The Best Step To A Life Of Purpose And Excitement

Do you wake up in the morning and can’t wait to bound out of bed because you have wonderful things to do and your own world to explore?

Do you feel like your life is so full of purpose that the world would be better if there were two of you?
 
Do you know what it feels like to be at your best in the areas that are most important to you?
 
That’s incredible, I’m glad you’re here because the rest of us can learn a lot from you.
 
Did you say no to any of those questions?
 
Are you Normal?
 
I am, at least when …
 
            a bit more oomph in the morning would be great?
 
            firing on all cylinders at will would be thrilling?
 
            having a reason to get out of bed that didn’t suck…
 
                                                        … would be amazing.
 
 
Welcome. You are not alone.
 
And the news gets better.
 

WE CAN START TODAY FEELING WHAT PUPORSE FEELS LIKE 

 
We can start today experimenting with how that would feel.
 
We can start today seeing and feeling a real difference.
 
We can start today living a life that is not quite so normal, one that is a lot more fun.
 
I’m going to show you how. 
 
First,
 
Let’s look at what is normal, and why we shouldn’t feel bad about starting out that way.
 
In 2014 Gallup did a poll on purpose -well bein. Here’s what they found.
 
 The higher score for the Americas is due to Latin America. Panama in particular with over 60%. One wonders then what North America would look like without their purpose-oriented south of the borders. 
 
At any rate, it would seem that normal is not having a lot of Purpose.
 
How could that be when in 2016, well-being products made a whopping 9.9 billion $ in the US alone in 2016.
 
Yet only 36% of those Americans in 2017 reported being happy (Harris poll).
 

All those self-help books are not helping this bad boy (photo: Javi Sanchez)

 

YOU CAN get BETTER RESULTS, NOW 

   
I’m not suggesting that an increase in the consumption of self-improvement materials should necessarily correlate with an increase of general happiness and well-being across a particular population.
 
I am not saying happiness is the goal, happiness comes and goes, but well-being and purpose is what we are made for. 
 
Shouldn’t those 9.9 billion $ have more of an impact?
 
Of course, there’s a big difference between buying a book or course and doing what it says.
 
The reason for this goes deeper than a lack of motivation.
 
It’s not that people don’t want to change or are too lazy to follow a program, it’s that we are biologically programmed to maintain a certain equilibrium or homeostasis.
 
The body doesn’t look at change with an open eye. It disfavors it, with no prejudice. Good and bad change are looked down upon.
 
Homeostasis doesn’t stop on the physical level.
 
It’s a social beast as well.
 

Social beasts are hard to tame (photo: Ben Brophy)

Our entourage is not always the most supportive of the actions we undertake to bring us the change we want.
 
Sometimes people don’t like seeing other people they know start to live differently. It screws with the equilibrium.
 
It means that social codes and rules are being broken. And you can’t maintain an equilibrium with broken rules.
 
Other times it can be that people think they know us too well. Supportive family and friends would be thrilled to see us grow, it’s just that … sometimes they just don’t see it.
 
So what does this mean?
 
Basically, even if you’re mentally ready for change, you’ve bought into the how and you’re totally on board… the boat beneath you has every reason to stay tethered to the mooring.
 
That’s the sad truth.
 
Here’s the happy truth.
 
We’re habitual creatures.
 
Homeostasis reinforces habits and habits reinforce homeostasis.
 
So if we could shortcut to what we want, bypassing the body’s resistance and get straight to a state that feels good…
 
… and then, pleasurably build that into a habit… we could get a new homeostasis much more to our liking.
 
 

CONTRARY TO BELIEF, THERE IS A SHORTCUT

 
I realize that the trend is no longer to say that there are shortcuts. Finished are the days that people believed in the MAGICAL BULLET that could cure all the ills and hit all your targets, with, well… magic.
 
Although we might no longer believe in miraculous potions, we can still believe in miracles.
 
Oxford dictionary – miracle: An exceptional product or achievement, or an outstanding example of something.
 
Miracles tend to happen instantaneously without much effort – like magic.
 
And what is magic?
 
For me, it’s when you pull something out of thin air, or out of a hat.
 
And that’s what we’re going to do.
 
More specifically, that’s what you are going to do. You are going to pull some magic out of your metaphorical hat that is going to lead you directly to Purpose. It’ll be like the Monopoly card “Pass Go, collect 200 $” with which you can pay the ferryman to get you across the river of … in this case, resistance, and on to the other side.
 
A bold claim? Of course. What is not bold about claiming the right to feel purpose and meaning in life? What is not bold about pushing past homeostasis towards a state that is much more enjoyable and beneficial for ourselves and those around us?
 
Why should we be so bold?
 
Spoiler alert, it’s a selfish reason. Because people with purpose enjoy themselves more.
 
Second reason?
 
Spoiler alert, it’s still selfish. People with purpose impact those around them. How is that selfish? Because it makes the person having that impact feel even better.
 

That’s the Why. So what’s the How?

 
1. We’re going to shoot straight for the miracle of what we want and bypass the how of getting there.
 
2. We’re going to start in small actionable steps that get us there faster than if we tried to take it all on at once.
 
The point is to get a taste.
 
That reminds me of a story.
 
A young lad trying to sell me a program over the phone reeled off a cliché that I had never heard before. “You know what they say, you sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
 
I hadn’t known they said that, but the cliché was actually pretty profound.
 
It’s the sizzle that excites us.
 
The steak is only a delivery device. It’s the sizzle that we want. The sizzle is the experience we are hungry for.
 
But sizzle is only the sound. What about what it looks like?
 
If you are a vegetarian or vegan please skip ahead and forgive the following graphic imagery.
 
Can you think of an advertisement for a steakhouse?
 
Can you imagine that sizzling steak on a plate being served to you?
 
Can you see the charbroiled surface of the thick steak? And feel the tug of the serrated knife as you pull it through the meat and see the color on the inside, cooked exactly how you like it?
 
As your fork carries a moist morsel aloft towards your mouth, already watering, can you imagine the burst of flavor as you chomp down, chew and then swallow, getting a full experience of taste, feel, sound and sight leaving you wanting more?
 
That is a sensory-rich experience pulled out of thin air from the power of your imagination.
 
Of course, a vegetarian or vegan would have an equally sensory-rich experience from that paragraph, but one that was probably unpleasant.
 
Vegetarians and vegans can switch out the word “steak” and “meat” for something like “lemon and garlic marinated eggplant roasted and peppered with sesame seeds and a few drops of balsamic velouté vinegar if they want.
 
The point of “selling the sizzle not the steak” is that it’s the experience we want.
 
So we’re going to go straight to the experience of purpose.
 
And we’re going to start with small bites.
 
 

One bite at a time

 
 
Be it a steak or sliced eggplant marinated in lemon on the grill and peppered with sesame seeds and a few drops of balsamic vinegar, we don’t swallow the thing whole.
 
Remember, it’s all about the experience.
 
Our body needs nutrition. But that’s not what primarily motivates us to eat. Our body and brain have concocted a wonderful mechanism for getting us to eat. Cravings. What we crave is the experience. And experience occurs bite by bite.
 
How does that apply to Purpose, and enough Purpose to get us out of bed in the morning with motivation and zeal for what the day has in store for us and what we have in store for it?
 
We’re going to start with small actionable experiences that we can enjoy now and will get us taking the next bite.
 
We don’t need to bite off more than we can chew.
It is so easy to look at other people and think that what they have is so beyond us. It’s easy to think that we’ve started too late and that we’ve wasted too much time. It’s easy to wonder what in the hell is the point of even trying, for we’ll never get there, we’ll never be able to compare.
 
Why is that so easy to think like that? Because we are concentrating on the results of others.
 
We should think about the joy of what it would feel like to experience a small taste already.
 
It’s not beyond our reach. If we start today, we can get a taste now.
 
So we are going to avoid the overwhelm by going to go straight to the feeling we want and then build from there.
 
Let’s talk about HOW we’re going to do that.
 
I used to interpret for a Chinese Tai Chi master during his workshops in France. I don’t speak Chinese, he moved to Australia as a young boy and spoke English. He would do workshops in Europe a few times a year. Over seven years I got to spend time at his side while he taught. The best was when he walked around the room adjusting people’s posture and technique.

He could gently touch them, push and nudge them into a better position. It was something to see as he moved them less than a centimeter sometimes, hardly perceptible on the outside, yet on the inside, it was obvious their experience was very different. You could see it on their faces.

 
“Can you feel that?” he would ask. The student would smile. “That’s what you’re aiming for. You were doing this.” And he would put them back to their original position. “Whereas, you want this,” as he gently guided them back. “Look for that feeling.”
 
He adjusted their position so mechanically their joints and bones lined up in a way that felt different.
 
He was looking to guide them to something they could feel on the inside and use that feeling to find their way back later. I never knew what they were feeling, but it was obvious that they were feeling something good.
 
It is rare that we get that sort of direction.
 
It’s rare for us to be guided to a place where we can feel a difference on the inside that we can find our way back through practice.
 

LIKE HAVING YOUR OWN PERSONAL YODA, GUIDING YOU FROM THE INSIDE

 
This is the point of the exercise that follows: to allow you to explore what feels right, the best feeling for you, which you can then get back to when you want. 
 
The exercise is a series of questions. These questions will be like your own Tai Chi master that will help guide you to a place of a particular feeling. And like a lot of good Tai Chi, it looks simple.
 
Each step looks tiny on the outside, but if you pay attention, you’ll have the possibility of feeling it big on the inside.
 
I repeat, the questions in the exercise can seem overly simple, but it’s your level of engagement with them that helps you find the magic.
 
You’ll be creating the miracle and each time you do that, you’ll be tracing a path that will become clearer and easier to take each time you do it.
 
So we’ve been through the why and the how. It’s time to get started.
 
We have one last thing to cover before we do.
 
What is the feeling we’re going to start with?
 
We’re going to start with feeling good.
 
Feeling good inside.
 

YOUR VERY OWN PERSONAL PURPOSE

 
That is our first Purpose. Well-being.
 
Well-being is about feeling well. Feeling well feels good.
 
That’s where we’re going to start, and we’ll grow from there.
 
In this first exercise, I’m going to ask you to compare one thing to another. I’m going to ask you to describe a particular feeling by comparing it to something else.
 
We’ll talk more about why we are doing this next time, but for now, just know that we do this all the time.
 

WE’VE GOT METAPHORS ON THE BRAIN…

 
We constantly use metaphors to describe certain feelings or inner states that we experience.
 
We use phrases like, John is really down at the moment. Or Kate is over the moon about her new job… whereas John is not literally down unless he fell into a hole (although he might have fallen into a trap… metaphorically) and Kate is not suspended over the moon.
 
We use everyday metaphors in our language (some studies say we average 6 per minute in normal speech).
 
It’s just how we talk about things.
 
Surfers are stoked.
 
Wordsworth had a gentle shock of mild surprise.
Busy people have a lot on their plate and entrepreneurs have to juggle different tasks and wear different hats.
 
Jamie might feel like he’s in a rut, but Jane has found her groove.
 
It’s a real game changer when you start recognizing metaphors in everyday speech.
 
These are examples of metaphors in everyday language (except for Wordsworth, but I was shocked is common today.)
 
Most of the time we use these metaphors without even thinking about them.
 
But we can use them more purposefully.
 
Jung discussed how we use symbolic terms to talk about concepts that we doin’t fully understand, things that are just beyond our grasp. He also said that personal insights are often accompanied by metaphors.
 
The great thing about metaphors is that we can figuratively (of course) pick and pull at them, look them over, get different angles and see what they’re really made of and see how they react and feel.
 
When we use a metaphor for a feeling, for example, that feeling becomes palpable in a way that the word on its own wasn’t. And the more we explore, the more the experience becomes psycho-active, meaning we actually feel it.
 
When you look closely at a symbol, you can measure its size, its shape, you can see if there’s a color, if there’s any movement, and more…
 
… and soon instead of just a word, you now have a three-dimensional thing that you see, hear and feel.
 
This is your personal representation of a feeling that you have created, unique to you, custom made, yours alone, for you, by you.

Here’s a quick example.

If you were to ask me right now, what I was feeling like I could say excited (writing about this stuff has that effect on me).

Now, we all know what the word excited means. We can even look it up in the dictionary. But just the word excited doesn’t give you or me a lot of information beyond the basic definition.

Plus the word excited can be used in many different situations, positive and negative.

This is from the Merriam Webster website:

having, showing, or characterized by a heightened state of energy, enthusiasm, eagerness, etc. : feeling or showing excitement

I noticed that John’s manner was somewhat unusual. He seemed very excited and restless.— Agatha Christie

The children were too excited to sleep.…

No one in Washington seems to regard this particular revelation as anything to get excited about.

So, do you really have an idea of what I mean by the word? Not likely.

Do I even know what I mean by the word? Well, kind of, but I just threw that word out there because it seemed the closest and quickest in my limited vocabulary to what I feel.

What if I look up synonyms, to get a better feel?

agitated, feverish, frenzied, heated, hectic, hyperactive, overactive, overwrought

None of those apply.

Now, you could say that I should choose a better word. And you’d be right.

But even if I take the time to find a better word, one that really matches exactly how I feel, it would still only be a word that has been designated to represent that feeling. There would be no guarantee that a door was opened for you to really get what I’m feeling. And more importantly, it might not give me anything palpable to work with in getting back to that feeling, say tomorrow or the next day, when I might not be excited to write.

The point of this exercise is to flesh out the experience of the desired feeling to the point where it is palpable and psycho-active, leaving us with a map to get back to it.

So, regardless of the word chosen, we can go deeper.

In response to my saying, “I feel excited,” you could ask, “excited like what?”

Now you are asking me to compare my feeling to something else, which by definition would be a metaphor.

I would, of course, have to pause and think about that. It’s not a normal question. Normally people just accept the words we use and think they know what we mean. But we want to deepen the experience.

Is it excited like a puppy dog bouncing and slobbering all over the place, or is it excited in anticipation about I hope you are going to find exploring these questions or is it excited as in a heightened state of energy just by thinking all of this through and getting it down in words?

So let me think about it for a second. When I said excited, that was just a word. I’m not bouncing around on my seat writing this. I’m concentrated. There is a certain feeling of “flow” but that is a metaphor too. What really helps is if I compare it to something.

Yesterday I went sailing in the Côtes d’Armor, Brittany. I have an old 470 (4 meters and 70 cm long) which is an Olympic class sailing dinghy. I am not an Olympic class sailor, nor is my boat fitted out to modern-day competition standards, but, it is a hoot to sail, especially in the strong and steady winds we had yesterday.

There is a lot of sail for the size of the boat which means that it goes fast. There is the right balance between harnessing as much of the wind as possible for speed and not harnessing too much that the wind pushes you over and you capsize.

It’s an experience of feeling the thrust of the hull cutting through, and sometimes butting up against the cap of the waves, while one hand is on the tug of the rudder with the other giving and taking on the sail line with the pressure of the wind as it tries to pull you over.

There are so many things to consider that you quickly forget about everything other than holding that tension and being taken over by the thrill. Not to mention how clear and green the ocean water is as it spumes by only slightly lighter in hue than the nearby verdant cliffs.

So I could say like I’m excited like a boat on the ocean.

And you could ask me a lot of questions about what kind of boat (a 470 is a lot different than on a large yacht, or a small optimist, for example).

You could ask me what kind of ocean (there’s the quality of those particular waters, there is the quality of those particular conditions, etc)

You could ask me about what kind of sailing (there are different wind conditions, some more intense than others).

And each answer could provoke more questions.

What would the point be?

Very quickly, through description, I would start feeling the feelings that I encountered on that boat, and I would be tying it to the experience of sitting down here writing on this project, remembering how I need to be careful not to harness too much energy so that I capsize us all in too much detail, too much information while keeping us propelled along in the thrill of the ride so that we want to do more.

And that you never know until sometimes you find yourself swimming in clear cold water and have to right the boat and start again.

But now I have a very visceral take on the word excited in this circumstance that not only will help guide me but one that I can find my way back to much more easily than just thinking about the word “excited.”

Now it’s your turn. Again, before we jump to feelings like “excited” we’re going to start with our first purpose. Well-being. So we’re going to start with feeling good.

YOUR TURN.

THE EXERCISE THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO YOUR TRUE PURPOSE

 

1) So with that in mind, grab a piece of paper or a notebook and a pen or pencil (or even better, print out the questions that follow).

2) Go somewhere alone where you won’t be distracted for the next 15 minutes or so, away from all devices, phones, etc. You want to be alone where you can concentrate.

3) Take a few breaths, get nice and relaxed and think about the following sentence.

Now…

I would like you to think about when you are feeling really good, I would like you to think about what that’s like, what it’s like when there is a lot of well-being inside, I want you to think about feeling good and what that’s like…

If you’re having difficulty thinking of that, think of a time when you felt like that in the past.

If you’re having difficulty thinking of that, you can just imagine what it would be like.

… when you are feeling good, well, and things are right…

When you feel like that…

That is like what?

Take a moment and think about that.

Is there a metaphor that you can think of? Is there a word that comes to mind? Either or work. Write it down.

Here’s the question again.

QUESTION 1

When you are feeling really good, …. you are like… what?

 

 

QUESTION 2

What kind of ….?

Choose one of the words in your phrase. What kind of thing is that thing that you wrote down? Chose one of the words and describe it.

 

 

QUESTION 3

And is there anything else you could add?
Take a moment, keep seeing what you are seeing and see if any other detail comes to mind, either about something you’ve already described or something else that you see or feel.

 

 

 

QUESTION 4

Where is that thing you’ve just described?
Here are some hints; in comparison to you, is it inside or outside of you?
And once you know that, where is it exactly (where inside or where outside of you?)

 

Recopy everything you’ve written below, so the description is in one place. Feel free to add anything you think might be important, or that comes to you.

Re-read what you have written.
By now you should have a pretty clear and defined vision of that “something” and you know where it is in comparison to yourself.

Here’s the next question. The point of this question is to see how all of this affects you when you are feeling really good just like that.

 

 

QUESTION 5

When it is like all of that, what happens next? (what is the effect of all of that?)… or

When you are feeling really good like that, what do you find yourself doing or thinking or feeling? Make it simple for someone to see, hear or feel that happening, like a scene in a movie.

 

 

 

QUESTION 6

And When it’s like all of that, what is the difference that all of that makes? (compared to when you are not like that) Try to answer in one or two sentences.

 

Bravo, seriously, congratulations.

This is your personal Metaphor for what it is like for you when you are feeling really good, your own personal well-being map

Treasure it.
 

Whatever has come up out of this is your own creation. I don’t say that lightly. You were the only one doing the work here. But before we go further I have one more thing for you to do.

I ask you to make a visible representation of this creation, either by drawing it (for those who shiver at the thought of that, I myself can’t draw a straw let alone a picture but I still do this regularly, it’s only for myself, no one else sees it so I don’t care) or finding a picture on the net or in a magazine that represents it.

Put that visual representation where you can see it daily. If you have time, before you start your day, take a few moments to look at it, and reconnect with what you did today, and see what effect it has on you.

You can start and finish each day for a week by connecting to that image and remembering everything you experienced while creating or discovering it.

You can read your final paragraph you answered in Question 6 every morning and evening before going to bed and notice what difference it makes inside.

 

EXERCISE EXAMPLE

 (this is only an example, to give you guidance)

Question 1
When you are feeling really good, …. you are like… what?

Example: I’m like a frog in a pond

In this example, a frog in a pond seems pretty clear and detailed. Everyone knows what a frog is, right? Well, not really. When I wrote that, I thought of big ole bullfrog I used to find and try to catch when I was a kid in rural Pennsylvania. They were big, and looked full of purpose, royal and not afraid of anything – until I got too close and plop! Off it went off out of sight in the dark water where it would stay for seemingly forever. Your frog would probably be different. Even if they might look similar, they are still different in many ways. Without going into any more of that right now, we will later, let’s take for granted that your idea of whatever it is that you said is different from anyone else, and you now just have to describe it.

Again, I don’t associate frogs with feeling good, it just came to mind. There’s no logic here, nor is there any needed.

Question 2
What kind of thing is that thing that you wrote down? Chose one of the words and describe it. What kind of X (the word you used) is that?

In my example, I would describe what kind of frog it is.

A big green bullfrog.

Now, I would like you to look at each word you wrote down. Which words could you describe even more? You probably wrote down some adjectives, could they be defined further?
In this example, what kind of green? Dark, light, army green? Do this to as many of the words as you can.

Ex: It’s big and dark green, with brownish spots behind each eye.

Question 3
And is there anything else about all of that?

Take a moment, keep seeing what you are seeing and see if any other detail comes to mind, either about something you’ve already described or something else that you see or feel. Describe the scene.

Ex: It’s sitting very still, in the sun, on a lily pad. The sun is warm.

Now you should have a pretty clear image going on by now. Here’s the next question.

Question 4
Where is that thing you’ve just described? In your mind’s eye, where would you position this thing in comparison to yourself?

Here are some hints; in comparison to you, is it inside or outside you?
And once you know that, where exactly?

Ex a: It’s over to my right, and a bit forward (say between 2 and 3 o’clock) and ground level.

Ex b: It’s inside my chest.

Recopy everything you’ve written below, so the description is in one place. Feel free to add anything you think might be important, or that simply comes to you.

Re-read what you have written.
By now you should have a pretty clear and defined vision of that “something” and you know where it is in comparison to yourself.

Here’s the next question. The point of this question is to see how all of this affects you when you are feeling really good just like that.

Question 5
When it is like all of that, what happens next? (what is the effect of all of that?)… or

When you are feeling at your best like that, what do you find yourself doing or thinking or feeling?

Ex: I’m relaxed. I’m taking everything in. I don’t need to do anything, but I can if I want to, like jump into the water and go exploring. I’m just there, ready. I’m where I should be.

And here’s another funny question, but read it carefully.

And when you notice everything that you notice now, when you notice that feeling, where do you notice that exactly?

Ex: In my chest, spreading out to my hands and feet.

Now write down the full description up to now.
Just an example: When I’m feeling at my best I’m like a frog sitting on a lily pad in the sun, a dark green frog on a light green large lily pad that floats on the water, and it’s a warm afternoon sun. And it’s inside my chest. And when I’m like that, I feel warm and relaxed, in my chest, I breathe naturally, just like floating on the lily

pad, and I don’t need to do anything else except soak it in. It feels good inside. And then sometimes I like to take a big jump off the lily pad into the cool water and go exploring.

And finally…

Question 6

When it’s like all of that, what difference does that make being like that? (compared to when you are not like that) Try to answer in one or two sentences.

Like…

When I’m like that (like that frog, breathing slowly, just sitting there and not concerned about anything other than just sitting there, soaking it all in, and I if I want, ready to jump into the cool water and go exploring) the difference (from when I’m not like that) is that I can look at things differently, regardless of what’s happening around me, I’m calm and quiet, and can choose the right moment to go off and explore things different options that present themselves.

And I feel that now.

I can now make a drawing of that, or find a picture that is similar, and put it up where I can see it often.

I can start and finish my day by connecting to that image and remembering everything I experienced while creating or discovering it.

I can read the above paragraph every morning and evening before going to bed and notice what difference it makes inside.