The Inner Path: Don't Lose Yourself in A Role

 Authentic human interactions become impossible when you lose yourself in a role. ~ Eckhart Tolle

If you sometimes find yourself becoming attached to what you do and the job title that you have, to such an extent that they begin to feel like part of you, as one.  Know that your title, for example, as manager, officer, teacher, parent, secretary, etc, are functions you fulfill... roles you play, they are not you. It's one thing to tell others what you do for a living by introducing yourself with your job title or social position, but it's  when you completely become that job function or title you begin playing a role.  

When you think you are the roles and functions you have,  then you also think that a person with a more elevated role than yours… boss, manager or executive, is better than another role.. a janitor, bus boy or taxi driver, etc., and that creates a big problem of labeling people as anything other than human being.

          I am a teacher  *  I am a doctor  *  I am a manager *  I am a wife                         

But it's really when you identify with your function, to such an extent, that you lose authenticity and takes you over and becomes a role you play, that you lose sight of the fact that who you are requires no belief or validation... because you are not your job, possessions or social position.

Living Life |With Purpose
As a noted influential leader and author states, because of the labeling associated with functions and roles, you lose authenticity... so, because of this, YOU should give up defining yourself... to yourself or to others.  And, don't be so concerned with how others define you... it's really about the space you create around you... that space is your authentic self.  When others define you, they limit themselves, so it's their problem, not yours. Here are two ways to be your authentic self at all times. 
  1. When interacting with others, don't be there primarily as the function or the role you play (teacher, mom, wife, manager, etc)... just be... human being. You can only lose something that you have (role, function)... they come and go, but you cannot lose something that you are (being).
  2. Don't underestimate the value of awareness.  Awareness is your power in the present moment and to identify with any other role or function makes you unconscious (limited) in that moment.  You might give notice or attention to that role or function, but your authentic self is nowhere to be found.  Authenticity shows up when you practice the ultimate purpose of your human existence... your purpose, your power showing up in life.
We all play roles and have functions we perform all the time, many of them, but those roles are NOT us. We tend to identify with the role that we play, but when you let go of the belief that you should or need to identify with the role you lose the confusion of it all, and actually enter a state of peace and clarity that is closer to who you truly are than what you or what others could ever think... don't limit yourself.  We are all human beings…regardless of what roles we play. So don't lose yourself in a role... just be... human being.

How about you, have you ever had a moment like that and if so leave a comment and tell me how you felt at that moment and what you did to correct it, if anything.  I would love to hear from you.

I encourage you to study the works of spiritual author, Eckhart Tolle. He will open your heart and mind in the realm of consciousness and purpose.

Leadership: Before You Can Do, You Must First Be

He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. ~ Lao Tzo

You do know that learning no longer ends when you finish school or take your last exam? As a leader, you must commit to a life time of learning. And, if you consider yourself a leader, an expert, a specialist, on or off social media, then you must know that before you lead others you must lead yourself.  Many leaders never really lead as much as they say they do, but they, of course, take credit for the good... and dish out blame for the bad. 
However, sooner or later, you'll discover that leadership is more about who you are than what you do. Leadership of others begins with your internal leadership... yes, your internal leadership. You must fill up your cup before leading someone else... otherwise it'll just be the blind leading the blind. If you want to continue to grow you must continue developing yourself toward what you want to be as a human being.
Living Life|With Purpose
I'm talking about self-awareness.  Self-awareness provides you with the tools to achieve your goals in your personal life,  at work, with family and friends, in the community and with other social relationships.  Here are three tips to help you know yourself better and become the role model you need to be for those who look to you as a leader.

Dare to... Enjoy The Moment

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. Buddha

It's not unusual that our lifestyles today have us running at frenetic speeds.  For the hustle and bustle of modern life leaves many people forgetting to enjoy the moment, not understanding that each and every second is filled with wonder and possibilities... wonderful moments that could be savored, are blurred out. While we can't change the things whizzing past us, we can stop ourselves from being swept away by it all. The key... press the pause button, focus on the present... moment by moment. Living in the moment is all about living like there's no tomorrow.

  •  Pause now and be still and silent within yourself.  Enjoy this time with the words you read. You are being offered an opportunity to remember to enjoy it just as it is and just as you are... right now.
  • Give thanks for the people, places and things, for the experiences they bring... even in the little things. Dare to be thankful for making it through rush hour traffic safely, watching the sunset, places you have visited. Create opportunities to give thanks. You may know someone who never seems happy? Be ready with a smile and a kind word each time you see them. It may require patience, but eventually, they'll smile first when they see you.  You will then find that your interactions with them will be much more pleasant. And guess what... you'll have a new reason to be thankful.
  • Acknowledge a moment being offered, it amplifies the moment for everyone. Consciously connect with it and appreciate it.  Let others know when they've done something that you're thankful for. For example, let the power of the moment rejuvenate others... let your daughter that your shopping excursion with her was a pleasure or let your friend know that the email she sent to you really made your day.  Acknowledge and celebrate not only the power the moment gives you, but the one who reminded you it was there for you.

So pause, give thanks and acknowledge the moment. The beauty of enjoying the moment is in the stillness of your mind... slow down.  You can't fast forward or freeze frame moments you want to enjoy... they are all absorbing.  Dare to pause now and be still within.  Realize the beauty in every moment, and in everyday activities too. It’s a conscious act that requires your participation... not just your observation.  Remember that the reward is a richer, fuller life. This is your life, so live it now and dare to... enjoy the moment.

Click here to read more articles from my Dare to... series.

Pushing Forward and Often

“Be the change you want to see in this world.” ~ Gandhi
This is a powerful and moving quote... essentially a wake up call to take full responsibility for your life. Here Gandhi tells us, in order for us to see changes, we're the ones who have to actively change first... do not complain, criticize or theorize from the 'safe' place, because it's not only weak, but brings no growth, and personal development is all about growth.

When you think about growth and personal development, just think about beautiful flowers and how they become what they are. In order for them to grow bigger and better, sometimes the growers cut off the tops.. topping or pinching.  This has been shown to cause plants to invest more of their energy into flower growth and less into seed production... the expected result is flower buds that produces higher quality flowers.  And I believe this is true for personal growth as well... the core purpose of this article. Even if you produce satisfactory results in certain areas of your life, it can be helpful to cut them off and discard them, freeing up energy for stronger and higher quality results elsewhere in your life.  Otherwise you just find yourself settling into a comfort zone of satisfaction with the old results.

It can be difficult to cut areas of your life, because you did produce results, but if you don’t cut, then you can easily stunt your future growth.  You will be essentially causing the much needed energy to be invested in seed production around your old path. When you refuse to cut, you are basically saying things are as good as they will ever be and you settle. If that's you, fine, but if you want purposeful growth in your life, then topping is a necessary practice.

Below are some ways to drop the merely satisfactory in your life and strive for stronger, bigger and better quality personal development and growth.

  1. Don't let your life become too stagnant... mix things up now and then. Drop old routines and try something new for a while. Stop investing energy in maintaining your old routine, even if it works and you like it.  Doing this will free up more energy for exploration and growth. Go out more, have new experiences, meet new people... explore, learn, and grow.
  2. Refuse to be stuck in a rut... even in a seemingly good place. When you stay relatively still for long time, you put down seeds and as time passes, these seeds develop stronger and stronger roots, making change more difficult. The longer you stay still, the more people will relate to you based on your current position.  And, this may be familiar, but your thoughts and feelings become repetitive, circular and as time passes, little is changing in your life.
  3. Comfort zone - begone. Once you notice your life becoming a little too comfortable, you're in your comfort zone. If you like the comfort zone and wish to stay there, that’s your choice, but growth and personal development demands change, so don't get stuck there for too long.  The next time you feel your life becoming a little too comfortable... where you  just relax yourself into the satisfaction of maintaining the status quo... break free of that reality and go for more growth. Take a class, go for that promotion, travel, run for an office... grow.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone can yield a lot more growth than staying stagnant. Explore and learn each day, even the minor victories are stepping stones to growth and development. So drop the merely satisfactory by topping it off and invest that energy for a stronger, bigger and better quality of life.

The Inner Path: Activating The Soul Within

You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul. ~ Swami Vivekananda 

Looking outside of yourself for fulfillment bring only temporary happiness.  Whether it's money, losing weight, or falling in love, your happiness subsides and you begin looking for the next external element to make you happy.  Nevertheless, many people often believe something outside of themselves will make them happier. Have you ever told yourself you would be happier if you won the lottery, had a better job, lost weight, or found a new love? If so, you’re not alone.  But no more! Stop focusing on the external and take the real path to happiness... letting your soul determine what's right for you.  Here are the best alternatives to looking outside for happiness.
  1. Learn to love yourself.  Love all of you, not just the parts of you that you like, or your ego, you know, that shallow fashionista that you are... no, learn to love the real you. The soul of you that is God-like... that spiritual, emotional, nature embodied in you. Your soul is pure love... pure, unconditional love. Your soul is the part of you that is of God. God is love... unconditional love. It allows yo to be happy without a reason to be happy... you know, being blissful. So make a conscious decision to activate your pure, unconditional love from within your soul.... just love you.

Money Savvy: Money Habits, Values and You

“Too many people spend money they buy things they don't impress people that they don't like.” ~ Will Rogers

It's a true statement that you can learn a lot about yourself, not only from your relationships with people, but from your relationship with money also. Money talks, and it speaks pretty loudly to others... friends, business associates, financial obligations and family.

Your money behaviors, from how you spend it to how you choose to save it, were shaped by your past. It's often a reflection of the impact of growing up... rich, poor, middle class, or any class, had on you. It's also a reflection of your parents’ spending and saving behaviors and how they made you feel, as well. Ideas you have about what's important to you are your values.  Those values are your beliefs and they are influenced by things and by persons that have touched your life.  How you do things reflect those values. They should line up with every thing you do, on a daily basis.

The way some people spend money signals them as materialistic,  but their spending, in such a way, could be an indication of a longing for spiritual meaning and fulfillment... a place where values lie. While money can buy things, money can't buy you love, integrity, friendship or character. You can sometimes purchase a cheap imitation of these values but not the genuine ones. Line up your values with what you believe and use money to demonstrate and encourage what values are already there. Money can be used to show your love for someone or help a friend in need, but, if you really want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy.

Before you spend your money, you need to decide what's important to you.  What's important to you will help you establish your values, beliefs, priorities and goals, and will help you spend your money wisely. Your relationships will be affected by the value you place on money, so it’s worth spending a little time thinking about that. And remember, your values are influenced by your family, your church, school, community, culture, and friends.  Set your family values. If you haven't done this, then you may be surprised to learn that your spouse and children could very well have their own values.  Ask them to write down the things that are important to them and compare your lists. The goal is to improve your relationship with money and line your values up with your behavior, because a good reputation is more valuable than money. 

The Inner Path: Living Spiritually, Daily

"Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don't know it." ~ Marianne Williamson

Spirituality, for many people, is a simple yet sacred act of connecting with something greater than oneself. It's a deep sense of belonging to life and finding it meaningful on every level. It's coming into the right relationship with ourselves so that our inside matches our outside... our values and dreams show up in how we actually live our life. And when we're in the right relationship, we feel a sense of joy, peace, meaning, and being comfortable in our own skin. It feels like a type of homecoming (ever been away for a while and returned home, wow)... a kind of belonging. You get it, I know you do. So how do you put your spirituality into practice. 

Here are three quick relationship qualities embodied in a spiritual life that you can practice and directly apply to your life, daily and make a difference to your overall health and wellness.

Dare to... Kiss and Make up

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~ Mahatma Gandhi 

For some people, saying “I’m sorry” are two of the most difficult words to utter. And while we all have disagreements and arguments from time-to-time, life is too short to hold grudges. Although arguments may seem monumental at the time, they're often trivial in the grand scheme of things.  So why not take the high road... be the first to apologize.... bury the hatchet and let bygones be bygones. Kiss and make up... even if it's just you!

Don't just sit there and let your pain hang on to your heart and eat away your joy. Forgiving is a way to heal YOUR own pain.  Holding a serious grudge can possibly:
  • cause stress, which has a toxic effect on your body
  • raise your blood pressure
  • put you at risk of a stroke and heart attack
  • trigger depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, because of the guilt you carry.

The Inner Path: It's Never too Late to Start... Anything!

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”~ Eric Roth, 

Have you ever found yourself saying, "Oh no, I’m too old for that,  Not at this time of my life or That ship has sailed." It's a pity that we adopt this belief through our own perceptions of what others view as acceptable for us... that age is seen as something of a restriction. It's never too late to begin again. Every moment is an opportunity to start over. Make an attempt and gain some clarity about what it is you want from life. With age comes responsibility but it also brings with it new outlooks on life. It brings with it feelings of self-awareness and clarity that may not have been there in your earlier years.

How old would you think you are if you didn’t know and couldn’t see yourself in the mirror? Age is just a number.  What’s important is how you feel. Your dreams and desires can take many years to truly form into something that resembles your true path, and that could continue for the rest of your life, but if you let age get in your way, then you may just be allowing that process to end too early... which would be terrible.  So never become too old to dream and have the confidence to act on those dreams at any time along your journey.  The concept to live your life fully does not end when you reach a certain age. 

Actually, the human spirit is constantly in a time of growth and challenge, in whichever form this takes, at whatever age you are, so embrace that challenge, even if it is to learn how to do nothing, which is actually much harder than it sounds. If there isn't anything to aspire or look forward to in life, we end up feeling like we're going nowhere, and we stagnate.  When I  feel this way I start a new project, no matter how small or insignificant.

Don't let those limiting thoughts of age hold you back from living the truly fruitful life you deserve. Age, if anything, is on your side, because as you grow older, your goals and dreams should really, by virtue of your life experiences, be more attainable.  Many people don't realize that it takes time to learn how to own your life, nurture your goals, and realize your dreams, but fortunately you have time if you’re willing to seize it.
There is no need to go back and make a brand new start... you can start from now and make a brand new ending for yourself. Get rid of the life you've planned so you can have the life that is waiting for you. Your old skin has to be shed before the new one can come... don't hold on to your past, it's gone. If you’re determined to do something, it's never too late to start. Don’t let age stop you from going after your dreams. You are never too old and it's never too late, to set another goal or to dream a new dream or to start... anything.

Personal Development: Be Your Own Cheerleader

 “Always concentrate on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go.” ~Unknown

You have to learn to celebrate yourself. We often freely praise others for their achievements yet withhold it from ourselves. So why do we find it so hard to praise ourselves when we achieve something? Well it doesn’t seem to matter whether our accomplishments are small or sensational, giving ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done is almost impossible for many. It could be, perhaps you were trained to be modest, hopeless or you simply didn’t learn to believe in yourself. Perhaps your past achievements were simply ignored by parents, peers or mentors and you’ve simply given up on expecting accolades.
Be your own cheerleader

However, if no one else recognizes the achievements you've made and the challenges you've come through, and you're waiting for someone else to pat you on the back, stop waiting for others. Learn to toot your own horn, without being boastful or arrogant about it, of course. Self-praise is important, more important than praise from others. Others are not always dependable. But, you can always count on yourself. So today, begin your journey of self-commendation. Correct your inner critic. You have to change the language of what you have been saying about you. Praise yourself for each achievement, however insignificant you may think it is. And don't concentrate on the things left to do, celebrate what you have accomplished. Watch yourself achieving as you go about your day. And give yourself a pat on the back... you deserve it. Five, six, seven, eight, who do you appreciate!