Self-awareness is the bedrock of emotional intelligence, and mindfulness practices improve our self-awareness.
For me, it was a crisis that got me on my purpose path – a combination of a divorce, death in the family and feeling stressed and burnt out at work. In the midst of all these events in my life, I got handed a book. The book was Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra. He was not very famous back then but the book and what he talked about really resonated with me. He outlined the benefits of meditation and portrayed it as such a powerful tool. So, in need of help with my struggles, I went out and found a Transcendental Meditation teacher in Montreal. It was that one decision I made over 25 years ago that I believe got me on my purpose path and to this day, I feel much gratitude to Allan Tyreman for lending me that pivotal book and to Dr. Chopra for writing it! It was the guidance I needed at that moment, but I did not know that I needed it!
Often we go down a path and then get stuck. We get a good salary or a stable work environment with insurance and holidays and most of the things that we were taught were part of the success we were supposed to strive for. So we stay on the path until we get so far down it that it seems daunting to turn around or to go off in a new direction. We feel stuck but usually try to ignore the feeling until… we get a wake-up call.
The wake-up call can start with mild feelings of lack of fulfillment or low engagement at work. The 2021 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report shows that feeling disengaged at work is reaching epidemic proportions in the world today with an estimated 80% of the global workforce falling into this category. It can also present itself as a constant feeling of stress, anxiety, or worry. You may not be able to sleep well and you start to feel tired and unenthusiastic about life in general.
It may also show up as a mini (or major) mid-life crisis. Even if you feel successful in many areas of your life, you may feel like the success is a bit empty and you have this nagging questioning in the back of your mind – is this all there is to life? This can also be accompanied by an aching feeling – a longing to contribute more, connect more, feel more, love more, laugh more.
If you don’t realize the issue with these mild symptoms of discontent, then the wake-up call may get more intrusive, to the point where you can’t ignore it anymore. Then something magical happens. You are forced into a situation where your fears can no longer hold you back, you can’t justify living with the status quo – in fact, you no longer have a choice. A cancer diagnosis (or another dis-ease) is your body’s way of telling you there is an imbalance or lack of harmony or alignment in your life. It is saying that it is time to make some changes. So the diagnosis, job loss or your partner leaving you will often give you the exact way out or permission you have been unconsciously waiting for to quit that job or end that relationship that you have found unfulfilling or even unbearable for a long time.
Then what? Then the next magical thing happens. You start to feel really passionate or really upset about something. As Raj Sisodia, one of the founders of the Conscious Capitalism movement puts it – “your purpose is somewhere close to the intersection of what stirs your heart and what breaks your heart”. At this point on your journey, it is time to go within and listen to your heart. Listen to what makes it sing and what makes you cry – something that touches you deeply and stirs your desire to help make it better – and start to explore.
Your purpose is the unique difference that you are meant to make in this lifetime. It is about leveraging the combination of your talents, passion, wisdom, and life experiences so as to serve or contribute in a meaningful way, a way that also gives you great joy and fulfillment.
Over the next few weeks, I invite you to be very aware of your feelings and try to see where you may be on your path. Are you fired up and pursuing your passions or are you stuck or lost on a side street or parallel path? If you are feeling blocked or unfulfilled, I invite you to notice what signs are showing up in your life – a mild unease, depression, a health crisis, or another big life challenge? Remember that no matter how it shows up, it is likely going to bring with it some opportunities to help you see and explore new options. You may be on the verge of a new adventure that will take you down your purpose path – a path of exploration and eventual stepping into the fullness of the unique contribution you are meant to make.