Intentionally living in alignment with our deepest calling leads to greater fulfillment and happiness in life. This post focuses on the first in this three step process: illuminate and distill the heart's calling.
Illuminating the heart's calling is really a lifetime expedition, but setting aside time on a regular basis to check in with our heart is a good practice to reveal new truths, deeper callings and possible misalignment with our values.
As I mentioned in the last post, I experienced a values crisis during our latest visit to Thailand. We've been engaging with and learning about elephants on each trip, but this last one really challenged me--enough to shift into action. I'll be sharing this experience as an example to work through sowing the seeds of intention, beginning with the first, Illuminate and distill the heart's calling.
“A highly developed values system is like a compass. It serves as a guide to point you in the right direction when you are lost.” ~Idowu Koyenikan
Durian seed sprout. Durian is a large, highly aromatic and popular fruit in Thailand.
(Jim and I returned from Thailand just this past week. The return was rough for us both as we were dealing with ongoing colds, flus, and the stark reality of coming back to our complex lives after being abroad for two months. These are luxury problems, I know! During our travels, many seeds were planted in my heart. You can read more about our trips: 2016-17 and 2017-18.)
While the time for setting New Year's resolutions has passed, sowing seeds of intention can be done anytime and any season.
Our recent weather in Lake County isn't reflecting it, but we're still in the 'wintering over' stage of the earth's seasonal creation cycle. Seeds, while not visible, are deep in the earth's nourishing embrace, readying to germinate. It's a perfect time to mirror the outer stillness of winter, and listen for our heart's innermost desires.
We all have seeds germinating from our heart's deepest desires just ready to emerge. How can we best cultivate the conditions for their successful arising and tend to them for their eventual fruition?
Research tells us that while about 50% of our happiness is genetically determined and 10% is tied to our circumstances, about 40% of our happiness is influenced by our thoughts, actions and behaviors. We talked about loving kindness practice being one way we can grow our happiness in the last post. but there are many other proven ways that we can engage in that grow our contentment and delight in life.
In the last post, I noted that Positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky concluded that a large portion of our happiness (40%) depends on our daily activities. Happify Daily reports that same 40% as being controlled by our thoughts, actions and behaviors. This, in essence, puts a good chunk of our happiness in our own hands, because have influence over our thoughts, actions, activities and behaviors.
As we learned in the previous blog, our bodies have a built in reaction to perceived threats. Tension builds and we have an enormous storehouse of energy that can be used to fend off immediate danger.
But in today's world of stress, we rarely have the need for the physical strength we accumulate, and unless we physically expend that energy, our bodies remain bathed in chemicals and reactions that can actually cause harm to us in the long run.
How then can we make stress be a force for good in our lives?
Ribbons of intention placed during Tri Uplifting: Lake County 2016 at Rabbit Hill, Middltetown, California. There are three McNab Cypress trees protected by this fencing and our intentions. Trees dontated by Lake County Land Trust and are seedllings from those destroyed in the Rocky Fire of 2015. (Photo credit: Melissa Kinsel)
(At our recent Tri Uplifting: Lake County 2016 I gave a talk and guided visioning session for mindfully uplifting our community in Middletown, CA. I was encouraged to share the talk as the information and ideas can be used for any community.)
In order to create an uplifted community, we must first do some exploration--Firstly, what is uplifted community? Inspired? Thriving? What does it look like? What does it mean? What creates it? What are the conditions needed for it emerge? To be sustained? How will we know we've reached it? In other words, what will we receive/experience when we have it? How do we get there?