I want to let you in on a really important ingredient for creating authentic happiness – the kind that stands the test of time and is more resilient to the hard stuff that comes our way.
We often feel that it’s justifiable to feel like something is missing in our lives when we have some heavy shit going on. For me right now, it’s marriage struggles (marriage is hard, yo!) and my mom’s recent death. For my friends and clients, it’s things like feeling they’ve missed out on truly being themselves for decades and grieving that loss; struggling with loneliness and wanting a life partner; miscarriages; loss of identity…it goes on and on. It’s the shit that comes with being alive and human. The “truth of the existence of suffering” that Buddha reminded us all of millennia ago. It makes total sense that we feel like something is missing during those times.
Thing is, we also tend to feel like something is missing even when life DOES seem like its going really well! For example, here are a few scenarios that coaching can help a lot with:
• you have a bitchy inner critic that tells you you aren’t worthy of a better life
• you have a tendency to make bad choices relationship after relationship
• you are a perpetual perfectionist and can’t seem to start, finish, or let go of anything because of your need to have it be flawless
• you keep searching for a life with more meaning and purpose…and still haven’t found it
• you struggle with creating healthy boundaries and saying “No” to people, trapped in a never-ending cycle of people-pleasing and lack of self care.
• you feel trapped and stuck
• you wallow in a scarcity mindset, blocking abundance from entering your life
• you feel a lack of self love and self-worth
• you wonder why you don’t feel confident or courageous enough to do what it takes
While coaching is great for these scenarios, what a lot of people don’t talk about is that once you achieve a lot of your goals – the freedom, the location-independent lifestyle, the abundance, the awesome relationship, the killer career, the confidence – we still tend feel that something is missing.
And let me tell you – that moment sucks. Royally.
Here you are, having done the spiritual work, the intellectual work, the creative work, the courageous work – a LOT of freakin’ work – and it all seems perfect, yet something is Still. Freakin’. Missing.
So what is this missing thing? It’s not as sexy as you might think, but it’s damn important, and I’ve seen it over and over. It helps when we are in some deep dark times of life, and it helps when we have that nagging feeling of being incomplete even when life seems amazing.
It’s not gratitude, although that is still a daily practice I do every morning.
It’s … (drum roll!) … being of service to others. Or better yet – feeling we are of service to others. Or even better yet…a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives (which tends to be connected with service to others).
Truth is, we are born to serve in a powerful way.
You can do all the gratitude journaling you want, but if you don’t feel a sense of purpose or meaning in life, if you aren’t clear about how your unique self is undeniably needed in the world and how you fit into it all, it won’t help you with this feeling that something is missing.
We are meant to use all the skills we learned up until this glorious moment and use them to (no pressure here;) change the world. From what I have seen, we humans cannot seem to be able to feel totally fulfilled in life if we are not deeply serving in some way.
In order to serve powerfully, we must muster the deepest type of courage yet. This is courage deeper than what is required to ask for a raise, or to start our own business, or to leave the toxic relationship.
Don’t get me wrong – they are related, and the first kind of courage is requisite to getting to the next level of bravery.
But what is required of you to truly feel like your life is enough is the courage to be of deep, devoted service to something greater than yourself.
So, in order to be able to feel maximally fulfilled, I highly recommend you set to work on making the world a better place.
When I look back on my life, it is not the peaks I have climbed, the adventures I have been on, or the financial milestones that help me feel that today would be a good day to die – although I will be the first to admit that they certainly help me feel better about that day.
Rather, it is the times that I have made other people’s lives better that help me sleep at night and live more courageously. The times I spent in Africa working with refugees on the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC. The times I forgave people that deeply hurt me. The times I risked disappointing others and being criticized in order to bring a bigger message to the world through my coaching. The times I delivered babies in a public hospital for Haitian women, or sat with a mother holding her stillborn and allowed myself to cry with her in sisterhood.
I am sure that you too can recall the moments you have touched someone’s heart with your actions, and how grounded and complete you felt.
Because you have been there, you know that this goal of ultimate fulfillment is not for the faint of heart.
It takes a lot of courage to serve others fully. To allow ourselves to feel the pain and suffering of others and to take action to stop it. To be so vulnerable with strangers that it scares the shit out of you.
On top of that, you also have to know what the world truly needs in order to best bring your gifts to the world in acts of service. And learning what the world needs can be terrifying, scary, and overwhelming.
But you can do it. You MUST do it.
You were born to do it.
I have clients break down in tears when they realize this, and it’s understandable, because the responsibility can feel overwhelming. But trust me – you don’t need to do anything more than discover your gifts and live them fully. This is truly of service to the world.
You do not need to head into war zones or depraved conditions (unless that’s a part of your gift), but you do need to discover and be honest with yourself about what you are good at, and how it can help make the world a better place than when you arrived.
Living your true gift involves some form of deep service pr contribution to others – even if that may not be obvious to you at this moment.
It’s scary, but you can find the ziji, the courage, the confidence to do it.
How do we get this kind of courage so we can explore our true purpose? In my experience, this deeply driven courage is created by an emotion that deserves much more bandwidth than topics like the courage or the confidence to manifest your dreams (even though that’s what I totally dig writing about):
It’s Compassion – for yourself and for others.
Compassion is the most courageous emotion we can carry, and the brave acts it allows us to undertake is why it is the emotion that helps our life feel like one well-lived.
As Pema Chödrön, a Tibetan Buddhist nun, said:
“The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with. To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes. ”
There you have it.
If you want to live a truly courageous and deeply fulfilling life, open your heart.
First to yourself. This gives us the courage to go beyond our own needs.
Then open your heart to others, and look deeply into their eyes.
Feel the pain, the suffering, the injustices.
Do the work. Learn what you need to. Spend time alone. Spend time with people who really matter.
Fiercely quest for your purpose.
Let any ideas of your previous self die away, so that you may truly be open to the gift that only you are able to deliver – one you may have no freakin’ idea about yet. Or one you know about, but that really, really scares you to think about embodying.
You are enough, and the best way to see that – and indeed, the best way to feel that – is to discover that gift and how to best bring it to the world in service.
What does that look like for you? Is it volunteering with a local organization or abroad? Changing the focus of your biz? Leaving your job to raise your kiddos on a sailboat? Opening up a community gathering place? Helping people feel beautiful when they feel absolutely devastated inside? Giving people hope when they have lost their mojo?
Share with me on the blog or hit reply on this email to tell me about your gifts, or what has helped you sleep better at night, the ways you love to serve, the ways you dream to serve. I love this kind of stuff – and trust me, I’ll reply.