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“Youth is not measured in age; it’s measured in functionality.”

I recently heard the above quote (which I believe was made by Michael B. Beckwith, though I’m not certain of that). It resonated deeply. My mother sounded young for most of her life and seemed to love adventure of one sort or another, whereas my dad always seemed old…

Years ago, a very wise man I know suggested that I forget about birthdays. Now that might be a radical thought to some. Yet I continue to find it rather refreshing.

So, you might ask, why is Eve talking about “aging”?!

The past 18 months has been challenging for many folks, with some having too much or too little work, experiences of financial abundance or stress, family issues, isolation, masking, debates about COVID and vaccinations, loss of friends and loved ones … and the list goes on….

There is so much information coming at us 24/7 that it can be exhausting to process it all.

How are you feeling?

I’ve noticed that some folks are not feeling enthusiastic about life and I’m hearing people say they’re feeling disconnected and a little worn-out. While many areas have opened up, some of us have been in lockdown for so long it may take some folks time to reacclimatize. It reminds me a little of “Pavlov’s dog” – the last 16-18 months have programmed us in ways we may not yet fully know or realize.

I’m certainly grateful to have the awareness and tools to navigate the pandemic in a somewhat positive and productive way. That isn’t to say it’s all been a bed of roses. Or perhaps it has, but I’ve certainly had to deal with my share of thorns. Yet I have learned and am mastering tools and ways to process and move through challenges with greater equanimity. I may experience issues yet it’s rare now that they “have me” for very long.

A few months ago, I noticed I was starting to feel a little burned out, somewhat bored and tired. A “same old, same old” vibe was creeping into my life, reminding me of the movie “Groundhog Day”. I decided to take some down time and get outside a little more. We were still under full lockdown at the time (it had already been going on for 9+ months) so I wasn’t sure what the options would be.

Not long after, things started to open up a little here and I saw a window of opportunity to get out into the wilderness. Now that may be the farthest from your idea of fun, yet I adore wilderness canoeing, and particularly whitewater canoeing. I find that being in nature, beyond all cell phone range and “civilization”, is rejuvenating.

My love for this started when I was at University, as a volunteer staff member for a summer canoe camp many moons ago. This past May there was a virtual reunion for staff from that camp and it rekindled my desire to be outdoors once again. It’s been a few years since I was on a whitewater canoe trip, yet one thing the pandemic has taught me is “carpe diem” or seize the day. In other words, when there’s an opening and opportunity, go for it! 

I’m happy to say I did seize the opportunity and recently returned from 10 days out in the wilderness on a whitewater canoe trip in Northern Ontario. It was TERRIFIC!!! I feel rejuvenated and very happy at the moment. The weather was perfect for canoeing, I saw stars I haven’t seen in years, and there were otters, eagles, moose, wolves… and of course loons and lots of ducks 🙂 along the way.

When I returned, I reached out to my cousin to chat. After a bit and what seemed like out of the blue, she started talking about mental health and the number of people currently on anti-depressants. It took me a few moments to realize that she was asking, in a round-about way, if I was on meds. My tone and conversation were so happy and uplifting she had wondered if my state was artificially induced! I told her “no”, and she said it was great to know it was “naturally induced”. 

Wow!

Initially, I was amused yet it started me thinking… 

First, I’m very grateful to have answered the internal nudge and said yes to the inspiration for getting out and having some fun in nature. More of that is clearly required on my end for balance.

Yet the reaction of my cousin was also telling. In the last 18 months, people have become conditioned to higher levels of fear and other challenges. Some have turned inwards, and are tuning in more. However, many are living in a state of ongoing stress and overwhelm that has been normalized to the point they are no longer conscious of it.

Now I know on Facebook and other social media people all look like they’re having fun. And, of course, some are. Yet from what I hear many are putting on a smile and doing things to put on a brave face. Underneath they’re feeling alone, somewhat ungrounded, flat, and wonder about the meaning and purpose of it all. In fact, by posting all that fun, when people aren’t truly feeling it, they are telling me they are starting to feel like frauds and wondering what’s wrong with them. They think much of what’s on social media is real, and are starting more and more to ask: why am I here and what’s the point of all this?

Our natural state as human beings is to be happy. There’s a lot going on here that disrupts that, however. When people wonder if a person is on anti-depressants because they are happy – well, that signals to me that something has gone and perhaps is continuing to go in the wrong direction here.

So let me ask you something… Are you feeling joy bubble up inside of you from time to time? Or does that sound a little foreign at this point?

From what I’ve seen overall, it is foreign, yet I also hear that people do want to feel lighter and happier. And that is also normal. Unless we have completely shut down, there will be something inside us that will continue to look for answers.

I was recently asked to present a workshop in September for a group of Canadian lawyers and judges on the topic of “purpose”. Now a year ago, the topic might have been work-life balance for that demographic. Certainly I would never have been asked to speak about purpose and meaning! The co-chair of the association had canvassed the members and found that they currently aren’t very interested in substantive topics or learning to do their work better. Instead, they want to feel more alive and connected within themselves and to those they love.

Does that resonate with you, too?

Human beings are creative and love to explore, by nature. While we may differ in interests and the way we engage, in our natural state we are happy and expansive. Just look at small children playing, and the wonder they express (if permitted).

We are creating or generating results at all times – we don’t get a choice as to whether we are going to create or not. The choice we do have, however, is whether we are going to create a life consciously (or what I call by design) or whether we are going to generate results unconsciously – living day to day and reacting to whatever comes our way. Most people never learned the process to create results that they love, and as a result many folks are living day to day, reacting to circumstances, situations and conditions that come their way, seeking approval from the outside, and following the path that they seem to be on… They have lots of reasons, instead. Oh, its this or that… And with every reason, a little joy is dampened.

Like Pavlov’s Dog, our experiences condition or program us and we end up thinking and taking action based on those patterns of behavior and thought. While some of the patterns are supportive (like brushing your teeth on a regular basis), and others are not (blaming others or circumstances for what is going on). 

I’ve talked about this on a number of occasions, so won’t further repeat myself here, other to say that while the conditioning or programming may support our doing our jobs, and the role we play in society, it may not feed our souls. At some point, we will start to feel worn out and “old”. 

Would you love to rekindle the joy of life?

If so, you have to make a decision to make a few changes which is sometimes easier said than done. The same wise man I referred to above, named Mikhail, also said at one point that “people want change, but they don’t want to change”. You can’t have it both ways.

So, what would some simple ways to rekindle the fire in your life look like?

Having just been out in the wilderness and cooking around fires, I’m reminded of the following:

–       If kindling or firewood is damp, it’s more difficult to light the fire. More effort is required. So, if you’re feeling depressed or down, or your state of energy is dampened, it will take more energy and focus to move to a new state than if you are ready to be fired up. Be gentle with yourself. There is nothing “wrong” with you – just know that it might just take a little more focus or time to get there. Keep going. Take baby steps.

Its the same with boiling water. If you put cold water to boil, it takes a lot of energy initially to start the process. The phase change (water to steam) only comes at a certain point, and energy has to be continually applied until that phase change is reached. Once the water boils to steam, it has great power.

To rekindle your spirit and the joy in some area of your life, it may take regular and repeated action. Unfortunately, many people give up before the phase change or they experience results. They say: it’s not working, I’m not good enough, not talented enough, not worthy enough, somehow flawed or to succeed would mean I’d have to outshine someone… Those are called “upper limit” problems by Gay Hendricks (author). We stop before our success because of limiting beliefs about ourselves that we may not even know are operating.

To make the phase change or have the shifts be sustainable will require a change in in your usual thought patterns. This is not difficult if you have support, however often a challenge without – we don’t have perspective and can’t see the picture when we are the one in the frame. Many people think they can do it on their own. Though, as Uncle Phil (the TV doc) used to say (and still may) “how’s that working for you?”. 

You have to want the change – the joy or whatever on a permanent basis – or at least more permanent basis. You have to want a new setpoint for yourself and be intolerant of the same old same old.

We’ve been taught that it’s impossible to be happy all the time. Well, I’m here to tell you that is a false belief, though like any belief we will live into it if we own it. If you fight for or defend your limitations, you get to keep them

We may look “solid” and our patterns of thought and behavior may seem fixed. Yet at a fundamental level (physics) human beings are pure energy. We say that we “see” yet our eyes merely process images based on frequencies of light. In many ways our bodies are miraculous, and we take a lot of this for granted. Yet if you consider the possibility that we are energy beings (which includes our thoughts) and there is always a way to transform energy, regardless of how stuck or fixed they may seem there is always a way to heal or make the shift. There is, however, a factor of willingness.

Are you willing?

–       To start a great campfire, you start with small kindling and progressively move onto the bigger logs. If you put big logs on too soon the fire will die down. In other words, too much wood that is dense will cause the campfire to die down. It takes more effort at that point to fan flames etc. to get it going. 

We currently have a tremendous amount of information coming at us from all angles – media and social media included. It can be overwhelming. Our brains are only able to process a certain amount of information or resource at a time and after that will go into overload or shut down. 

If you want to rekindle your joy, consider limiting the amount of time you spend on media (news, radio, tv, online etc.) and social media. Give yourself a certain amount of time to update if required. Yet also be aware that any attachment to hearing the latest “news” can be like an addictive drug, and you may find that weaning yourself off is initially challenging. I certainly did. Yet I’ve found that the more I limit my media consumption, the happier I feel.

–       Silence is golden. Out in the wilderness, silence is rare as it is in cities and towns. Yet, one night as I was in my tent, I naturally started to listen deeply. There were all sorts of sounds initially – from birds, to bugs, to forest creatures… yet, at a certain moment that seemed to go on for a spell, I heard pure silence. It was as if the sounds all stopped and I experienced the expanse and rhythm of the Universe.

Regardless of what is going on in our daily lives, if we choose, we can find moments to connect with the nature around us. Whether it’s looking at the clouds in the sky, appreciating a tree, tuning into the laughter of a child and allowing it to uplift you, having a bath or singing in the shower, playing with a pet, or listening to the pat, pat, pat of the rain as it falls on your roof….

When we commit to reconnecting with nature on a daily basis, we are also committing to reconnect with our true nature – who we truly are. We can then start to hear more of our own internal communication – messages from our hearts.

Nature isn’t just out there somewhere – it is also what we are. We are as much nature as the trees, flowers, animals and other living creatures and by spending a little time acknowledging nature, we can choose to attune to that, and be uplifted as a result.

Now, to bring this to a close, this month consider what “youth” means to you and whether you feel like you’ve been aging or atrophying in some way over the last number of months.

It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s possible to re-generate and experience greater life no matter your age or stage in life. You may just require some new tools and support.

So, if you’d love to experience more exuberance, joy and “functionality” 😊 in your daily life, more purpose and meaning… this is your time, your moment to seize!

Click here.

You’ll delve into what lights you up, and have the opportunity to discover more of who you truly are.

Blessings for a happy and joyful August!

Eve

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