By Danette Vernon
In 2005, I wrote a series of articles that chronicled what happened the “day after” my youngest son’s graduation. One he would never attend, since he had died nearly two years before. I walked away from that day and kept going. I moved. I went as far west from South Carolina as land could take me, stopping only at the edge of the sea. I went on an adventure to find my life’s purpose and happiness.
Many of us think, “If only I could run away and have an adventure, I’d be changed. I’d be different.” For some few, running off, running away, making huge life changes, works. They find their elusive Life’s Purpose — the Holy Grail of our times.
Others just want to be happier where they are, in their own life, like Gretchen Rubin, the author of a book, “The Happiness Project.” Gretchen spent a year trying out various maxims, singing in the morning, cleaning closets, keeping a gratitude notebook, using better manners, and finding more ways to have fun.
In doing so, she confirmed Abraham Lincoln’s words, “The more things that make you happy, the happier you’ll be.”
But for me, when I left for a summer on the shores of a California coast and the sounds of the seals in the mornings, I was looking to answer a different question, “Oh purity: Is it still possible? Is it possible still to be pure again?” A quote from “Marie Rainier Rilke and Benevento: an Intimate Correspondence.”
I didn’t find the answer, but I did develop the “habit of adventure.” I also bought Gretchen’s book, and considered as I read how I too might live a little bit happier each day. It is the daily practice that makes us who we are.
But what about the question: “Oh purity, is it still possible?” It was the wrong question. It was, simply put, the hook that I hung my own lack of self-acceptance on. In the past, I perceived all of my errors as “stains” on the “white garment” of my possible goodness, rather than just the stuff that is a part of being a human being.
So what happened next?
I could say that I worked through all of my problems, issues and dysfunctions, but really, as noted by philosopher Wayne Dyer, I simply “outgrew” them instead.
How do you outgrow “old solutions” — the ones that ain’t working — to your life’s problems? A recap:
1. Kevin Trudeau, noted expert on transformation, outlines his steps for change: 1. Find out who has successfully gone before you, and read about them, Online, in books; comment on their blogs, make friends with them, talk to them if possible, i.e. look for mentors, dead or alive. 2. Assess your willingness to learn, to change. 3. When considering any goal — doing the first thing in front of you is always the next step.
2. Philosopher Wayne Dyer, says, “Stop The Intellectual Violence” in your head. “STOP” the endless negative chatter in your head about yourself and others.
Here’s the secret: When you begin to forgive yourself, and therefore treat yourself, and your own frailties and flaws, with tenderness, you’ll stop criticizing, judging, and controlling others towards some unattainable summit of perfection .How you treat others is a reflection of how you treat yourself.
3. Life will change for you when you start to believe that all that befalls you is for your greater good. All events are neutral, only you give them meaning. So rewrite your life’s story. All great stories have pivotal moments, conflicts, which make the characters, grow, that gives them the impetus to make it to the end of the story, wherein they are found to be the hero, or the heroine. What are your life’s pivotal moments, dire conflicts, and how can they, or how did they, give your life direction, or make you grow?
4. Want to find your life’s purpose, what might drive you, finally, to get off of your butt and “do something”? Dan Pink, best-selling author and career market analysis, encourages you to look for what will inspire, in what consumes you “when no one is looking”. Do you tinker, garden, bake, paint, work out? What do you actually LIKE to do?
5. Shawn Achor, Harvard graduate and researcher, has spread a message across 45 countries to date. He found out, through extensive investigation, that if you want to be happy, then every morning, when you first open your email, take a moment and write a quick note of praise or gratitude to someone. In other words, practice “deliberate kindness”. At the end of the day, one, record three NEW things to be grateful for, and two, journal on a positive experience you had during the day.
6. Finally, and most importantly, have friends who operate above you, friends who are wiser, more experienced, and more kind and gentle then you can ever imagine being; people who are open, intimate, and non-judgmental. That’s what I have, and it has been my saving grace.
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