When I was leaving my 30s and entering the journey through mid-life, I remember feeling great uncertainty as I pondered what my life purpose was, what brought me joy and how I would find these answers. A good friend and mentor of the time said to me, “All we need to know is What, the universe provides the How.” Although these words of wisdom were contrary to how I lived the first half of my life, I decided to heed them.
The next decade became my personal experiment in discovering what matters to me. I began by asking myself, “What do I need to know?” The ensuing two decades of experience and reflective hindsight taught me what matters most, no matter what we are currently facing in life. Here’s my list.
Joy is an inside job
As an ambitious, results-oriented thirty-year old, my attention was focused on the outer world of people and things. I never questioned that the ethos of the day—pursuit of material success in the outer world—was not where joy lived. However, when I discovered I did not know what brought me joy, I knew I was onto something important.
Where did my joy go? The answer to that question was, “Deep inside, and buried by layers of not-so-joyful stuff.” What I did not realize then, but do now, was no one or no thing is responsible for how I feel. I create my own feelings. How I feel is my choice of response to what is occurring within and around me.
Consequently, my feelings of joy are not created by anything or anyone. I create them. Therefore, rekindling one’s joy is all about peeling back the layers of defense built up from years of resistance. As we become skilled at eliminating resistance or defensiveness, our self-mastery grows, and it is self-mastery that uncovers our natural state of inner joy.
You alone are responsible for taking an interest in your own growth. Understanding
your deepest fears and pain is what will move you forward. If you can do this, you
will be rewarded with not only a deeper connection with yourself, but also with
others. Jenni Young
Socrates (470-399 BC) dictum “know thyself” shaped cultural and intellectual development in such a way that we now know all knowledge is self-knowledge. To translate, the wiser I become about myself, the wiser I am about the world.
How we become wiser is to pay attention, in the moment, to our inner experience of sensations, thoughts and emotions. Through the practice of moment-to-moment awareness, we learn what our patterns of resistance are and where they are stored in our bodies.
All suppressed (unresolved) experiences and emotions are held in the body. A lifelong holding pattern will eventually express itself in mental or physical dis-ease. Nevertheless, with awareness and understanding of our holding patterns, we can now choose what to keep, what to release and what to change.
Focus on what you want more of; forget what you don’t want.
Our intention is our mental commitment to carry out an action in the future. Without an action in mind, we can wander aimlessly through life without meaning or direction. Setting an intention activates and directs our energy while putting the universe on notice.
Once our intention is set, the universe aligns its “how-to” energy with our “what” energy. When this alignment occurs, we experience being in the flow. That is, our inside and our outside worlds are synchronized, and what we wanted more of has come to us without great effort.
An intention I am currently working on has to do with releasing judgment. I use the following affirmation to remind me of my intent—right thoughts, right words, right actions.
Truth & Trust Matter
Those who have failed to work toward the truth have missed the purpose of
Even though the adage “perception is reality,” is a commonplace belief, perception does not equate to truth. In fact, rarely would our perception of an event or experience be referred to as truthful. Of course, perception feels like truth to the perceiver, but we know that 10 other perceivers of the same event likely perceived 10 different experiences.
PERCEPTION = values + beliefs + conditioning + past experiences + interpretations
Getting to the truth, requires us to dig deeper than the filter of our perception, which is coloured by our past.
To illustrate, the truth about reciprocity is age old. From experience, we know that if we react with anger and violence, we will receive the same in return. Equally, if you react with loving kindness, you will receive loving kindness in return.
The challenge for society as a whole is our limiting belief/perception that there are only winners and losers so if we don’t want to be a loser, we have to protect ourselves with anger and/or violence. In fact, the universal truth about reciprocity is this—do unto others as you would have others do unto you. It is only our fear that holds us back from honouring this truth.
Interestingly, when our responses are governed by universal truths rather than past conditioning, others trust us. More importantly, we trust ourselves. During a recent time of truth telling, a friend said to me “You speak like I think,” which is exactly what occurs to all of us when we hear the truth.
Truth be told, I need to end this blog before I lose your attention. Tune in next week for my final four “Whats” that matter most.
In the meantime, how joy-filled are you? What do you need to know (awareness) to tap into your joy? With that in mind, what intention can you set to bring you closer to what you want more of? And finally, in the process of answering these three questions, what truth about yourself did you uncover?
For more on What Matters, click here.
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