On Finding Your True Self

On Finding Your True Self

Finding Yourself is Necessary

Finding your true self is a quest. Although this is not a groundbreaking or novel concept, when you embark on the path of personal growth, finding yourself becomes offensively necessary. In my previous blog post Planning & Productivity for Personal Growth, I talk about how I see productivity only through the lens of my personal development. 

Based on my personal experience, productivity is nothing if there isn’t a purpose connected to the act of being productive. Chasing productivity to achieve more in less time is not a purpose in and of itself because it doesn’t guarantee you will find yourself. Productivity is not something you consume. It is a way of being that leads you to where you aspire to be. Becoming productive isn’t going to help your personal growth if you focus on the things, people, and aspects of your life that are not in alignment with who you are. In other words, you can be productive and still head in the opposite direction of where you actually envision yourself going. 

Productivity becomes everything when it’s closely tied to your personal growth. 

Your Flow Signature

I started getting interested in productivity because I was looking for more personal fulfillment. I was looking for more meaning, getting more pleasure out of my day, and deeper relationships with people. In essence, I was looking for a deeper internal relationship with myself. My purpose was not to do more in less time. It was to focus on what I align well with so I can add meaning to my relationship with myself and others. As a result, I envisioned experiencing simple fulfillment throughout the day.

That is what productivity becomes when you find your true self – experiencing fulfillment as you flow from one activity to another throughout the day. That’s it! At least that’s what productivity means to me. Not just getting shit done but getting it done with a flow that carries my signature.

Finding your true self is a conscious, intentional act. This act needs consistency and it is constant. Once you find your base, establish your foundation, you don’t stop. You pay very close attention as you build on that foundation. It’s a way of being that is not for everyone, but anyone can do it! Don’t expect it to be easy, but understand that it is very simple.  

Do You Know Who You Are?

Some think finding yourself is for the wanderers in this world, for the soft at heart, for the meek. Because why would you need to find yourself? You already know who you are! But let me tell you, decisiveness, loud presence, go-getter attitude and I got it all figured out mentality says nothing about knowing who you are. I should know! It does say a lot about who you are in front of the world, but do you know who you are? 

Who are you? How did you find yourself? How do you “find” yourself?

Most of the time finding your true self is not a conscious activity until you make the decision to make it so. As a not conscious activity (not to be confused with the unconscious), finding your true self may or may not lead to the things you align with. You may identify with a lot of the stuff in your life and you may feel strongly about it, but it may not be who you are, internally. And while you believe you know who you are because you are “set” in your way of life, you may still be the very wonderer you occasionally like to mock. This is why who you are for the world doesn’t always translate to knowing who you are, truly. 

Keep in mind: once you make the decision to truly find yourself, there will be times when you will feel like you know exactly who you are. There will also be times when you will feel like you have no idea who you are. That’s part of the quest.

My Case

My quest to finding my true self has been bumpy at times, it has taken many turns, and many times it has been a circle race. All of it has been interesting, to say the least, but it has also been necessary on my personal quest as separate from anyone else’s. Everyone’s quest is different. And what I come to share here may not be at all what you agree with. However, I hope it will still enrich your perspective and the outcomes of your own quest. Or maybe you prefer a journey? 🙂

For much of my young adult life, I have felt like I needed something else. Something deeper. A meaning, a purpose to everything I did. It was very important to me to have a reason for doing something and a deep connection to what I am doing. 

Unaddressed, this kind of longing led me to much confusion around what I wanted to do in life. This confusion transferred to an endless search for my perfect vocation.

Later on, I stumbled upon personal growth and the land of self-help literature. It’s something that piqued my interest and captured it indefinitely. My experience with self-help literature has been one long on-again and off-again relationship. But based on my experience so far, this kind of relationship is probably the best way to apply the wisdom this type of literature offers. Be careful though. There is a wrong way of doing it. I should know! …Let me explain.

The Polar Opposites

When I first dove into the topic of personal growth, I was all in. So much so that I started chasing the next big book on this topic hoping I would find yet another insight to lead me closer to finding myself.  I did this so much so that I came to a point where all the books I read started sounding the same. All the authors started sounding like they were selling the same message using different words. And all the insight I was so desperately looking for was not to be found beyond the next best-selling book title out there.

My quest for finding myself started turning into frustration. That frustration led me to the opposite extreme – away from my quest – as I decided to simply quit reading personal growth books. And I did. I stopped searching for my purpose and let purpose come to me.

The problem with this was that by coming to a complete stop on my quest, I also stopped actively doing anything about getting closer to my purpose. So I was in some kind of a twilight zone of being stuck. At first, I didn’t even recognize this because I was blinded by self-inflicted frustration. I went from trying to absorb as much as I possibly could on personal growth and use it to “fix” myself, to trying to forget it all.

Coming To My Senses

The big gap I created that I am personally responsible for is not applying aspects of what I have learned. In other words, because I didn’t find the one “fixer” for it all I didn’t give a lot of what I learned a chance to experiment and play with. So I was stuck for a long time. I had the knowledge but lacked practicing that knowledge because I was looking at my quest to finding myself as an all-or-nothing thing.

Years later I reopened this chapter of my life. I dusted off the thick layers of dust that have accumulated over the years and I gave personal growth the chance it deserved. But this time I decided not to rush through the material (the mad scientist style). This time I approached my quest to find my true self in a brand new way! A way that was not doomed to fail, rather destined to succeed! I began consuming personal growth in small, iterative batches. I began experimenting with productivity based on what I needed on the day-to-day, week-to-week.

Doing this shed off layers of doubt, confusion, preconceived notions, personal expectations, social expectations, stress, fear, and everything in-between. In turn, I gained perspective, clarity, depth, direction, and the very meaning I was so adamantly searching for! I gained the ability to experience fulfillment – experience life in a whole new way! It all led to something even more amazing. Not only did I find myself – I found gratitude!

My Child – My Teacher

My Child – My Teacher

In Search for a Perspective 

Today’s world is filled with information. There is so much information circling around everywhere we turn. We are inundated not just with information, but also on information of information — also known as individual or group perspective — we have already consumed. As a matter of fact, people build entire businesses charging for their perspective on readily available free information. Everywhere you turn you can find at your fingertips the answers to any question you have; Someone has shared their perspective on it in some shape or form! 

Yet we continue to grow less and less content, less and less satisfied, less and less smart. Why is that? We go off and we accumulate knowledge through official education standards out of curiosity, out of a need to reach a certain status in life, out of fear we’ll be left behind; Whatever the reason. In addition, we are hooked to a never ending river of How To videos, books, podcasts. All these resources we can use to learn how to do, act, be, stand, talk, think, express, etc. Yet, we continue to wonder why even after all this information we have absorbed from multiple mediums, we continue to feel as lost as ever.

Gaining New Perspective or Filling a Void?

I can not tell you how many times I have found myself in the fast lane of productivity, for instance. I have been consuming this material for years. It seems like the more I dive in, the less knowledgeable I seem to feel and the more there seems to be to learn. It’s a pretty vicious circle and once you are in it it’s hard to break free. It’s hard because it all makes sense. I absorb the information and for the most part I agree with most of it. I set out to try things for yourself and then I keep finding more and more things I must explore. 

It’s like vortex that takes you in and you have no choice but to give in.

If this is you, stop! Pause, sit down; Take a deep breath and ask yourself: Why do I know what I know? Why do I need to know this? Am I using this? Is it improving to my life right now?

There is a difference between gaining a new perspective and filling a void. It’s the difference between consuming information to enrich your life, move forward in your career, become a better parent, or significant other, and consuming information out of fear you may fall behind, be seen as not smart enough or important enough. The first centers you, the latter destroys you. And whether you are willing to admit this to yourself or not, you do know the answer!

Dust It All Off and Go to the Source

In the last five years of my life, I have learned to limit the information I consume at any given time. For example, if I am reading a book I make sure 1) I am addressing a specific aspect in my life by reading it, 2) I study the book. How is this book adding to my life aside from me just reading it so I can say I’m a reader? How is it enriching my life?

There was a time in my life when I would read a book and once done, put it aside. I would feel accomplished. Like I was 300+ pages smarter, more knowledgable, more resourceful. And yes, that absolutely stands true. I am not insinuating here you stop reading books! Not at all! But what I am addressing is the element of how much information consumption on the topic of personal development is too much? 

For me it all started with me reading the book and it ended with me having read the book. I didn’t really apply what I had learned in my daily life in order to make reading the book serve a purpose. No. The reading was the purpose. 

But after a while the whole pointless reading started to get to me. I needed more. So at some point I decided to put the brakes on all of it and simply pause. This pause happened right around the time I got pregnant after a long journey through infertility. 

It’s when I realized what I needed was not a book after a book after a book to teach me how to be productive, how to be happy, how to be this or that. I simply needed to connect with what I already knew, what I already have learned as a child, as teenager, as an adult. And after all the information on personal development I have consumed over the years, I still had zero clue how to go about connecting with it all… Search for more books on how to consume what I have consumed? 😉

Meet Your Teacher

The idea behind letting our children teach us simply borne out of an observation I had while playing with my child, while parenting my child, while being in my child’s presence. My child has taught me patience, accountability, responsibility, structure, time-blocking and everything in between. 

How? By simply existing in my life. Or maybe me existing in her life… Because as she came into this world she brought an uninterrupted, untamed, imaginary orbit around her being, and she is in the center of that orbit. That’s how we all come to this world. In that orbit I am external arbitrator invading it. And as she grows older there will be multiple arbitrators invading her orbit pulling and pushing her of her center. 

As parents we are the first and most persisting arbitrators of our children’s’ orbits. But what if we changed that? What if we put aside all the information we have consumed that has made us feel like we know better than our children and succumb to the purity and wisdom of their existence by helping them strengthen and grow their invisible orbit instead of crushing it so we can “show them better” because they are just children and they don’t know better. 

I assure you, they know so much better! If we only pause, swallow our pride, get pass our ego and let them guide us.

Everything we do, the way we are, who we are comes down to the sum of all things we are to our children. They see us. They can read us better than we can read them. And if we listen, they can teach us lessons we have forgotten, lessons we never learned, lessons that help us. And the best part is: all they ask for is a little bit of space and uninterrupted moments of our time away from the “important” stuff we need to get to. 

Where Does Happiness Come From?

Where Does Happiness Come From?

How We Label Happiness

I bought a new ho use. I’m happy. I purchased my new favorite bag. I’m happy. I won the running competition. I’m happy. I got a raise. I’m happy. Someone complemented me. I’m happy. Most likely you have found yourself in this cause and effect spiral countless times in your life. We all have. It’s a completely normal and usual way of being. We have been conditioned to think this way. We have also been conditioned to explain this concept to ourselves and even justify its flawed existence. Why? Because it provides an answer to the question: where does happiness come from?

Every time we think or say the phrase that starts with “when I” and ends with “then I will” we are justifying and supporting this air grabbing dilution that happiness is within reach and we are about to grab it! This way of thinking and being is not good or bad. It’s not right or wrong. And it’s definitely not an all or nothing thing, which is why defining the ultimate state of happiness is a task none of us is quite able to fathom. 

But before we talk about where happiness comes from, let’s look at how we justify unhappiness.

How We Justify Unhappiness

Although its status is always “within reach” and never quite “reached” or it is reached but its effect is temporary, we write it off as fine because we rest in the notion that it is close enough. So we come to settle in the neither here nor there zone of following happiness but never walking alongside it. Based on the things we feel will make us happy we know what we need to do; We want to do what we need to do to get to our happiness but we are prevented by a higher, stronger force that is life.

Life happens to us. And when life happens we concur with whatever life tells us. In all honesty, how can we go against something so large as life, something so broad and strong yet so undefined as life? We decide the answer is: we can’t. So when life takes over in a way that does not line-up with our expectations and our beliefs and our mindset and our knowing, we grab on the thinnest, smallest thread called justification and we start justifying why things are the way they are.

We begin justifying why we are not happy, fulfilled, rich, beautiful, famous, right. We begin resenting our state of being so much so that we jump into the next level of genius and that is justifying other people’s success with life, in life, and equating that to their happiness and fulfillment. But the biggest flaw in this self inflicted vortex is our core belief that life was dealt to us. We were put in this life and we zone through it.

Turning it around

Yes, life may have been dealt to us. But as in any game it’s up to the player to shape and work the game, to find ways to stay in the game longer. So life is part the hand we were dealt and part the way we play. And those who find joy in playing the game are those we come to refer to as happy. For these individuals, happiness doesn’t come from being ahead and potentially winning the game –  winning the game comes as a result of their joy in playing the game. To them, happiness is playing the game.

I used to think happiness was something I would have in my life once I acquired the things I wanted and once I became who I wanted to become. I spent years in this dilution. And the more time I spent designing what I want and how I want it the more backwards things were going. Eventually I decided I was either doomed or I didn’t know how to play the game – I didn’t know how to play the game.

These days I know better! I know happiness comes from gratitude. This is the closest I’ve gotten to defining happiness – at least for myself, but feel free to adopt the concept. 

Actually happy

Gratitude helps open your heart to something warm, loving, gentle. And that is pretty darn much. Because when you know warmth, love, joy how can you be unhappy? Happiness isn’t a place to reach – you are already there; and it’s not a thing to achieve – you already have it. Happiness is a truth you open yourself to hearing. You own it. Open yourself to knowing you own happiness. It may not be the happiness you think the next person experiences, but it can’t be because it’s your happiness.

It’s almost like the ray of love and sunshine I talk about in the post on Gratitude. Happiness is something you breathe in. Open your heart, take a deep breath and consume happiness. The more you experience, the more you love, the more you enjoy the things you do on regular basis and express gratitude for being able to do them, the more happiness will find you and reward you.

The reward?

Not just temporarily feeling happy, not just knowing of happiness, but truly understanding it and becoming one with it. Appreciating it even during times you feel separated from it!

The Case for the Power of Gratitude

The Case for the Power of Gratitude

The implied power of gratitude

Among the first few words of advice we hear regarding the power of gratitude is to develop some form of a habit that accounts for gratitude. There are many examples of what you could do to develop this habit, how to go about doing it, and even why the power of gratitude can change our outlook on life in general; Potentially improve our personal circumstances. This is all very good and it does make a lot of sense.

However, pass the research references and statistics offered on the power of gratitude, and all the reasons why we should develop a habit of expressing gratitude daily, gratitude is not something I look at as a checklist point. A dot on a page of my planner to be marked complete because research suggests it will enrich my life and make things move in the direction I desire — whatever that direction may be.

I have great appreciation for all the instructional advice on gratitude out there. And although I am completely on board with what the research suggests, I do believe gratitude is more than a habit we start. A habit based on an implied resonance that expressing gratitude will lead to the type of success and personal betterment we are looking for.

The actual power of gratitude

Gratitude doesn’t work like a task. The power of gratitude is much deeper. And to work, it needs to be felt on a very deep level. Otherwise, it becomes a fun exercise for a while, until we fall off the wagon… Just because I say or write down that I’m grateful for my cup of coffee today doesn’t really “activate” the power of gratitude. It’s not about saying or writing down I am grateful for something and then move on to the next thing on my check list. This is part of the reason some people start a “gratitude habit”, track it for a while in their planner or Bullet Journal then notice at the and of the tracking period they weren’t consistent.

When we treat gratitude as a task to be tracked we are not experiencing gratitude; We’re simply executing a task. Gratitude is not a task on my todo list. Gratitude is a lifestyle, a mindset. You don’t execute gratitude because you can’t execute feelings.

So, instead of giving you instructions on how you should go about introducing gratitude in your own life, I would like to invite you to take a moment to pause and think about gratitude in terms of your essence. Don’t worry about what you should say or write, or what time during the day you should “show” gratitude. Think about who you are in your gratitude and how the energy of your gratitude feels. Gratitude is to be experienced seamlessly all throughout the day!

So, the question is: How do you experience gratitude?

How I experience gratitude…

I wrote the paragraph below in a moment of deep connection to my gratitude answering the the question of how do I experience gratitude. In other words, I set down to write this because I felt a deep down force-like need to put these words in front of me. I let the words simply flow through me without questioning or intentionally placing, omitting words, or re-wording anything. And precisely within these words is the power of this seemingly random act of putting words on paper. It is how I experience gratitude on a very deep level regardless of what I’m grateful for at any given time throughout the day. I express gratitude sometimes couple of times a day, other times multiple times a day – I do not track how many times. It’s the feeling I’m after, not the expression itself.

 

How it may help you…

I am sharing it in this blog post simply because I hope it will spark a bit of inspiration to get you thinking what gratitude is to you, what it could do for you, and how you may use it in your life. This will be different for you than it is for me. Use it as an example, then connect with your own essence to find out what your gratitude is about and how you need to carry it forward in your life. So here goes mine:

Gratitude has captured my heart. Finally I understand. Finally I see. As time has given me the ability to take what I have consumed and process and see and truly come to my own realization that gratitude can build someone from the inside out. Gratitude can rebuild a person from completely unhappy and always unsettled to simply focused, strong, firm, actionable, content, confidant, kind, better. Gratitude unites and reunites all parts of a person’s being. It takes what a person has and works from the center out, from inside out, from the bottom up. It’s the most amazing thing. The most valuable transformation. Greatness and love become one so a person becomes so amazingly calm and unbothered by small trivial events and instances. As I realize this a ray of love and sunshine comes through me, consumes me and it is at that moment happiness settles in me forever.