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Issue 102

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In this issue ~~

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What Guides Your Life?

Nowadays, life often feels like we’re living in the middle of a whirlpool. We’re battered about by constant change and crisis. We turn on the news and hear frightening reports from every corner of the globe. We go on the Internet and see contradictory information about anything and everything.

In the midst of such a maelstrom, how can we effectively guide our lives and stay centered? How can we make good choices when we don’t know who or what we can rely on?

When we’re living with such instability and chaos, we have a choice: We can manage our lives by our passions or our problems.

When we manage life through our problems, we don’t have to think. We’re compelled to focus on “putting out the fires” caused by sickness, work crises, financial instability, dysfunctional relationships, fears and the like. We just take the next step to keep our heads above water. This may not be a pleasant existence, but it does create a sense of structure and direction for our lives.

But just getting by is not enough. Survival itself may feel like an accomplishment, but our dreams get lost in the bargain. Ultimately, it doesn’t make for a very fulfilling life.

To live our lives creatively, we need to make our passions a priority — our values and principles, the things that bring us joy and greater freedom, and our creative expression, whether it comes through an art form, a business, in-depth study of a subject or some other pursuit that makes you feel alive and excited.

There was a story going around the Internet a few years ago that went something like this: A professor had a big jar on his desk. He put several big rocks into the jar and asked his students if the jar was full. The students said “yes.” He then proceeded to add as many small rocks as he could. Again, the students said the jar was full. The professor then added pebbles, sand and water.

The moral of the story is that if the professor hadn’t put the big rocks in first, the jar would have been taken over by the small rocks, pebbles, sand and water. In the same way, if we don’t put our attention and energies into our passions first (the “big rocks”), our time and attention will be dominated by problems and crises (all the other stuff).

To live a life focused around the “big rocks,” we first need to discover what they are.

  • What are your values and principles?

Spend some time thinking about what’s important to you – creative expression, family and friends, being of service, living a healthy life, making choices that are aligned with your integrity, helping those in need. How can you live more in alignment with those values?

  • What are you passionate about?

Is there a cause that’s dear to you? Is there something that you would regret not doing? This could be a world cause, such as the environment or sustainable farming, or using your gifts and talents for personal gratification and as your contribution to the world.

  • What brings you joy?

Think of the things that you love – your work, the people in your life, creating something beautiful or delicious, immersing yourself in a hobby. How can you bring more of these into your life? When we make time for joy, we also have a greater sense of freedom and a zest for life.

When you’re in touch with these important aspects and focusing on them, problems and crises take their rightful place, rather than dominating your attention. Your life is richer and you follow a path that expresses your values, passions and joys, rather than just fixing what’s broken. And miraculously, when you’re living a joyous life, the problems just seem to get resolved. What a nice way to live!

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Action Challenge

Make a list of 100 things that bring you joy. What steps can you take to bring more of those things into your life?

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Wise Words

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances.”

~ Bruce Barton

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”

~ Woodrow Wilson

“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

~ Robert A. Heinlein

“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”

~ Anthony Robbins

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Bookshelf

(click on the book to see a description at Amazon.com)

A Question of Values: Six Ways We Make the Personal Choices That Shape Our Lives . . . Hunter Lewis

In Search of Values: 31 Strategies for Finding Out What Really Matters Most to You . . . Dr. Sidney B. Simon

What Matters Most: The Power of Living Your Values . . . Hyrum W. Smith

What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life . . . James Hollis

What's Next?: Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job . . . Kerry Hannon

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life . . . Rosamund Stone Zander & Benjamin Zander

The Practical Dreamer's Handbook: Finding the Time, Money, & Energy to Live the Life You Want to Live . . . Paul & Sarah Edwards

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It . . . Barbara Sher

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© 2010 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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