personal values. Enjoy the process!
KEY #2: Design your life around what’s IMPORTANT.
It’s one thing to know yourself, it’s another to DESIGN your life around what’s important. Start by determining what you LOVE that’s already in your life. There are aspects of your life that are already fulfilling to you – Congratulations! The more activities, people and time that is spent in alignment with your values, the more fulfilled you will be. When you are not in alignment with your values your life won’t flow as easily and you experience struggle, which is not fulfilling. Select FIVE values and identify 1-3 ways you can honor each value every week, or every day! You’ll find some activities will honor many of your values simultaneously. Integrate these activities into your life. Make room for new activities by eliminating less fulfilling activities and energy drains. This may include spending LESS time with certain people. And soon you’ll be experiencing more and more fulfillment each day.
KEY #3: Be Fully Present to Life.
Fulfillment happens in the present moment. Most people spend their time fretting about the past OR worrying about the future. Do you know anyone like this? We live in a fast-paced world, and the concept of slowing down and appreciating each moment may seem like a waste of time. However, it is in the present moment where you will find FULFILLMENT and joy. I challenge you to take ONE WEEK and consciously PRACTICE living in the present moment. It’ll change your life. You may even choose to take a whole day of silence. There is so much to notice in the NOW. Colors, shapes, textures, sound, feelings, emotions, beauty, love and all the miracles of life. When you are with someone, “be with” them fully without thinking about what you’ll say next, or what you’ll do tomorrow. BE present. Listen to their words AND to what is behind the words. What else can you notice when you are present to the moment? There are numerous places to “practice” living in the present moment – in your relationships, with your boss or employees, while making love, during a workout, eating a meal, taking a shower, watching a sunset, with your children, and even the clerk at the grocery store. And, as you spend more time “being present” to the NOW, you’ll naturally feel a greater sense of fulfillment.
KEY #4 Love Yourself to Pieces
I met a very special lady in the “healing profession”, and her words branded me for life. “If everyone could just learn to love themselves to pieces”. They say love is one of life’s greatest medicines. And it is a medicine we need to administer to ourselves – generously. I believe that loving ourselves is foundational to living life. When we love ourselves, we take greater care of ourselves, and make clearer decisions that propel our highest good. Some people don’t feel worthy of love and goodness, and consistently sabotage themselves. If you’re like most people you haven”t practiced giving yourself “unconditional love”. Try this. Clear your mind and relax, you may even lie on the floor. Imagine yourself being bathed in unconditional love. Let those feelings penetrate every cell in your body, from your head to your toes. Let the feeling expand and grow with every breath, until you are surrounded by ten inches of unconditional love. Let it all in. It feels good, doesn’t it? I used to think, “of course I love myself”. Then I did this exercise, it changed my life. I didn’ t realize I could give myself that “warm, wonderful feeling” anytime I chose to focus on it. And loving ourselves is a powerful energy with enormous benefits!!! The more YOU give LOVE to yourself, the more you will attract it in your life. Take 5 minutes each day to connect with this feeling of “unconditional loving”. For most of us, it’s an unused muscle that will need conditioning. It may feel uncomfortable at first, and I challenge you to stick with it. It’ll impact your self-esteem, you’ll feel more loving and generous, and you’ll begin to attract more wonderful things into your life. Because, after all – YOU do deserve it. Go for it!
KEY #5: Express Yourself Fully
“Express” is to communicate, convey, reveal, expose or give. “Yourself” is YOU. In Expressing YOURSELF we want YOUR thoughts, feelings and emotions, not someone else’s. “Express yourself FULLY” means “all of you”, not a partial rendition or “playing it safe” version. And, yes there are huge rewards for “expressing ourselves fully”, including fulfillment. Of course, we want to Fully Express Ourselves responsibly. It’s no longer fulfilling when our self-expression is destructive or harmful to someone else. Performers, singers, artists, and musicians find fulfillment in their work because they have a direct channel for expressing themselves fully. On the contrary, when someone follows a format that is “NOT really them” or is forced to fit a mold, the same level of fulfillment disappears. What prevents us from full self-expression? Fear of JUDGMENT. If we can learn to “let go” of what others might think, we can be free to “fully BE ourselves” What would you like to express to the world? What haven’t you revealed yet? How can you “express yourself fully” everyday? One of our deepest human needs is to be “fully seen” by another. And, it’s so fulfilling to do so. Try it, you’ll like it.
KEY #6: Embrace “Beingness” vs. “Doingness”
We are human BEINGs, not human DOINGs. And society has conditioned most of us to DO, DO, DO, and offered little to no “training” in simply “being”. Underneath all the doing in life lies some sort of BEING energy – it may be determination, confidence, love or even anger, fear or depression. Some combination of BEING energy is ALWAYS driving the DOING energy, however most of us don’t consciously choose the energy that serves us most. So, how do you want to BE? A: Overwhelmed, angry and frazzled& . Or B: loving, clear and grounded& . Or C:_____________ (you fill in the blank)? Would the “being” states of A or B influence your “doingness” or output? Absolutely. The good news is, over time you can re-condition yourself to live in the states of “being” that support your highest happiness. Your “being” states dramatically impact your level of joy and satisfaction, whether you are conscious about it or not. Why not choose consciously? What BEING states do you want more of in your life? What BEING states do you want less of? What will you choose?
KEY #7 Strengthen your CONNECTIONS
This is a BIG one, and deserves a lot of attention. For many, “fulfillment” is ALL about connection – and it’s important to each of us as human beings. There are three essential CONNECTIONS to strengthen and focus on that will create more fulfillment in your life. And, each of these “essential connections” plays an important role in our lives. And each of us will prioritize this list differently.
First is your connection to YOURSELF. We focused on this component in KEY #4 – “Loving yourself to pieces”. And, it’s so important, I want to emphasize it again. Love yourself. Build a relationship with YOU. You are your own best friend (or own worst enemy). Support yourself, otherwise you deprive yourself one of the greatest sources of fulfillment and happiness. Fulfillment begins with YOU.
Second is your connection to OTHERS. Whether you consider yourself to be very social or somewhat independent, we live in “community” and our community affects us. We become the combined average of the five people we associate with most. What is your community doing to you to contribute to – or take away – your happiness? If you’re not 100% pleased with your answer, decide whom you’d like to hang out with – then, go find them. My “community” has contributed heaploads, to who I’ve become as a human being, and to my abundant fulfillment. If you ARE already pleased with your “community”, what can you do to strengthen your relationships and create even more fulfillment?
Third is your connection to GOD or SPIRIT (however you define that all-knowing, powerful energy source). Everyone I’ve interviewed about fulfillment has intuitively known that their spiritual connection is one of the most important components to their ultimate happiness. Begin with an intention to strengthen this connection. Welcome in “spiritual” conversations, books or other means of exploring and expanding this connection. Spend time daily to nurture this ever-growing relationship. There is a mystical and intangible aspect to spirituality, therefore developing TRUST, faith and belief in this connection is key. What is one thing you will commit to doing to strengthen your spiritual connection?
KEY #8: Surround Yourself with Beauty
This is the simplest and easiest key to fulfillment AND it clearly contributes to joy and happiness. Surrounding yourself with beauty means creating an environment that is appealing, supportive, nurturing, pleasant and delightful to YOU. Your environment is one of the most powerful influences on your energy, your mood, your creativity – and your fulfillment. Your home and work environments are two obvious places to start. Pictures of friends & family, fresh flowers, plants, art and meaningful knick-knacks are simple ways to personalize and brighten your environment. Secondly, spend time in nature and enjoy life’s natural beauty – the ocean, mountains or even a local lake or park will stimulate your senses and alleviate your stresses. PEOPLE make up the third component in your “beautiful” environment. I’m not talking about physical beauty; I’m talking about supportive, nurturing, energizing relationships that contribute to your overall fulfillment. Get yourself some fresh flowers for your desk, visit nature at least once a week, and spend time with the people who love you most – and notice the impact of “beauty” on your life.
KEY #9: Set a Purposeful Goal, then go ACHIEVE it
While fulfillment isn’t ALL about achievement, it plays a vital role that cannot be ignored. As human beings we have an innate need to be useful, to achieve, to create, to be challenged and to contribute. AND, we NEED meaningful goals. Work and career is a natural place to fulfill this need, especially if there are always new goals to keep us challenged. When this structure is taken away (i.e. husband supports a non-working wife with no children), the people I interviewed reported “feeling a void” – and were searching for ways to create that sense of “purposeful achievement”. Over time the need to “purposefully achieve” overpowered the sense of fulfillment which came from time freedom. How do you get your need to “purposefully achieve” met on an on-going basis? Set yourself up to enjoy the pleasures of achieving. What achievements give you the highest level of satisfaction? Set a goal, achieve it, and thoroughly enjoy that level of satisfaction in knowing YOU DID IT!
KEY #10: Practice the Art of Fulfillment
There are many components to the Art of Fulfillment “creating magic moments, noticing life’s simple pleasures” “the little things” and “the grand”, being grateful, living your values and purpose, focusing on what’s already great, and growing your connections (to self, to spirit, to others). The Art of Fulfillment is about cultivating more happiness, more peace, more joy, more meaning, more purpose – aaaaahhhhhhh, MORE life fulfillment!!! This key is SIMPLE. Focus on creating fulfillment – and YOU WILL attract it. Each of the components listed above will be topics in future issues of “SoulFULLY Living – Newsletter”. In the meantime – what is one “magic moment” you can create THIS WEEK? What are you GRATEFUL for? You CAN find fulfillment in looking at a flower or going to the grocery store – if you choose it. Schedule a “FULFILLMENT seeking week”. All week long focus on everything and anything that’s fulfilling to you. Discover new ones and search out others. The greater your intention to be fulfilled, the more ways you’l find to create it.
KEY #10 1/2: Trust the Process
So, you have gotten clear about WHO you are and WHAT you want. You are practicing the Art of Fulfillment. You are strengthening your CONNECTIONS and surrounding yourself with beauty. You are setting goals and taking action. and still life does not seem to be cooperating. This is where “trust”comes in. Life Is a process – with ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys. And, for every bump in the road, there IS a gift for you. The gift may be a “learning”, something to challenge or strengthen you, a new opportunity, or a chance meeting (like ours!). Life offers us gifts every day, all day long, if we choose to look for them. As we combine our spiritual connection with an expectation that “life IS supporting our highest good”, we can relax a bit and begin to more fully enjoy our experience here as human beings. Enjoy your journey!