Often the place to look first relates to our personal wellbeing and how well we are caring for ourselves. Sometimes we need to examine what is not working in our life so we can understand what we *do* want. As we then make change in that direction, we ultimately will find peace, harmony and ease. Making a commitment to consciously focus on our wellbeing can guide us toward healthy stress-management techniques, and sources of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation when we need it the most. Investing in our wellbeing includes prioritizing our self-care, physical health, intellectual heath, and emotional health, as well as focusing on our own personal and spiritual growth. It also involves treating ourselves with compassion and kindness, and choosing to forgive and love ourselves.
When we care for ourselves in this way, we receive the energy and fuel we need in order to care for and fulfill our commitments and obligations to others. If we expend too much energy focusing only on our external relationships and are not also caring for our needs or focusing on our own self-care, we won’t have energy to be fully present in our relationships with others over the long term. Similarly, when we neglect our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs, we may have a difficult time devoting energy to or finding meaning in our work. Nourishing our body, heart, and spirit gives us the fuel we need to fully engage in all other areas of our life.
For most of us, our work and professional life consumes most of our time, attention, and energy. But we all deserve and need to take care of our personal and spiritual wellbeing, too. We need to nourish our body and nurture our soul so we don’t become depleted. Our spiritual path invites and encourages us to search for a deeper meaning and purpose for our life. What I’ve come to believe is that we have multiple levels of purpose that guide us through life.
- We have our over-arching, lifelong Divine purpose: why we are here on this Earth and the major life lessons we are here to learn. Our Divine purpose emerges slowly through our life experiences and our moments of pain, confusion, heartache, and struggle. It may take years to discover what our Divine purpose is and it may take us the rest of our life to fulfill it.
- We also have what many others commonly refer to as our life purpose. This describes what we’re here to do in relation to our career, education, volunteer work, social commitments or family life. It might describe how we are to help people, what we are to accomplish, and where we are to focus our time.
- And then we have everyday purpose: what brings a sense of purpose to our life on a daily basis. This purpose motivates our actions and guides our choices - it's what we do throughout the day – on purpose.
The various levels of purpose are intertwined and connected. No one else can tell us what our purpose is – it’s up to each one of us to discover that for ourselves. No matter what our purpose is, imperative to the process is ACTION. Each choice we make and each step we take gets us one step closer to understanding why we are here and how we are meant to serve.
The quality of our relationship with those people is impacted by how well we are taking care of our self. If we are feeling depleted, it is hard to be fully present with the ones we love. So the first place to start on our personal growth journey is often exploring our personal and spiritual wellbeing first, before we look to this area of relational wellbeing. But personal relationships are important. The amount of joy and fulfillment we feel in our life is impacted by the quality of our relationships with other people. We are relational beings and are wired to connect with others. Even those of us who enjoy our solitude need to connect with people sometimes.
Time is a gift that most of us take for granted. We get so caught up in the busyness of our daily lives that we may not realize how much time we’re spending on activities that don't really matter all that much and how little time we are spending with the people who matter most to us. Our priorities are reflected not by what we say, but by what we do. In other words, we might say that spending time with family or friends is one of our top priorities - but are we showing that in action? How much quality time are we spending with our loved ones? And the time we are spending with them - is it of good quality? Meaning, are we actively engaging in dialogue or shared activities, or are we sitting next to each other scrolling through our phones or watching television? Do we make a difference in the lives of others, and are we receiving the support we need from those around us? It's important to reflect on the status of our relationships and to made adjustments where needed.