Where To Meet Friends : 25 Places And Ideas To Meet New People

Source: Where To Meet Friends : 25 Places And Ideas To Meet New People

I think the title says it all. I Dare you not to find something that suits you in the list below.

To get the most out of this article, pick just five ideas that you’re most excited about. Try them for three weeks and see what worked for you the most. After that, dismiss what doesn’t work for you and come back to pick new ideas you’ve never tried.

Now, of course you have to know how to talk to people, have a little fun, exchange contact information and take it from there. But, knowing where to go to meet people can make the whole process of making friends easier for you.

Obviously I haven’t tried everything here, but I tried most of it and ONLY included what makes sens for a young man to do to meet friends :

Sports Class : Boxing, Gym and Aerobics, etc. You choose. It’s a good way to take care of yourself and meet people. Although, it’s always better to take a class where the people are young and interesting. You can’t afford to waste your time in a class where you can’t  meet friends.

Hobbie Class : Yoga, Salsa Dance, Tango Dance, Cooking, Acting… etc. It’s a great ways to meet new friends. If you want to learn a new skill, then do it. If you want to do it just to meet friends, then fine. A lot of people take up new hobbies just for that.

Hobbie/Sports-based Group : Photography, Guitare (or any other instrument) lovers, Fitness and Running Clubs, Improv Clubs, Actors Studio, Philosophy Lovers Club.

Facebook : Of course, you have to know how to do it properly, or else, you’ll waste a huge amount of time.

Non-Profit : Join a non-profit or just go to their events, talk to people and get interested in the people. You can talk to people about the event’s subject, but the more you can talk about THEM, the more chances you’ll become a friend.

Social Events : Expat Events, Social Groups, Networking Events, 20-something After-work Events. These are great, I went to hundreds of events like them. The people are open and interested in making new friends. Also, if you’re a little shy, don’t worry, these are the EASIEST people to talk to.

Meetup.com : Abundance of groups and Get-togethers… frankly no reason not to do it. I went to a dozen meetups and now I’m part of a House Music Club. I like how chill the people are. Example (San Diego groups and meetups) : http://bit.ly/vnP7g3

Neighbors : Simple sequence : go from Hi to How Are Things Going? to How’s work? to What do you do? to Care for a drink?

Online Forums : Fitness, Dating, Sports… it’s amazing how you can take any subjet, let’s say “fishing”, go to google, type “fishing forum san diego” and you’ll find a whole community of people interested in that. You can go to a forum around something you love, start sharing your opinions on topics and then send private messages to some people you want to meet.

Bars and Pubs : Yes, they can be intimidating. But you can just start talking to someone at the bar, guy or girl. If you want to meet new people at bars, go to busy bars where the music is not too loud. If you put yourself in a busy area, people are going to be all around you. Turn on your confidence and talk to people.

Personally, I go to bars because my social life gets stimulated in there. I happen to bump into a lot of people I know that I would like to turn into friends. I meet existing friends and I get to meet THEIR friends. And also, it gives me a chance to introduce my friends to each other which is very important.

Book Clubs and Book Stores : Never tried a book club but I met a few female friends in bookstores. One time, I just said to a girl holding a personal finances book “Hey, that’s what rich people read… you must be rich, let’s get married or something!”. She was into self improvement so we hit it off pretty quick.

Private Parties : Always go to the private parties of people you know. Especially the Birthday parties. People may act aloof about it, but it means a LOT to them if you show up at their birthday party. You make the friendship go a lot deeper. And it’s a great way to meet THEIR friends. Chances are, you’ll meet their close friends and some family. And people get very friendly and open in birthday parties.

The Dog Park : or any pet-related event (if you have a pet)

Cultural Events : Museum events, Concerts, live music and local bands

Comedy Club/Comedy Fans Groups

Sports Team Fans Clubs (Baseball, Football, Basket-Ball, Hockey) If you like a team, but not a mad-fan, don’t worry, you can still hangout with at the fan get-together’s. You can go and chat about the games and the team. You say to people that you don’t necessarily watch all the games but you like the team. If you’re interested in any of the participants, talk to him and switch the conversation to what they do in life and what they do for fun.

Pick five ideas that you’re most excited about. Try them for three weeks, keep what works for you. Then come back to get inspired again.

Professional Events : Fairs, Function-Driven Groups (example: sales, marketing, development, advertising, architects, lawyers, real estate, etc…). Self-explanatory I hope? People go to these events to do “professional networking”. That means they expect people to come and introduce themselves. It makes it easy for you to meet new people. Just don’t stay too much on the professional side of the conversation. You can be a little easy going and show clearly that you can be fun too.

These places are full of young people.

Seminars : self explanatory? If you go to a seminar about your subject of interest, how easier can it get to make new friends? You just met the people you want the most: People with shared interests.

Self-Improvement Clubs : Hypnosis Groups, Holistic Healing Groups, NLP Groups, Psychology, Meditation. These can be fun. You could meet some interesting people who are conscious of where they’re going in life. The downside is that all people won’t be of your age. But still, you can always meet at least two to five friends, just through an NLP Group.

Public Speaking Clubs (like Toastmasters) Do you want to learn public speaking? If not, you can skip this. But if you do, then definitely go to these.

Singles Clubs and Events and Speed Dating : These are fun, especially if you go with a friend or a female friend. Just get there and talk to people and make it clear that you don’t only want to meet a girls for dating. Talk to anyone girl/guy/group of girls. The key is to not take it seriously. You can find singles clubs online.

Couchsurfing.org : If you’ve never couch-surfed, you may wanna try it. I never did but heard great feedback on how interesting it is. What I did try is to contact local couchsurfers and asked them questions about the site and how did they find the experience. That led to adding them on facebook and meeting them in person later on. By the way, they also do casual couchsurfers meetup’s, you go to them even if you’re *just* interested in the concept.

Contests and Tournaments : Poker, Video-games, Races, Dance contests…

Language-Driven Events and Groups : People learning new languages like to meet others who do too. If you speak Spanish, French or any other foreign language, find a group of people who are learning it.

Wine/Beer Events : Casual-Drinkers clubs, Beer Fans, Wine Tasting. If you drink, go to these. Some people are cool, some are just losers pretending to be cool. You have to make your pick.

That’s it for now! Awesome list and I dare you NOT to find at least Two ideas that suit your situation perfectly.

Remember, people are bored and no one listens to them. They’re desperate for someone like you to come and ask them questions about themselves.

Paul Sanders

Roman Krznaric

Source: Roman Krznaric

Friday September 9th, 2016

Are We Living in the Age of Empathy?

If you think you’re hearing the word “empathy” everywhere, you’re right. It’s now on the lips of scientists and business leaders, education experts and political activists. But there is a vital question that few people ask: How can I expand my own empathic potential? Empathy is not just a way to extend the boundaries of your moral universe. According to new research, it’s a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives.

But what is empathy? It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions. That makes it different from kindness or pity. And don’t confuse it with the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As George Bernard Shaw pointed out, “do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you—they might have different tastes.” Empathy is about discovering those tastes.

The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how we understand human nature. The old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, and mutual aid.

Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another person.Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another person.

The Empathetic Brain

Over the last decade, neuroscientists have identified a 10-section “empathy circuit” in our brains which, if damaged, can curtail our ability to understand what other people are feeling. Evolutionary biologists, like Frans de Waal, have shown that we are social animals who have naturally evolved to care for each other, just like our primate cousins. And psychologists have revealed that we are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.

But empathy doesn’t stop developing in childhood. We can nurture its growth throughout our lives—and we can use it as a radical force for social transformation. Research in sociology, psychology, history—and my own studies of empathic personalities over the past 10 years—reveals how we can make empathy an attitude and a part of our daily lives, and thus, improve the lives of everyone around us. Here are the Six Habits of Highly Empathic People!

We are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.We are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships in the first two years of life.

Habit 1: Cultivate curiosity about strangers

Highly empathic people (HEPs) have an insatiable curiosity about strangers. They will talk to the person sitting next to them on the bus, having retained that natural inquisitiveness we all had as children, but which society is so good at beating out of us. They find other people more interesting than themselves but are not out to interrogate them, respecting the advice of the oral historian, Studs Terkel: “Don’t be an examiner, be the interested inquirer.”

Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle, encountering lives and worldviews very different from our own. Curiosity is good for us too: Happiness guru Martin Seligman identifies it as a key character strength that can enhance life satisfaction. And it is a useful cure for the chronic loneliness afflicting around one in three Americans.

Cultivating curiosity requires more than having a brief chat about the weather. Crucially, it tries to understand the world inside the head of the other person. We are confronted by strangers every day, like the heavily tattooed woman who delivers your mail or the new employee who always eats his lunch alone. Set yourself the challenge of having a conversation with one stranger every week. All it requires is courage.

Curiosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circleCuriosity expands our empathy when we talk to people outside our usual social circle.

Habit 2: Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities

We all have assumptions about others and use collective labels—e.g., “Muslim fundamentalist,” “welfare mom”—that prevent us from appeciating their individuality. HEPs challenge their own preconceptions and prejudices by searching for what they share with people rather than what divides them. An episode from the history of US race relations illustrates how this can happen.

Claiborne Paul Ellis was born into a poor white family in Durham, North Carolina, in 1927. Finding it hard to make ends meet working in a garage and believing African Americans were the cause of all his troubles, he followed his father’s footsteps and joined the Ku Klux Klan, eventually rising to the top position of Exalted Cyclops of his local KKK branch.

In 1971 he was invited—as a prominent local citizen—to a 10-day community meeting to tackle racial tensions in schools, and was chosen to head a steering committee with Ann Atwater, a black activist he despised. But working with her exploded his prejudices about African Americans. He saw that she shared the same problems of poverty as his own. “I was beginning to look at a black person, shake hands with him, and see him as a human being,” he recalled of his experience on the committee. “It was almost like bein’ born again.” On the final night of the meeting, he stood in front of a thousand people and tore up his Klan membership card.

Ellis later became a labor organiser for a union whose membership was 70 percent African American. He and Ann remained friends for the rest of their lives. There may be no better example of the power of empathy to overcome hatred and change our minds.

Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis show how empathy can overcome hatred and change our minds.Ann Atwater and C.P. Ellis show how empathy can overcome hatred and change our minds.

Habit 3: Try another person’s life

So you think ice climbing and hang-gliding are extreme sports? Then you need to try experiential empathy, the most challenging—and potentially rewarding—of them all. HEPs expand their empathy by gaining a direct experience from other people’s lives, putting into practice the Native American proverb, “walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you criticize him.”

George Orwell is an inspiring model.  After several years as a colonial police officer in British Burma in the 1920s, Orwell returned to Britain determined to discover what life was like for those living on the social margins. “I wanted to submerge myself, to get right down among the oppressed,” he wrote. So he dressed up as a tramp with shabby shoes and coat, and lived on the streets of East London with beggars and vagabonds. The result, recorded in his book Down and Out in Paris and London, was a radical change in his beliefs, priorities, and relationships. He not only realized that homeless people are not “drunken scoundrels”—Orwell developed new friendships, shifted his views on inequality, and gathered some superb literary material. It was the greatest travel experience of his life. He realised that empathy doesn’t just make you good—it’s good for you, too.

We can each conduct our own experiments. If you are religiously observant, try a “God Swap,” attending the services of faiths different from your own, including a meeting of Humanists. Or if you’re an atheist, try attending different churches! Spend your next vacation living and volunteering in a village in a developing country. Take the path favored by philosopher John Dewey, who said, “all genuine education comes about through experience.”

If you are religiously observant, try a “God Swap”.If you are religiously observant, try a “God Swap”.

Habit 4: Listen hard—and open up

There are two traits required for being an empathic conversationalist.

One is to master the art of radical listening. “What is essential,” says Marshall Rosenberg, psychologist and founder of Non-Violent Communication (NVC), “is our ability to be present to what’s really going on within—to the unique feelings and needs a person is experiencing in that very moment.” HEPs listen hard to others and do all they can to grasp their emotional state and needs, whether it is a friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer or a spouse who is upset at them for working late yet again.

But listening is never enough. The second trait is to make ourselves vulnerable. Removing our masks and revealing our feelings to someone is vital for creating a strong empathic bond. Empathy is a two-way street that, at its best, is built upon mutual understanding—an exchange of our most important beliefs and experiences.

Organizations such as the Israeli-Palestinian Parents Circle put it all into practice by bringing together bereaved families from both sides of the conflict to meet, listen, and talk. Sharing stories about how their loved ones died enables families to realize that they share the same pain and the same blood, despite being on opposite sides of a political fence, and has helped to create one of the world’s most powerful grassroots peace-building movements.

Read more about holding space for others and speaking to someone about an unspeakable loss.

Sharing stories enables families to realize that they share the same pain.Sharing stories enables families to realize that they share the same pain

Habit 5: Inspire mass action and social change

We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but HEPs understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change.

Just think of the movements against slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries on both sides of the Atlantic. As journalist, Adam Hochschild, reminds us: “The abolitionists placed their hope not in sacred texts but human empathy,” doing all they could to get people to understand the very real suffering on the plantations and slave ships. Equally, the international trade union movement grew out of empathy between industrial workers united by their shared exploitation. The overwhelming public response to the Asian tsunami of 2004 emerged from a sense of empathic concern for the victims, whose plight was dramatically beamed into our homes on shaky video footage.

Empathy will most likely flower on a collective scale if its seeds are planted in our children.  That’s why HEPs support efforts, such as Canada’s pioneering Roots of Empathy, the world’s most effective empathy teaching program, which has benefited over half a million school kids. Its unique curriculum centers on an infant, with a focus on learning emotional intelligence—and its results include significant declines in playground bullying and higher levels of academic achievement.Beyond education, the big challenge is figuring out how social networking technology can harness the power of empathy to create mass political action. Twitter may have gotten people onto the streets for Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring, but can it convince us to care deeply about the suffering of distant strangers, whether they are drought-stricken farmers in Africa or future generations who will bear the brunt of our carbon-junkie lifestyles? This will only happen if social networks learn to spread not just information, but empathic connection.

The Roots of Empathy

Habit 6: Develop an ambitious imagination

A final trait of HEPs is that they do far more than empathize with the usual suspects. We tend to believe empathy should be reserved for those living on the social margins or who are suffering. This is necessary, but it is hardly enough.

We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way. If you are a campaigner on global warming, for instance, it may be worth trying to step into the shoes of oil company executives—understanding their thinking and motivations—if you want to devise effective strategies to shift them towards developing renewable energy. A little of this “instrumental empathy” (sometimes known as “impact anthropology”) can go a long way.

Empathizing with adversaries is also a route to social tolerance. That was Gandhi’s thinking during the conflicts between Muslims and Hindus leading up to Indian independence in 1947, when he declared, “I am a Muslim! And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew.”

Organizations, too, should be ambitious with their empathic thinking. Bill Drayton, the renowned “father of social entrepreneurship,” believes that in an era of rapid technological change, mastering empathy is the key business survival skill because it underpins successful teamwork and leadership. His influential Ashoka Foundation has launched the Start Empathy initiative, which is taking its ideas to business leaders, politicians and educators worldwide.

The 20th century was the Age of Introspection, when self-help and therapy culture encouraged us to believe that the best way to understand who we are and how to live was to look inside ourselves. But it left us gazing at our own navels. The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.

Tracker Pixel for EntryWatch The Six Habits of Highly Empathic People.

Feature Image: David Curtis.

Read More: The Limits of Empathy

This story originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

“Clara’s Big Ride”: Watch Online Full Episodes

Watch Online on CTV | Watch Full Episodes.

About “Clara’s Big Ride”

Part catalyst for change and part epic road movie, CLARA’S BIG RIDE is an inspiring new film that tackles the profound conversation about mental health and the stigma that surrounds it.

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Advice for a Happy Life by Charles Murray – WSJ.com


A very nice little article,

Rory

Advice for a Happy Life by Charles Murray – WSJ.com.

Updated March 30, 2014 1:01 a.m. ET

Consider marrying young. Be wary of grand passions. Watch “Groundhog Day” repeatedly. Charles Murray, author of “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” joins the News Hub with some advice for young adults on living a good life. Photo: Getty Images.

The transition from college to adult life is treacherous, and this is nowhere more visible than among new college graduates in their first real jobs. A few years ago, I took it upon myself to start writing tips for the young staff where I work about how to avoid doing things that would make their supervisors write them off. It began as a lark as I wrote tips with titles such as, “Excise the word ‘like’ from your spoken English.”

But eventually, I found myself getting into the deeper waters of how to go about living a good life. At that point, I had to deal with a reality: When it comes to a life filled with deep and lasting satisfactions, most of the clichés are true. How could I make them sound fresh to a new generation? Here’s how I tried.

1. Consider Marrying Young

The age of marriage for college graduates has been increasing for decades, and this cultural shift has been a good thing. Many 22-year-olds are saved from bad marriages because they go into relationships at that age assuming that marriage is still out of the question.

But should you assume that marriage is still out of the question when you’re 25? Twenty-seven? I’m not suggesting that you decide ahead of time that you will get married in your 20s. You’ve got to wait until the right person comes along. I’m just pointing out that you shouldn’t exclude the possibility. If you wait until your 30s, your marriage is likely to be a merger. If you get married in your 20s, it is likely to be a startup.

Merger marriages are what you tend to see on the weddings pages of the Sunday New York Times: highly educated couples in their 30s, both people well on their way to success. Lots of things can be said in favor of merger marriages. The bride and groom may be more mature, less likely to outgrow each other or to feel impelled, 10 years into the marriage, to make up for their lost youth.

But let me put in a word for startup marriages, in which the success of the partners isn’t yet assured. The groom with his new architecture degree is still designing stairwells, and the bride is starting her third year of medical school. Their income doesn’t leave them impoverished, but they have to watch every penny.

5 Rules for a Happy Life

Charles Murray offers some tips on how to live to the fullest, adapted from his new book, ‘The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead.’ Luci Gutiérrez

What are the advantages of a startup marriage? For one thing, you will both have memories of your life together when it was all still up in the air. You’ll have fun remembering the years when you went from being scared newcomers to the point at which you realized you were going to make it.

Even more important, you and your spouse will have made your way together. Whatever happens, you will have shared the experience. And each of you will know that you wouldn’t have become the person you are without the other.

Many merger marriages are happy, but a certain kind of symbiosis, where two people become more than the sum of the individuals, is perhaps more common in startups.

2. Learn How to Recognize Your Soul Mate

Ready for some clichés about marriage? Here they come. Because they’re true.

Marry someone with similar tastes and preferences. Which tastes and preferences? The ones that will affect life almost every day.

It is OK if you like the ballet and your spouse doesn’t. Reasonable people can accommodate each other on such differences. But if you dislike each other’s friends, or don’t get each other’s senses of humor or—especially—if you have different ethical impulses, break it off and find someone else.

Personal habits that you find objectionable are probably deal-breakers. Jacques Barzun identified the top three as punctuality, orderliness and thriftiness. It doesn’t make any difference which point of the spectrum you’re on, he observed: “Some couples are very happy living always in debt, always being late, and finding leftover pizza under a sofa cushion.” You just have to be at the same point on the spectrum. Intractable differences will become, over time, a fingernail dragged across the blackboard of a marriage.

What you see is what you’re going to get. If something about your prospective spouse bothers you but you think that you can change your beloved after you’re married, you’re wrong. Be prepared to live with whatever bothers you—or forget it. Your spouse will undoubtedly change during a long marriage but not in ways you can predict or control.

It is absolutely crucial that you really, really like your spouse. You hear it all the time from people who are in great marriages: “I’m married to my best friend.” They are being literal. A good working definition of “soul mate” is “your closest friend, to whom you are also sexually attracted.”

Here are two things to worry about as you look for that person: Do you sometimes pick at each other’s sore spots? You like the same things, have fun together, the sex is great, but one of you is controlling, or nags the other, or won’t let a difference of opinion go or knowingly says things that will hurt you. Break it off.

Another cause for worry is the grand passion. You know a relationship is a grand passion if you find yourself behaving like an adolescent long after adolescence has passed—you are obsessed and a more than a little crazy. Not to worry. Everyone should experience at least one grand passion. Just don’t act on it while the storm is raging.

A good marriage is the best thing that can ever happen to you. Above all else, realize that this cliché is true. The downside risks of marrying—and they are real—are nothing compared with what you will gain from a good one.

3. Eventually Stop Fretting About Fame and Fortune

One of my assumptions about you is that you are ambitious—meaning that you hope to become famous, rich or both, and intend to devote intense energy over the next few decades to pursuing those dreams. That is as it should be. I look with suspicion on any talented 20-something who doesn’t feel that way. I wish you luck.

But suppose you arrive at age 40, and you enjoy your work, have found your soul mate, are raising a couple of terrific kids—and recognize that you will probably never become either rich or famous. At that point, it is important to supplement your youthful ambition with mature understanding.

Years ago, I was watching a television profile of David Geffen, the billionaire music and film producer. At some point, he said, “Show me someone who thinks that money buys happiness, and I’ll show you someone who has never had a lot of money.” The remark was accompanied by an ineffably sad smile on Mr. Geffen’s face, which said that he had been there, done that and knew what he was talking about. The whole vignette struck me in a way that “money can’t buy happiness” never had, and my visceral reaction was reinforced by one especially memorable shot during the profile, taken down the length of Mr. Geffen’s private jet, along the rows of empty leather seats and sofas, to where he sat all alone in the rear.

The problem that you face in your 20s and 30s is that you are gnawed by anxiety that you won’t be a big success. It is an inevitable side effect of ambition. My little story about David Geffen won’t help—now. Pull it out again in 20 years.

Fame and wealth do accomplish something: They cure ambition anxiety. But that’s all. It isn’t much.

4. Take Religion Seriously

Don’t bother to read this one if you’re already satisfyingly engaged with a religious tradition.

Now that we’re alone, here’s where a lot of you stand when it comes to religion: It isn’t for you. You don’t mind if other people are devout, but you don’t get it. Smart people don’t believe that stuff anymore.

I can be sure that is what many of you think because your generation of high-IQ, college-educated young people, like mine 50 years ago, has been as thoroughly socialized to be secular as your counterparts in preceding generations were socialized to be devout. Some of you grew up with parents who weren’t religious, and you’ve never given religion a thought. Others of you followed the religion of your parents as children but left religion behind as you were socialized by college.

By socialized, I don’t mean that you studied theology under professors who persuaded you that Thomas Aquinas was wrong. You didn’t study theology at all. None of the professors you admired were religious. When the topic of religion came up, they treated it dismissively or as a subject of humor. You went along with the zeitgeist.

I am describing my own religious life from the time I went to Harvard until my late 40s. At that point, my wife, prompted by the birth of our first child, had found a religious tradition in which she was comfortable, Quakerism, and had been attending Quaker meetings for several years. I began keeping her company and started reading on religion. I still describe myself as an agnostic, but my unbelief is getting shaky.

Taking religion seriously means work. If you’re waiting for a road-to-Damascus experience, you’re kidding yourself. Getting inside the wisdom of the great religions doesn’t happen by sitting on beaches, watching sunsets and waiting for enlightenment. It can easily require as much intellectual effort as a law degree.

Even dabbling at the edges has demonstrated to me the depths of Judaism, Buddhism and Taoism. I assume that I would find similar depths in Islam and Hinduism as well. I certainly have developed a far greater appreciation for Christianity, the tradition with which I’m most familiar. The Sunday school stories I learned as a child bear no resemblance to Christianity taken seriously. You’ve got to grapple with the real thing.

Start by jarring yourself out of unreflective atheism or agnosticism. A good way to do that is to read about contemporary cosmology. The universe isn’t only stranger than we knew; it is stranger and vastly more unlikely than we could have imagined, and we aren’t even close to discovering its last mysteries. That reading won’t lead you to religion, but it may stop you from being unreflective.

Find ways to put yourself around people who are profoundly religious. You will encounter individuals whose intelligence, judgment and critical faculties are as impressive as those of your smartest atheist friends—and who also possess a disquieting confidence in an underlying reality behind the many religious dogmas.

They have learned to reconcile faith and reason, yes, but beyond that, they persuasively convey ways of knowing that transcend intellectual understanding. They exhibit in their own personae a kind of wisdom that goes beyond just having intelligence and good judgment.

Start reading religious literature. You don’t have to go back to Aquinas (though that wouldn’t be a bad idea). The past hundred years have produced excellent and accessible work, much of it written by people who came to adulthood as uninvolved in religion as you are.

5. Watch ‘Groundhog Day’ Repeatedly

The movie “Groundhog Day” was made more than two decades ago, but it is still smart and funny. It is also a brilliant moral fable that deals with the most fundamental issues of virtue and happiness, done with such subtlety that you really need to watch it several times.

By the end of ‘Groundhog Day,’ Bill Murray’s character has discovered the secrets of human happiness. Everett Collection

An egocentric TV weatherman played by Bill Murray is sent to Punxsutawney, Pa., to cover Groundhog Day. He hates the assignment, disdains the town and its people, and can’t wait to get back to Pittsburgh. But a snowstorm strikes, he’s stuck in Punxsutawney, and when he wakes up the next morning, it is Groundhog Day again. And again and again and again.

The director and co-writer Harold Ramis, whose death last month was mourned by his many fans, estimated that the movie has to represent at least 30 or 40 years’ worth of days. We see only a few dozen of them, ending when Bill Murray’s character has discovered the secrets of human happiness.

Without the slightest bit of preaching, the movie shows the bumpy, unplanned evolution of his protagonist from a jerk to a fully realized human being—a person who has learned to experience deep, lasting and justified satisfaction with life even though he has only one day to work with.

You could learn the same truths by studying Aristotle’s “Ethics” carefully, but watching “Groundhog Day” repeatedly is a lot more fun.

This essay is adapted from Mr. Murray’s new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life,” which will be published April 8 by Random House. He is the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Strengths Perspective: It’s More than Some Catchy Tagline • SJS

The Strengths Perspective: It’s More than Some Catchy Tagline • SJS.

Cayce Watson, LAPSW

Cayce Watson, LAPSW

Social Justice Solutions | Contributor

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The Strengths Perspective: It’s More than Some Catchy Tagline
Posted: 3/24/2014 9:30

One of the unique features of social work practice is the deliberate inclusion of strengths in assessment, intervention, and goal setting with clients. This framework, known as the Strengths Perspective, empowers individuals, families, organizations, and communities to discover their inner strengths and build on their natural environmental resources to thrive (Saleebey, 2000). Early in my career, I was determined that the strengths perspective would be my professional mantra. However, fast-forward several months into my first job, and it wasn’t too long before my mantra was being crushed underneath a laundry list of pathologies, deficits, and diagnoses. Many clinicians find it challenging to maintain a strengths focus in practice, because the orientation runs counter to the dominant pathology-driven models that identify and define clients as a set of symptoms and subsequent diagnoses (Saleebey, 2000). To some, a strengths focus may falsely appear like wishful thinking or even denial, however it is important to note that strengths-based practice does not ignore the very real problems clients face. This perspective simply chooses not to regulate individuals to a life that will always be less than it could or should be (Saleebey, 1996).

Recently, I conducted a strengths seeking exercise with a group of undergraduate social work students, and the results were very interesting. The assignment was simple. Students were told to interview a partner and explore as many details as possible about a problem. After ten minutes, they were going strong, but I asked them to switch gears and gather just as many details from their partner about something that was going well. Less than two minutes in, they were stumped. Seeking strengths proved to be more difficult than they ever imagined. I wondered, “How can something so foundational to our practice be so challenging for us?” The strengths perspective is not just some catchy social work tagline. It is a purposeful orientation that requires considerable efforts on the part of the practitioner and the client. The truth is- the lens by which we view the world is critical, and we are an incredibly problem focused society. Saleebey (2008) describes this as a “cultural preoccupation and fascination with pathology, problems, moral and interpersonal aberrations, violence, and victimization” (p. 3). We see this phenomenon play out every day. It is embedded in media reports and most often in the language society uses to describe our clients. There is no doubt that we work with clients who are broken and battered. Clients bear the scars of poverty, depression, racism, homelessness, addiction, and trauma. Often these battles produce feelings of defeat, worthlessness, and shame. These problems are real and painful, but how can we empower clients if we view them within the same vein as they view themselves? It is our job to instill hope, power, choice, and inherent worth.

In The Strengths Perspective: Putting Possibility and Hope to Work in Our Practice, Saleebey relates a strengths approach in social work practice to CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation- breathing for someone until they can breathe for themselves. Within his strengths framework, this concept translates to believing in someone until they can believe in themselves. He uses CPR to encourage and remind practitioners to explore clients from the following strengths orientation (p.3).

C-capacities, competencies, courage, and character
P-promise, positive expectations, purpose, and potential
R-resources, resilience, relationships, resolve, and reserves

Another useful tool for clinicians devoted to seeking strengths amid adversity is Clay Graybeal’s ROPES (Resources Options Possibilities Exceptions Solutions) model. This clever acronym assists practitioners in shifting the emphasis of psychosocial assessments from being pathology driven to ones highlighting strengths, choices, and solutions (Graybeal, 2001). Graybeal (2001) suggests, “When the practitioner feels stuck, uninspired, or unable to locate useful strengths, ROPES, as a simple mnemonic device, can provide direction” (p. 237). If social workers consistently seek out and explore these core elements with clients, we can transform our focus from problems to possibilities. This enables us to better utilize the client’s interpersonal and environmental resources in accomplishing treatment goals and sustaining positive change. It is true that social workers will continue to see client problems because of the nature of the work that we do. The problems are easy to see, but can we move past the problems and envision a future for our clients of possibility and hope? Can we challenge colleagues and other practitioners to describe clients with positive language that consistently supports dignity and worth? Can we advocate for social policies that enable individuals, families, and communities to thrive and succeed? I believe we can. I am not in denial of the struggles that lie before me, but I choose to see my client as someone who is worthy of my respect, capable of change, and resilient. I am prepared to be my client’s equal and together we will walk hand in hand through her own figurative hell, until she emerges stronger, wiser, and empowered.

Written by: Cayce Watson, MSSW, LAPSW

‘Seinfeld Strategy’ Can Help You Stop Procrastinating

Jerry Seinfeld is one of the most successful comedians of all-time.

He is regarded as one of the “Top 100 Comedians of All-Time” by Comedy Central. He was also the co-creator and co-writer of Seinfeld, the long-running sitcom which has received numerous awards and was claimed to have the “Top TV Episode of All-Time” as rated by TV Guide.

Seinfeld reached his peak in earnings when he made $267 million dollars in 1998. (Yes, that was in one year. No, that’s not a typo.) A full 10 years later, in 2008, Seinfeld was still pulling in a cool $85 million per year.

By almost any measure of wealth, popularity, and critical acclaim, Jerry Seinfeld is among the most successful comedians, writers, and actors of his generation.

However, what is most impressive about Seinfeld’s career isn’t the awards, the earnings, or the special moments — it’s the remarkable consistency of it all. Show after show, year after year, he performs, creates, and entertains at an incredibly high standard. Jerry Seinfeld produces with a level of consistency that most of us wish we could bring to our daily work.

Compare his results to where you and I often find ourselves. We want to create, but struggle to do so. We want to exercise, but fail to find motivation. Wanting to achieve our goals, but — for some reason or another — we still procrastinate on them.

What’s the difference? What strategies does Jerry Seinfeld use to beat procrastination and consistently produce quality work? What does he do each day that most people don’t?

I’m not sure about all of his strategies, but I recently discovered a story that revealed one of the secrets behind Seinfeld’s incredible productivity, performance, and consistency.

Let’s talk about that what he does and how you can use the “Seinfeld Strategy” to eliminate procrastination and actually achieve your goals.

Related: Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

The “Seinfeld Strategy”

Brad Isaac was a young comedian starting out on the comedy circuit. One fateful night, he found himself in a club where Jerry Seinfeld was performing. In an interview on Lifehacker, Isaac shared what happened when he caught Seinfeld backstage and asked if he had “any tips for a young comic.”

Here’s how Isaac described the interaction with Seinfeld…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”

You’ll notice that Seinfeld didn’t say a single thing about results.

It didn’t matter if he was motivated or not. It didn’t matter if he was writing great jokes or not. It didn’t matter if what he was working on would ever make it into a show. All that mattered was “not breaking the chain.”

And that’s one of the simple secrets behind Seinfeld’s remarkable productivity and consistency. For years, the comedian simply focused on “not breaking the chain.”

Let’s talk about how you can use the Seinfeld Strategy in your life…

How to Stop Procrastinating

Top performers in every field — athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists — they are all more consistent than their peers. They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.

While most people get demotivated and off-track after a bad performance, a bad workout, or simply a bad day at work, top performers settle right back into their pattern the next day.

The Seinfeld Strategy works because it helps to take the focus off of each individual performance and puts the emphasis on the process instead. It’s not about how you feel, how inspired you are, or how brilliant your work is that day. Instead, it’s just about “not breaking the chain.”

All you have to do to apply this strategy to your own life is pick up a calendar (here’s an inexpensive one ) and start your chain.

Related: 3 Time Management Tips That Will Improve Your Health and Productivity 

A Word of Warning

There is one caveat with the Seinfeld Strategy. You need to pick a task that is meaningful enough to make a difference, but simple enough that you can get it done.

It would be wonderful if you could write 10 pages a day for your book, but that’s not a sustainable chain to build. Similarly, it sounds great in theory to be able to deadlift like a maniac every day, but in practice you’ll probably be overtrained and burnt out.

So step one is to choose a task that is simple enough to be sustainable. At the same time, you have to make sure that your actions are meaningful enough to matter.

For example, researching good jokes each day is simple, but you’re never going to write a joke by merely researching. That’s why the process of writing is a better choice. Writing can actually produce a meaningful result, even when it’s done in small doses.

Similarly, doing 10 pushups per day could be simple and meaningful depending on your level of fitness. It will actually make you stronger. Meanwhile, reading a fitness book each day is simple, but it won’t actually get you in better shape.

Choose tasks that are simple to maintain and capable of producing the outcome you want.

Another way of saying this is to focus on actions and not motions, which is a concept that I explained in this article: The Mistake That Smart People Make

Mastery Follows Consistency

The central question that ties our community together — and what I try to write about every Monday and Thursday — is “how do you live a healthy life?” This includes not merely nutrition and exercise, but also exploration and adventure, art and creativity, and connection and community.

But no matter what topic we’re talking about, they all require consistency. No matter what your definition is of a “healthy life,” you’ll have to battle procrastination to make it a reality. Hopefully, the Seinfeld Strategy helps to put that battle in perspective.

Don’t break the chain on your workouts and you’ll find that you get fit rather quickly.

Don’t break the chain in your business and you’ll find that results come much faster.

Don’t break the chain in your artistic pursuits and you’ll find that you will produce creative work on a regular basis.

So often, we assume that excellence requires a monumental effort and that our lofty goals demand incredible doses of willpower and motivation. But really, all we need is dedication to small, manageable tasks. Mastery follows consistency.

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Free Online Yoga Videos – Classes and Poses | DoYogaWithMe.com.

 
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DEPRESSION: An amazing cartoon strip!

deep … artistic … funny.

Rory

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.ca/

 

I remember being endlessly entertained by the adventures of my toys. Some days they died repeated, violent deaths, other days they traveled to space or discussed my swim lessons and how I absolutely should be allowed in the deep end of the pool, especially since I was such a talented doggy-paddler.

I didn’t understand why it was fun for me, it just was.

But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to access that expansive imaginary space that made my toys fun. I remember looking at them and feeling sort of frustrated and confused that things weren’t the same.

I played out all the same story lines that had been fun before, but the meaning had disappeared. Horse’s Big Space Adventure transformed into holding a plastic horse in the air, hoping it would somehow be enjoyable for me. Prehistoric Crazy-Bus Death Ride was just smashing a toy bus full of dinosaurs into the wall while feeling sort of bored and unfulfilled.  I could no longer connect to my toys in a way that allowed me to participate in the experience.

Depression feels almost exactly like that, except about everything.

At first, though, the invulnerability that accompanied the detachment was exhilarating. At least as exhilarating as something can be without involving real emotions.

The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.  I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn’t have to feel them anymore.

But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there’s a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck. Cognitively, you might know that different things are happening to you, but they don’t feel very different.

Which leads to horrible, soul-decaying boredom.

I tried to get out more, but most fun activities just left me existentially confused or frustrated with my inability to enjoy them.

Months oozed by, and I gradually came to accept that maybe enjoyment was not a thing I got to feel anymore. I didn’t want anyone to know, though. I was still sort of uncomfortable about how bored and detached I felt around other people, and I was still holding out hope that the whole thing would spontaneously work itself out. As long as I could manage to not alienate anyone, everything might be okay!

However, I could no longer rely on genuine emotion to generate facial expressions, and when you have to spend every social interaction consciously manipulating your face into shapes that are only approximately the right ones, alienating people is inevitable.

Everyone noticed.

It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are…

At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they’ll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face. And it keeps going like that until you’re having this weird argument where you’re trying to convince the person that you are far too hopeless for hope just so they’ll give up on their optimism crusade and let you go back to feeling bored and lonely by yourself.

And that’s the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn’t always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn’t even something — it’s nothing. And you can’t combat nothing. You can’t fill it up. You can’t cover it. It’s just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.

The problem might not even have a solution. But you aren’t necessarily looking for solutions. You’re maybe just looking for someone to say “sorry about how dead your fish are” or “wow, those are super dead. I still like you, though.”

I started spending more time alone.

Perhaps it was because I lacked the emotional depth necessary to panic, or maybe my predicament didn’t feel dramatic enough to make me suspicious, but I somehow managed to convince myself that everything was still under my control right up until I noticed myself wishing that nothing loved me so I wouldn’t feel obligated to keep existing.

It’s a strange moment when you realize that you don’t want to be alive anymore. If I had feelings, I’m sure I would have felt surprised. I have spent the vast majority of my life actively attempting to survive. Ever since my most distant single-celled ancestor squiggled into existence, there has been an unbroken chain of things that wanted to stick around.

Yet there I was, casually wishing that I could stop existing in the same way you’d want to leave an empty room or mute an unbearably repetitive noise.

That wasn’t the worst part, though. The worst part was deciding to keep going.

When I say that deciding to not kill myself was the worst part, I should clarify that I don’t mean it in a retrospective sense. From where I am now, it seems like a solid enough decision. But at the time, it felt like I had been dragging myself through the most miserable, endless wasteland, and — far in the distance — I had seen the promising glimmer of a slightly less miserable wasteland. And for just a moment, I thought maybe I’d be able to stop and rest. But as soon as I arrived at the border of the less miserable wasteland, I found out that I’d have to turn around and walk back the other way.

Soon afterward, I discovered that there’s no tactful or comfortable way to inform other people that you might be suicidal. And there’s definitely no way to ask for help casually.

I didn’t want it to be a big deal. However, it’s an alarming subject. Trying to be nonchalant about it just makes it weird for everyone.

I was also extremely ill-prepared for the position of comforting people. The things that seemed reassuring at the time weren’t necessarily comforting for others.

I had so very few feelings, and everyone else had so many, and it felt like they were having all of them in front of me at once. I didn’t really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.

The next few weeks were a haze of talking to relentlessly hopeful people about my feelings that didn’t exist so I could be prescribed medication that might help me have them again.

And every direction was bullshit for a really long time, especially up. The absurdity of working so hard to continue doing something you don’t like can be overwhelming. And the longer it takes to feel different, the more it starts to seem like everything might actually be hopeless bullshit.

My feelings did start to return eventually. But not all of them came back, and they didn’t arrive symmetrically.

I had not been able to care for a very long time, and when I finally started being able to care about things again, I HATED them. But hatred is technically a feeling, and my brain latched onto it like a child learning a new word.

Hating everything made all the positivity and hope feel even more unpalatable. The syrupy, over-simplified optimism started to feel almost offensive.

Thankfully, I rediscovered crying just before I got sick of hating things.  I call this emotion “crying” and not “sadness” because that’s all it really was. Just crying for the sake of crying. My brain had partially learned how to be sad again, but it took the feeling out for a joy ride before it had learned how to use the brakes or steer.

At some point during this phase, I was crying on the kitchen floor for no reason. As was common practice during bouts of floor-crying, I was staring straight ahead at nothing in particular and feeling sort of weird about myself. Then, through the film of tears and nothingness, I spotted a tiny, shriveled piece of corn under the refrigerator.

I don’t claim to know why this happened, but when I saw the piece of corn, something snapped. And then that thing twisted through a few permutations of logic that I don’t understand, and produced the most confusing bout of uncontrollable, debilitating laughter that I have ever experienced.

I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

My brain had apparently been storing every unfelt scrap of happiness from the last nineteen months, and it had impulsively decided to unleash all of it at once in what would appear to be an act of vengeance.

That piece of corn is the funniest thing I have ever seen, and I cannot explain to anyone why it’s funny. don’t even know why. If someone ever asks me “what was the exact moment where things started to feel slightly less shitty?” instead of telling a nice, heartwarming story about the support of the people who loved and believed in me, I’m going to have to tell them about the piece of corn. And then I’m going to have to try to explain that no, really, it was funny. Because, see, the way the corn was sitting on the floor… it was so alone… and it was just sitting there! And no matter how I explain it, I’ll get the same, confused look. So maybe I’ll try to show them the piece of corn – to see if they get it. They won’t. Things will get even weirder.

Anyway, I wanted to end this on a hopeful, positive note, but, seeing as how my sense of hope and positivity is still shrouded in a thick layer of feeling like hope and positivity are bullshit, I’ll just say this: Nobody can guarantee that it’s going to be okay, but — and I don’t know if this will be comforting to anyone else — the possibility exists that there’s a piece of corn on a floor somewhere that will make you just as confused about why you are laughing as you have ever been about why you are depressed. And even if everything still seems like hopeless bullshit, maybe it’s just pointless bullshit or weird bullshit or possibly not even bullshit.

I don’t know.
But when you’re concerned that the miserable, boring wasteland in front of you might stretch all the way into forever, not knowing feels strangely hope-like.
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Top 50 health apps: Body&Soul

Top 50 health apps – body+soul.

These are pretty good start .  .  . good ratings.

for PMS, meditation, relaxation, exercise, and more.

Rory

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By Charmaine Yabsley & Maureen Shelley

Maintaining your health, fitness and happiness goals is only a click away…

We review 50 of the best health and fitness apps you need to download, for a healthier and happier you
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Meditation: lasting effects on brain functioning

Meditation may have lasting positive effects on brain functioning – Syracuse natural health | Examiner.com.

 

In a news release on Nov. 12, 2012 Massachusetts General Hospital has reported:Meditation appears to produce enduring changes in emotional processing in the brain.It has been found in a new study that participating in an 8-week meditation training program can have measurable effects on how the brain functions, even when someone is not actively meditating. Researchers have also found differences in those effects based on the specific type of meditation practiced.

Healthy adults with no experience meditating participated in 8-week courses in either mindful attention meditation, which is the most commonly studied form that focuses on developing attention and awareness of breathing, thoughts and emotions, and compassion meditation, which is a less-studied form that includes methods which are designed to develop loving kindness and compassion for oneself and for others. A control group also participated in an 8-week health education course.

Researcher Gaëlle Desbordes, PhD, has said, “The two different types of meditation training our study participants completed yielded some differences in the response of the amygdala – a part of the brain known for decades to be important for emotion – to images with emotional content. This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state.”

Desbordes has explained, “We think these two forms of meditation cultivate different aspects of mind. Since compassion meditation is designed to enhance compassionate feelings, it makes sense that it could increase amygdala response to seeing people suffer. Increased amygdala activation was also correlated with decreased depression scores in the compassion meditation group, which suggests that having more compassion towards others may also be beneficial for oneself.” Overall, the results of this study have been consistent with the hypothesis that meditation may result in enduring, beneficial changes in brain function, especially in the area of emotional processing.

Why It’s So Hard to Find Your Life’s Purpose

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/douglas-labier/life-purpose_b_862192.html

Every being is intended to be on earth for a certain purpose.”
— Sa’di, 12th Century Persian poet

I’m often asked, “Why can’t I find the purpose of my life?” Over the decades I’ve heard many men and women — whether they’re psychotherapy patients working to build healthier lives or business executive trying to create healthier leadership — say at some point that they don’t know what they’re really here, for, on this planet. They’re not necessarily religious or spiritually inclined, but they feel a longing for that “certain something” that defines and integrates their lives.

Many turn to the various books and programs purport to identify their life’s purpose, but most come away dissatisfied. No closer than they were before, they identify with Bono’s plaintive cry in the U2’s song, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

And yet, many do find and live in harmony with their life’s purpose. Here are some of my observations about why many don’t, and how they differ from those who do.

First, I think everyone feels a pull towards some defining purpose to his or her life, no matter how much it may have become shrouded over along the way. In fact, you can say that all forms of life, all natural phenomena, have some purpose. There’s always movement or evolution towards some kind of outcome or fulfillment — whether it’s a tree that produces fruit or clouds that form to produce rain. But we humans become so enraptured by our daily activity, engagements, goals and so forth, that our awareness of our own unique life purpose is easily dimmed.

And there are consequences to not knowing or finding your purpose. I often see men
and women who’ve become successful in their work or relationships — their outer lives — and yet they feel hollow, empty, unfulfilled. They describe feeling “off-track” in some way, or incomplete, despite a conventionally successful life. Sometimes they wonder if they’ve been on the “wrong” path all along — chosen the wrong career, or the wrong life partner. Or that perhaps they haven’t realized that their chosen path could be more meaningful or purposeful to them, if they let it. Moreover, they wonder how you can tell the difference?

One thing is clear: The consequences of not finding your purpose include chronic, lingering dissatisfaction; an absence of inner peace and a sense of not being fully in sync with your inner self. That’s because your true inner self knows that your life purpose is out of sync with your outer life. The latter is often a false self, but you’ve identified with it because it’s been so rewarding to your ego.

I think most people retain at least a glimmer of awareness of their life’s purpose within their inner being. It often feels like a leaning, an inclination, that continues to pull at you. Sometimes is right in front of your eyes but you don’t allow yourself to see it, like when you’re hunting for your missing keys and then discover that they’ve been right in front of you the whole time. For example, an investment advisor found himself doing more and more work with charity organizations. He finally realized that what he felt most in sync with was hands-on work helping people. That was the part he enjoyed about his work, not the money managing per se. Helping people was his true calling, and it was staring him in the face the whole time.

Those who experience a clear inclination but don’t pursue or fulfill it remain incomplete and dissatisfied. But it’s important not to confuse seeking happiness with finding your purpose. Happiness is what you experience in the daily flow of life — the highs and lows that are situational. They will fluctuate. But purpose is deeper. It’s more of an underlying sense of peace and fulfillment overall, a sense of integration and continuous unfoldment of your being. It transcends everyday ups and downs, the disappointments or successes, even. When you’re living in accordance with your life’s purpose, you view all of the above as part of what you encounter along the road. They don’t distract you from that larger vision, your ideal, which is like a magnet steadily pulling you towards it.

Themes Of People Who Find Their Purpose

There are commonalities among those who find their true purpose for being. One major theme is that they aren’t very preoccupied with self-interest, in their ego-investments in what they do. That can sound contradictory. How can you find your life purpose if you’re not focused on yourself? The fact is, when you’re highly focused on yourself, with getting your goals or needs met — whether in your work or relationships — your purpose becomes obscured. Your ego covers it, like clouds blocking the sun. Self-interest, or ego in this sense, is part of being human, of course. It’s something that requires effort and consciousness to move through and let go of, so you don’t become transfixed by it, as the Sirens sought to do to Ulysses.

Letting go of self-interest opens the door to recognizing your true self, more clearly, so you can see whether it’s joined with your outer life and creates a sense of purpose — or clashes with it. Knowing who you are inside — your true values, secret desires, imagination; your capacity for love, empathy, generosity — all relate to and inform your life purpose.

A second theme of those who discover their life purpose is that they use their mental and creative energies to serve something larger than themselves. That is, they’re like the lover who simply gives love for its own sake, without regard for getting something in return, without asking to be loved back or viewing his actions as a transaction or investment. That can be hard to imagine in our mercantile society, but giving your mental, emotional and creative energy from the heart comes naturally when you serve something larger than your self-interest. It beckons you; it calls forth your spirit.

This theme of service to something larger than your ego, larger than “winning” the fruits of what you’re aiming for, takes many forms in people. For some, their service and sense of purpose is embodied in the work that they do every day. That is, what they do reflects the paradox of not directly aiming to achieve something, because doing so only fuels the ego. This theme is described by John Kay, former Director of Oxford’s Business School, in “Obliquity.” There, he shows examples of achieving business or career goals by pursuing them indirectly; by deliberately not pursuing them. That is, too much self-interest tends to undermine success. It’s the difference between passion in the service of creating a new product, rather than trying to capture a big market share from the product.

Service towards something beyond ego is always visible in those who’ve found their purpose, whether younger and older. Sometimes it’s by conscious intent. For example, letting go of a previous path when they awaken to it’s not being in sync with their inner self. Sometimes it’s triggered by unanticipated events that answers an inner yearning

One example is a 20-something woman who, disenchanted with college, returned home and happen to join up with some other musician and artist friends. That led, in turn, to creating a nonprofit organization, the GoodMakers Street Team, a group of passionate young adults who are bringing positive change to communities. Older people are also discovering a newly-found life purpose. For example, the rise of “encore careers” and projects or engagements that they discover are more in sync with their inner selves; and perhaps have lingered in the background of their lives for years.

Sometimes one’s purpose is awakened by a tragedy one learns about, such as person who become moved by victims of torture and discovered his life’s purpose in helping them. Or, a tragedy one experiences, like John Walsh, whose nationally-known work in criminal justice was spurred by the murder of his young son.

Some Guidelines

If you work towards weakening the stranglehold of self-interest, you can take an important step towards discovering your life’s purpose: Learning from your choices and way of life. That is, they can give you important feedback about the path you’ve been on, in relation to your deeper life purpose.

    1. Begin by examining what you’re currently doing in your choices, way of life, and commitments, looking from “outside” yourself. Try to discern what the outcomes — whether successes or failures — reveal to you about your inner self. Look for where there seems to be resonance or not. That is, don’t try to “find” your purpose by tweaking or fine-tuning what you’ve been doing in your work, relationships or anything else. Instead, let all of that teach you what it can. That is, look at what it tells you about your longings, your inner vision and predilections that you might be trying to express through your outer life, even if the latter may be an incorrect vehicle.
    1. When you do feel a pull towards some purpose, activity or goal that you feel reflects your inner self, then pursue it fully and vigorously, and with great intent. Keep looking for the feedback your actions give you along the way. It doesn’t matter if your purpose is something more concrete or more spiritual. If you pursue it with minimal self-interest, with “obliquity,” you will learn from what happens if it’s the true path for you or not.
  1. Infuse all of your actions with a spirit of giving, of service; in effect, with love for what you’re engaging with. That includes all the people you interact with, as well. The more you consciously infuse your thoughts, emotions and behavior with positive, life-affirming energy – kindness, compassion, generosity, justice – you’re keeping your ego at bay and you’re able to see your true purpose with greater clarity.

Of course, this is hard, and you might encounter opposition from cultural pressures or others who have their own interests at stake. Keep in mind, here, something Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.

The Sufi spiritual leader Hazrat Inayat Khan, who brought his teachings to the U.S. and Western Europe in the early 1900s, described the pull of your purpose in an interesting way. He wrote that one

…may suddenly think during the night, “I must go to the north,” and in the morning, he sets out on his journey. He does not know why, he does not know what he is to accomplish there, he only knows that he must go. By going there, he finds something that he has to do and sees that it was the hand of destiny pushing him towards the accomplishment of that purpose which inspired him to go to the north.

I find that men and women who set out to “go north” and awaken to their life purpose radiate a calm inner strength, inspiration, power and success in whatever they do with their lives. It radiates to all around them.

* * * * *Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., a business psychologist and psychotherapist, is Director of the Center for Progressive Development in Washington, D.C. You may email him at dlabier@CenterProgressive.org

YouTube Movie – How Will We Love?

YouTube – How Will We Love?.

 

From the Emmy nominated series, Song of Songs, comes the feature film “How Will We Love?”. This documentary explores romantic love, relationships, and the challenges and rewards of long term commitment.

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From the Emmy nominated series, Song of Songs, comes the feature film “How Will We Love?”. This documentary explores romantic love, relationships, and the challenges and rewards of long term commitment.