How many of us spend most of our time (so at least 55%) doing something which nourishes our soul? For most of us that implies the question of whether or not we are nourishing our soul through what we do to make a living. Generally I don’t believe things are black or white, but in this case I have a feeling that they may be – that what you do either nourishes or saps your soul.
Do you love your work? Does it provide you with a deep sense of satisfaction? Do you have peace of mind knowing that you are giving the world all of your own unique amazingness? Do you wake up with a YES? If the answer to any of these is No (as it is for me), what you spend most of your time doing is probably depleting you rather than nourishing you. And as we all know, undernourishment leads to health issues, soul suffering and deathbed doom.
I want to know why so many of us are in this position. Why do we do things we dislike (or even loathe), that we know aren’t good for us, that don’t fit? There are of course the limiting ideas many of us grew up with about how to live and work (9-5, blue-collar/white-collar, something that requires a degree (or several), something that is validated by mainstream society etc.), and then there are all the messages we are surrounded by via the media and the folks who believe what the media tells them about how you’re lucky to have any kind of work at all, times are tough and all that.
It’s like this one, fixed version of reality that I am trying so hard to escape from, and yet I keep putting myself neatly back into the box of this reality, this life programme that is so alien to me that it sometimes makes me feel like I’m walking through a parallel dimension, looking around myself with wonder (and sadness) and asking myself how all these guys don’t see that they’ve put themselves in the box, that they’ve chosen the damn box, and that another reality is possible (yes, very Matrix, I know).
I think it’s to do with:
Big Question: If I continually put myself in situations that are not in alignment with who I am (and therefore unhealthy), how much do I really value myself? This question came to me yesterday and gave my heart a little wrench – I thought I was doing pretty good with the self-love and yet here was this huge question that brought a whispered Not very much in its wake, leaving me feeling immeasurably sad at the realisation that I am still not standing up for who I am in this very important area of my life. I am who I am. And whatever that is, it deserves to be loved and valued, first by me.
Another big reason for many of us is the big old dollar demon – we worry about not having enough money, that there isn’t enough generally, that scarcity prevails. This is delusional. There are heaps, tons, crazy amounts of money in the world; in fact crazy amounts of everything (except maybe oil) – the abundance of wealth is not the problem; the problem is our limiting beliefs.
When we look at where the money is right now, most of us get pretty upset. We feel that public funds are not being utilised in ways that serve us (or anyone apart from the guy spending it), and see the ethical vacuum within which most (all?!) big corporations operate, see the unbelievable inequalities in all countries that are taken as normal. It’s impossible to not be angry and upset about this big money because of the way it’s being used – but as long as we play the game (stay cogs in the machine, buy the GM foods and the fertilisers and the pills, remain silent and cowed and defeated) nothing will change. We have a responsibility to the earth, to our children, to ourselves to start playing by new rules, to change the way money is used in the world – to change the way we are in the world.
We do not have to “earn a living” – we deserve our life by the mere fact that we are. I know that sounds all woo-woo and newagey idealist but think about it this way: a lion deserves to live according to its lion nature because it was born a lion – it hunts, it sleeps, it plays, it procreates. It doesn’t need to “earn” the right to be a lion, it just is a lion. Why is it that we feel we have to “earn” the right to be who we are? Each of us has so much to contribute, so much value to offer to the world and to our communities; yet a lot of the time we never get to offer it because we’re so taken up with “earning” a living*.
This is where authenticity comes into play. We may feel that we are authentic in our engagement with other people – but how authentic are we in our actions? How often do we do something we don’t really want to do because we feel we “should”? I’m not trying to suggest that we should only ever do things we really want to do (although really, why shouldn’t that be possible?), but that another way to live exists. Everything that you dislike, someone else out there enjoys. There is enough diversity of interest and talent in the world to take care of everything – we’re just not made to fit into one limited box.
How often do you listen to that inner voice that tells you what you really need right now? A nap, a hug, some exercise, a book, a bath, a midnight snack? How often do you honour your needs? Many of us live in this perpetually rushed state where we feel like we just don’t have time right now, I’ll get to it later. But later never arrives. Life is short, and as such, urgent. It is urgent that we begin to live in line with who we really are. The abundance of chronic and auto-immune disease in the world right now is terrifying – we are so out of balance with life and ourselves that our systems refuse to live; they give us a big fat No, sometimes an acute No, where we have to come into alignment asap or die.
We don’t prioritise our own wellbeing enough. It shouldn’t have to take the diagnosis of a terminal illness for us to begin honouring ourselves. We deserve to be happy. We deserve to shine our light in the world. We deserve to listen to our souls, to love ourselves, to heal ourselves. The original meaning of the word deserve is “to devote oneself to” (from the latin deservire). What would a world look like in which we all devoted ourselves to our souls, to our deepest selves?
“What the world needs is people who have come alive” – Howard Thurman
Danielle LaPorte asks us “What is your medicine to the world that also heals you?”. This is what each of us needs to be doing, to heal the ourselves and the world, and to bring humanity into its full potential. Right now we are so far away from being what we could be, what all of us know in a tiny corner of our hearts is possible, a way of living together that we yearn for. All it takes is for each of us to find our way back to our light, and to fully dedicate ourselves to being who we are, in the world.
After all, that’s what life is, isn’t it? – A spark of magic that lights up a body for a little while and then moves on.
Let’s live in that magic flame while we’re here.
* For the Europeans among you, have a look at the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) initiative – I don’t think it’s the answer to all our problems but I think it would be a great start