If you have been following my blogs or seen my website, you have probably heard me say, “AWAKEN! It is time to live a more meaningful life!” Today, the question that begs an answer is, how? How do you go from busy, busy, busy people pulling you here and there, not enough time in the day to finish the projects, not enough energy to meet all the family demands, working a ho-hum job that just pays the bills… to meaningful?
After all, if you are like most people, you are just trying to survive, make ends meet, get to work on time, be nice, and occasionally get a guilt-motivated workout in. Right? Just getting through each day is challenging enough. Admittedly maybe a bit ordinary and mediocre, but demanding, nonetheless. Meaningful??
Maybe you feel that some of what you do is meaningful. Taking care of the kids is meaningful. Listening to a friend is meaningful. Paying the bills is important, so I guess that’s meaningful. Loving well is meaningful. But where is the passion in the meaning? How do you go from an ordinary, mediocre, busy existence into a passion fueled – can’t wait for tomorrow – making a difference everyday – life? Does that kind of life even exist?
I think it does, and I think it starts with you.
Passion and a meaningful life are not fueled from outside of you somewhere. For instance, you might think that winning the lottery would be just what you need to live a more meaningful life. After all, you would not always have to work so hard at your ho-hum job. You could finally do what you really want to do. Consequently, you reason, your improved bank balance would bring you the passion you need to live a more meaningful life.
Or, maybe for you, it has nothing to do with money. Maybe, if that toxic person that has invaded your life would just leave you alone for a while (or permanently), you would be way less distracted and could finally find something you feel passionate about and thus achieve more meaning in your life.
Or, possibly, if you could find a better job. Doing something that you actually like, rather than doing something every day that you don’t really care about. Maybe that would give you more meaning and ignite passion.
Here is the reality check: Passion and meaning do not come from outside you. They come from within. They are states of being (regardless of circumstance). Passion is about who you are being and how you feel inside. It is not about altering the outside condition to arrive at passion and finally have meaning. I get it; I really do. We all want a circumstance to change now and then. But, whether or not the circumstance changes or doesn’t change, a meaningful, passionate life is still available.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was smack in the middle of an ordinary, mediocre (healthy, or so I thought) life, searching for passion. Cancer was a HUGE interruption to my plans. Amazingly, however, it was during cancer that passion and a more meaningful life were born in me. Here are three lessons I learned:
• Become Aware
Cancer treatment was a rough road. It forced me to slow my life down (because I was sick, not because I wanted a slower life) and tune in to what mattered most. Living with a diagnosis that catapulted me into a balancing act between life and death suddenly gave me permission to tune in and get real.
Here’s some free advice. Don’t wait for the dreaded diagnosis. That is definitely the hard way to do it. Get real now! Become aware of how you feel inside.
Passion is about energy. Feeling depleted inside means passion is missing. Take time to get clear about what drains you and what energizes you. (If you are a pen-and-paper person, write it down. Make two columns. Energy and Depletion). Then, do more of the things that energize you and less that deplete you. Add more good things and eliminate the bad. This takes courage and bravery, and time. We often drive our lives down the path of least resistance. Mediocrity and the ordinary can be overcome but it requires a little risk and sometimes the upsetting of the proverbial apple cart.
More free advice: It’s your life. Dump the apple cart over if necessary. Life is short!
• Take Action
Get out of your head, don’t overthink it, and take action. Action can be small. Start small. Just start! Passion is about momentum. Momentum is about taking action. Taking action is about inertia. Inertia (or getting started) is about change.
Passion and, subsequently, living a more meaningful life is a continuum. It is available from within. When you become aware that your life is yours and muster up the courage to start the change-when you take some action by moving away from what depletes you into what energizes you-transformation happens! You will begin to see the possibilities. A passionate and meaningful life will no longer be a thing to reach and achieve outside you somewhere. It will become your own. It will resonate within.
• Focus on Progress
Progress comes step by step. Focus on progress rather than on the whole project. As you begin to see the possibilities, build on them. Explore your ideas and try things along the way. Do some research and get feedback. Every time you make progress and add an energizing element to your life, acknowledge it, feel it and live it. Passion will become clearer and clearer. Your life will become more meaningful.
Right in the middle of chemotherapy and wigs, passion came alive to me. Daily I focused on one step of progress after another. Believe me when I say some of the progress was very small. But it was progress, nonetheless. My life became an exciting adventure to be lived, even in waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and infusion centers.
A more meaningful and passionate life is available to you. It really is, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your life at this very moment. You don’t have to go get it. It is not ambiguously outside you somewhere, wrapped up in the crazy veneer of your life. Passion and meaning are states of being. They are about who you are and how you feel inside. So become aware, take action and make progress. It is your life. Live it!