Finding Purpose in Life

Ask yourself, “What do I believe my purpose is in this life?” When reading this question it is easy for our minds to go straight to work, and list all of the achievements and accomplishments we strive to attain in life. But, after taking a step back from those answers, we may encounter some falsehood in answering this seemingly simple question.

Is PURPOSE in life really to move up the ladder, build wealth, or buy a beach house? These are some examples of what some of us might set goals to have one day, but can we say with confidence they are our purpose? Consider the fact that our goals may not have anything to do with our purpose in life, perhaps.

If our purpose is NOT to attain nice things, go to cool places or have a house on the beach, what is purpose?

Personally, I identified my purpose(s) in life by following my will for meaning (as expressed by Victor Frankl in his novel, Man’s Search for Meaning), or a feeling that I contribution to a certain area in my life. I found much of this purpose had to do with my relationships with people and nothing to do with work or accomplishments at all at the end of the day.

I believe our society may have purpose and goals mixed up to be synonymous. As a result, our professions can truly distract us from our spirituality and understanding our real path in life. In pre-historic times, our lives were surrounded around maintaining existence, our purpose in life being the need to provide food for our family and keep them alive. Now, we take our existence for granted, and since we have less concern about survival, we embark on a search for some greater purpose to our lives through work and checking off goals. But, are we searching too far? Are we trying too hard? Is our true purpose found in our everyday existence after all?

Perhaps our life purpose is simply relieving another of their suffering by being a friend, giving love to another in a time of need, giving purpose to another, or serving as a positive figure in the life of a growing adolescent. Such examples are not necessarily sought, for these are all opportunities to pursue a purposeful life exist in our everyday lives in our experiences with friends, family, and loved ones. We are given opportunity for purpose no matter what our status, occupation or wealth. Dig deep into understanding yourself, and know purpose can be find in the simplest existence. Then ask yourself, “What is my purpose?”

THE ONLY RESOLUTION YOU WILL EVER NEED TO SET FOR A NEW YEAR

Resolution: Improve my self-awareness.

I strongly believe this is the SOLE and ULTIMATE resolution to be set in replace of all those in the past and future New Year’s.

By committing to a journey towards improving self-awareness, all other life improvements will come as a byproduct. We all set new goals in the New Year to try to improve our self-esteem and make our lives feel richer, right? We begin to think about all that we are not doing, what we do not have and what we want, and formulate these goals based on all of these components. Some of the most popular New Year’s goals are eating healthier, getting more exercise, saving more money, getting more sleep, reading more, getting a new job, etc.

But, what if I told you that we really only needed to set one goal that would lead to the accomplishments of all those proceeding? Sounds good, right? It is easier said than done, but by committing to a journey toward improving self-awareness, we will develop the discipline to lose the weight we wanted because of our improvement in decision making and understanding ourselves, and will also be able to save more money as we become more aware of our priorities and what is truly important.

Perhaps defining self-awareness will assist you as you craft this single goal for the New Year. Self-awareness can be explained as recognizing our thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires, which will in turn allow us to make more reasoned decisions and choices. The constant improvement in this understanding will empower us to lead healthier and happier lives as we make more quality decisions and choices as a result. There are various ways to embark on the journey towards self-awareness. Please see below for four simple practices you can incorporate into everyday that will start you on this path, and take over the New Year!

  1. Meditation
    Through meditation, we allow ourselves a moment of silence, away from the noise in our everyday life. Here, we are able to observe what thoughts have been floating through our mind, and any emotion we are experiencing, prompted from those thoughts. In performing this practice, we are more aware of the various things that may trigger us in a negative or positive way. From here, we have the power to change our reactions to these thoughts and create a new association to them. As we routinely meditate throughout the week, we begin to discover the root of our emotions and are given the power to change them as we see fit. Such awareness will then become part of our everyday encounters, allowing us to manage various challenges and obstacles.
  2. Journaling
    Journaling is another amazing way to reflect on our thoughts and emotions. By putting this into practice, we can visually observe what we are thinking in our minds, and begin to analyze our reactions. Our thoughts are now real and live on paper, as if they have a life of their own. In our journal entry, we can ask ourselves questions like, “What did I do great today?” and “What can I improve on today?” These sort of questions will allow us to reflect on the whole day and revisit when we felt positive, uncomfortable, dissatisfied and/or proud. We can then understand the moments which had been associated with these emotions, and strive to improve our reactions in the more challenging or disappointing moments going forward.
  3. Reading
    Books allow for us to gain more insight into the lives and experiences of others, which we cannot experience ourselves. Reading expands our perspective beyond, assisting us in understanding others and even learning from them. As a result, we begin to empathize with stories, experiences and people who we did not even know existed. We become aware of other’s emotions and the events that lead to these emotions to rationally determine if we wish to be in a similar situation or not. Now, these books have influenced our own decision making and our ability to understand humanity and even a bit about our place in it. We can read specifically about self-awareness and other’s experiences on their own self-awareness journeys. Please visit Books to check out the novels under “Self-Improvement” for suggestions.
  4. Feedback
    This last step is most definitely the most daunting and vulnerable of all previous steps, and quite honestly, something I need to do more of, which is asking for feedback. Who is a better observe of you, you or other people? Of course, other people because otherwise people who chew gum loudly, talk with their mouth full and make conversation with you at the gym while you’re mid-set WOULD NOT BOTHER YOU if THEY knew it was annoying. So, if this is the case, this presents us with a new opportunity to better understand ourselves from other person’s perspective. Maybe we can do this after a big presentation at work, or during a mid-year appraisal review, or maybe more personally, opening ourselves up for feedback from our partner or friend about how we are doing in following through on commitments or listening to them when they tell us about their day. Outside feedback is necessary for us to make a change, because otherwise we may never be aware enough to change it. For example, my partner has pointed out my increase in volume while telling a story in restaurants, which I had not previously been aware of. Now, I look out for it and make the effort to catch myself if I feel the volume may be on the rise (Working on it).

In incorporating these four simple steps into our everyday lives this New Year, we are sure to be on our way to improving self-awareness and making us an overall better person this 2019!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!

 

 

 

 

Be Careful Not to Inherit the Conditionings of Others

I have spoken much about conditioning in this blog so I will not go on and on about the importance of recognizing our own conditionings, but the main objective of this post is to understand the conditionings of OTHERS before allowing for their conditioning to impact our own. We must begin to understand where people are coming from when they provide us with their own opinions before accepting them as fact.

Why do we take advice from others who are not in where we want to be in life? Unless we wish to live a similar life as the one providing advice, we must question its relevance to ourselves and what we are looking to accomplish. It is similar in questioning whether we would take financial advice from someone who has filed for bankruptcy a number of times. We simply would not do so. There are people in our lives who serve as resources for a variety of challenges, but not for all.

Many people who provide us with advice are sourcing their words straight from their conditionings. Their beliefs may have been handed down to them by their parents, by community, by friends and neighbors, who more than likely ended up in the same place. Now, these same individuals are making the effort to influence you with these same conditionings. By understanding their conditioned fears and how they played out in their lives, we can be empowered to make the choice to own this condition or not.

For example, if my father has always had a fear of losing his job, belief that working at a big corporation was the best career and was an extremely religious person, what would you expect of my beliefs? Without the awareness of these beliefs being HIS conditionings and not my own (YET), I am likely to inherit his same fears, lack of aspiration, and narrow-mindedness towards other religious beliefs or ideas other than his, and now my, own.

We will inherit conditionings inevitably without our knowledge, for many of them had been engrained at a young age, but as we grow older and gain an awareness of the origin of these conditionings and who/where/what they are coming from, we can take the power back to reject or accept them as we see fit.

“There’s Nothing to Fear But…” BLAH BLAH BLAH

As we approach the concluding months of the year, many of us creating our New Year’s resolutions. Some people might think these goals are silly, arguing, “Well, you can make a new goal at any time, so why wait for the New Year to start?” Of course, there is some truth to this statement, we should always be growing and challenging ourselves, however the New Year is a symbol of something fresh, a clean slate that provides people with the belief they can begin again. And to that, I say, “Hell yeah!”

In my own brief reflection of my 2018 goals regarding what I achieved and did not achieve, I have noticed many factors caused me to fall short on accomplishing many of them.

The greatest limitation I have discovered in myself had been fear. Throughout the year, fear manifested itself both in my professional and my personal life. Progressing through this fear in various situations felt as if I was trekking though muddy waters. These fears had layers to them, for I found there was never just a single fear felt in a given situation. These fears had fears and I was fearful of my fears. Eventually, this debilitating feeling would blow out the spark I may have felt only moments before. As a result, searched for comfort rather than taking action against these fears.

It is easy to recite FDR’s famous words, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” but it is quite another to truly believe it. Fears are created from our insecurities and conditioning resulting from past experiences and childhood. In our adult lives, as we begin to take on the world, striving to fulfill our goals, these fears begin to stand in the way of our goals. Our choices are to run or to face these fears, and our instinct is the easiest way out, right? To run. The most difficult challenge is pushing through these conditions, changing them, and no longer obliging to the fear they have created within us.

Thus far, I have found the strongest opponent to fear has been faith and acceptance of failure. How can we fear if we have such a strong faith or belief in something? We must trust that what we are setting out to do is authentic in the given moment and not question it and feel obligated to answer fear’s doubtful questions nagging in our minds. We must believe we have positive intent in our action and pursue it unafraid. Furthermore, we must build the muscle to accept failure, for what is the greatest fear instilled in most people? The fear of judgment. In accepting failure, we can accept our flaws and our mistakes, and maybe even learn from them. Though facing our fear sounds scary, it is a small sacrifice for a much greater reward.

Quick Morning 10 Rep Stretch/ Strength Workout

If I cannot make it to the gym in the morning, I do my best to at least get one set of this quick and easy stretch and strengthening workout in (No weights required).

10 second hold- Quad Stretch (each leg)

10 seconds hold- Cross- body stretch

10 seconds hold- Arm-behind-the-head stretch

10 reps- Squats

10 reps- Straight-legged hamstring stretch

10 reps- Army crunches

10 reps- Shoulder raises

10 reps- Lunges

X 1 rep

Hopefully this gets you feeling energized for the day! Enjoy!

 

“How Long Is It Going to Be Before I Demand the Best For Myself?”

This quote from Epictetus forces us to be honest with ourselves. We question whether we are doing the best for ourselves at this time. If not, why? Are we waiting for the “perfect time” to be a better person or take action? It’s so easy to make excuses for a number of things, but is putting this off making you any better?

The Stoics often speak on the theme of perfectionism and how we can never expect perfection in life. Instead, we must be resilient to the obstacles in our path and continue our journey with persistence. How often do we find ourselves saying things like “Oh, I’ll do [   ] 3 years from now,” “Right now I am just too busy for [   ]” You fill in the blank. We all say these sort of phrases but, will there ever be the perfect time to do anything, or is it really just procrastination? (Feel free to answer but it is a rhetorical question). So now back to Epictetus’s question, “How long is it going to be before I demand the best for myself?”

New Year’s resolutions are a perfect example of the idea that Epictetus is trying to get across. Every year we wait for a new start of the year to get healthy, read more, get a degree, etc. Why do we wait for this time when we can start right now?

The reality is, there will never be a more perfect time than now. We do not know what will become of our lives in the future and the new challenges it will pose. Rather, let’s make the decision to demand the best for ourselves while we can, in this very moment. What better time?!

For myself, there are definitely goals that I have set and not accomplished. Perhaps I am making excuses and procrastinating on these feats. Let’s see…

For example, it has been a year since I first began looking for an investment property. The potentially procrastinating side of me says, “There are no homes I am interesting in purchasing, maybe it is just not a good time in the market for me to buy.” Though I am always looking every day, I am WAITING for the right property to appear. Furthermore, I have not made offers on any properties and, at times, I find myself reasoning about the inflated nature of the current real estate market does not allow for me to make a BIG investment mistake. Will there ever be the perfect time to buy in the market? Will there ever be the perfect house? The answer is no, Alex. It is okay to be cautious, just make sure you are not making excuses for yourself.

In conclusion, what I am trying to present here is that we all have goals we are putting off for the “right time,” but understand that we can only have influence over what is happening right now in this moment, not later. Whether it is a specific action-goal or simply being a better parent, being a healthier person, being a better teacher, etc. Ask yourself this question, “How long is it going to be before I demand the best for myself?” And answer, “No longer.”

Question: If You Were To Invite Three People to Dinner Who Would They Be? – Alive or Dead

Upon recent conversation with my significant other, we had discussed the three people (alive or dead) we would want to invite over as a dinner guest. I’m sure throughout life these choices have changed and will change, as if it were a lifetime- long game of musical chairs. Currently, off the top of my head, at this time of in life, I have selected—Barbara Corcoran, Brene Brown, and Oprah (though, originally chose Tupac Shakur for somewhat similar reason).

Although it seems like a strange pairing of people, I feel each of them add a unique perspective given their life work and experiences.

Barbara Corcoran is a notable real estate businesswomen and investor on the popularized show, Shark Tank. My own real estate interest aside, Barbara Corcoran’s mindset, creativity and street-smarts is what is most admirable. Her success story tells a tale of a fellow Jersey girl from modest beginnings rise above challenge and build a real estate empire through her creative wits and lessons from her mother. This crediting to her mother has been especially interesting, paralleling the manner in which her mother raised Barbara and her 10 siblings with her own future business achievements. One story in Barbara’s memoir, Shark Tales, which stood out to me had been her mother’s ability to single-handedly get all of her children washed and clothed in assembly-line fashion. The efficiency of her parenting presented the impression that being a parent was her business and she treated it as so. Furthermore, as someone whose mother is also a great motivator in my life, I take to this accrediting on a sentimental note as well.

One Question to Ask: Being someone who is very much an action-taker, what would be your advice to someone who is alternatively learning and preparing for action but is struggling to make the leap? What can they do to begin closing that gap between learning and taking action?

 

Brene Brown is an American research psychologist and story-teller. I am a newer follower of Brene Brown, having listened to my first book of hers, The Power of Vulnerability, a few months ago, but have followed her work quite diligently thereafter. Brown’s psychology focus is in that of shame and vulnerability. Such topics are definitely a hard listen, but Brown makes light of much of these topics through her own personal stories and kind-hearted nature in her delivery. It is important to have Brene Brown at the dinner table because of how much of an impact her work has had on truly becoming more comfortable with myself, my past and my relationships. Her work has allowed me to forgive myself for not being perfect and, conversely, and somewhat ironically, soak into the opportunities that come with imperfection. Her good-natured delivery has allowed me to laugh off things that have brought me worry and feel more normal in feeling a certain way by exposing the folly of us human beings in believing it’s “just me” or “I’m the only one” feeling this way. It’s not just us.

One Question to Ask: What do you do when you feel you are taking something too seriously?

 

Oprah is an American journalist, media-mogul, businesswomen and motivator. In reflecting on why I would want Oprah to be at my dinner table, I think back to the book report I did on her in the 5th grade. It shook me. The trauma and tragedy Oprah had endured herself at a similar age was something I could barely read about and she had to experience it. Through all of the abuse and loss she experienced as a child, she grew up to now be one of the most influential and wealthy women of our time. What she was able to achieve in her life, never discouraged by her failures, is a testament to her mental strength. Furthermore, I have always been fascinated by the way Oprah conduct an interview, from the linguistic quality of the questions she asks to her genuine engagement with her guests. As a writing creative myself, it is interesting to dissect the reasons behind the pairing of words, and how Oprah has been a master of this to intentionally prompt her guests to share intimate experiences. This is a masterful craft, not a skill that can be executed by just anyone. Oprah has made such word-play her expertise, just as a musical artist does so similarly to prompt listeners’ emotions.

One Question to Ask: How can we ask better quality questions to enhance our connections with one another?

 

Ask yourself this question! Who would you invite