As cliche as this question is, it also brings up some very important questions that we each should answer for ourselves, like:
What do I stand for?
What do I want to spend my life doing?
How do I want to treat others?
What do I want to be known for?
How do I know what is right and wrong for me?
Do I believe in something bigger than myself? What is it?
Does life have to have a meaning?
Regardless of if you are religious, agnostic, or atheistic, it is up to you to answer these questions for yourself. It may seem like a tall order, but it also is one of the best adventures around.
Welcome to Part 4 of my Personal Maintenance series: Spiritual Maintenance.
“Maintenance" may be the wrong word here, because for many of us, answering these questions is a lifelong journey, and not something that we figure out and then just maintain.
So today, I want to give you a few tools to start to play with what is the meaning of your life.
1. Create your Personal Manifesto This is a statement of who you want to be in the world. It contains a combination of character traits that you already have, and ones that you are cultivating. Here is an example excerpt of one:
I create works of brilliance.
I am a ray of energy that can move mountains.
The people I love know I am there for them, no matter what.
I have strong gut feelings that guide me.
I make order out of chaos.
I see the joy in situations, and it is infectious.
I am the voice of reason to people in need.
What would you put in your personal manifesto? Take a stab at it!
2. Check in with your Personal Manifesto daily Read your manifesto each morning. You can pick one sentence that you want to “work” on that day, and then pay special attention to it. For example, are you being a ray of energy that can move mountains? How could you step it up? Where did you do a great job of it? Just keeping the idea in mind will actually go most of the way to your living it.
3. Meditate As impatient or annoying as it can feel sometimes to sit still and do nothing, I have found nothing else that centers me and clears my mind of clutter better than meditation. Even 10 minutes per day goes a long way. I highly recommend getting a great meditation app for your phone that can help walk you through the process.
4. Do one thing per day that makes your heart sing You know what it feels like when your heart sings: you feel giddy and alive. Whether it’s playing a sport you love, having a conversation with a dear friend, or knitting a few rows of the sweater you are making for your niece, make sure that you connect with the things that are uniquely special to you.
5. Do one act per day of service I have yet to find a person whose "meaning of life" did not include being great to other people. It is easy to get wrapped up in our own feelings and needs, and yet those don’t always leave us feeling fulfilled or connected with something bigger. Being of service to others usually does (so long as you don’t take it to a martyred extreme). You don’t necessarily need to volunteer at your location homeless shelter to be of service: there are likely many people in your average day who you can serve.
6. Keep a gratitude list I can’t stress this one enough. I have seen clients completely transform from bitter to joyful with just the addition of a nightly gratitude list. Part of being deeply connected to and in love with the world around you involves celebrating it. It’s so much easier to think from a higher plane when you are convinced that the world is a good, generous place.
There are many other ways to hone your spiritual compass, but this is a good start to what is probably the most rich and meaningful journey of your life.
Which one will you take on this week? Write me a note and share.