I focus a lot on nutrition and fitness on this blog, but I also am very aware of the importance of spiritual and emotional health. You can be running marathons and following a strict paleo diet, but if you’re in a job you hate, a toxic relationship, or in an unhealthy situation, those efforts in the gym and kitchen will be canceled out. Today I want to take some time to delve deeper into evaluating our emotional health, and thinking about what changes can be made to improving our overall wellness.
This Fall I became part of a Christian-based women’s group called MOPs (Moms of Pre-Schoolers). I initially joined because twice a month while the moms meet, our children are in classrooms according to age, where they read bible stories and complete arts and craft projects related to the story. I didn’t feel my 2 year old was getting any sort of exposure to God in a classroom setting (our church only offers a playtime nursery for his age group), so I thought this was a great alternative. Little did I know that this would come to be more of a bi-monthly meeting that causes me some much needed self-reflective time, while being surrounded by the strongest, most grounded women I have been around in a long time, if not, ever.
Our meeting this week featured an inspiring woman who is a mother of 4 and has been a director of children’s ministries for over 17 years. She also travels to countries such as Islam for 6-month long missionaries, so she has a wealth of knowledge about raising children, giving back to society, and how to identify your own path in life. Her speech was much more of a conversation than anything else (so refreshing!) and did not include a PowerPoint presentation (hooray!) She walked us through a series of self-reflective questions that urged us to define who we are, why we are here on earth, and how can we better serve our purpose for being here. Pretty deep for a Thursday morning, but it’s the questions everyone should be asking themselves every year, if not every few months. A self-inventory of sorts, but one that really makes you consider if the path you are following truly fits your own code of ethics and your personal goals. Do you even have any goals for yourself, your individual children, and your family as a whole?
Sometimes life has a way of numbing us to our true feelings–a natural defense or survival mode to tolerate unhappy circumstances. I know all too well that if you start letting your resentments and anger about your job or situation creep in, you gradually change your perspective, and suddenly everything is awful about that job or situation. Then it can extend to other corners of your life. Attitude is everything. However, positive people need to be in positive environments or even their sunny skies start to get clouded up. Ask yourself, am I content? I’m not saying you need to be skipping through the wildflowers and singing showtunes everyday, but most nights when you go to bed, do you feel satisfied with your accomplishments of the day? If you find yourself always feeling defeated, like a sell out, or a fraud then start reconsidering the direction you’re taking in life. Life is short, and stress is the number one cause of pretty much every major health disease, so this is a very serious question to ask yourself!
A Whooooo are a yoooou? ~trippy caterpiller in Alice in Wonderland
When the speaker allowed us 2 minutes to write down how we define ourselves, I basically wrote my Twitter bio with the addition of my relationships to people: mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend. When the speaker said time was up, she read what she had written about herself–ALL of her items were relationships. I blushed, a bit embarrassed and my first thought was, “duh, of course, I should’ve known that’s what she was aiming for.” But in thinking about it more, is it wrong to define ourselves by our job? I don’t think so–especially when your job title helps carve a part of your personality and contribution to society. For example, when I wrote “Licensed Massage Therapist,” I wrote it with pride. To me, this means that I am committed to helping heal people; to playing a role in the preventative health community; and to being in a positive environment where people leave feeling better than when they came in. I also felt compelled to write, “former digital marketer” but that represents where I came from, and the new path I have chosen to take in my new career. What do your titles mean to you?
When you know who you are, you can plan your life more purposefully.
I’m not sure if the speaker came up with this quote on her own, or if she read it somewhere, but it really touched me deeply when she said it. This time last year I was completing a multi-year journey of plotting my escape from the world of advertising agencies, and I felt my life–or more specifically, my career–had little purpose. I was living life the way a girl from the suburbs, with a college degree, and a mortgage was expected to live, and not with any excited purpose of my own.
Everyone will have different outcomes when running through this self-reflective exercise. No one’s life is perfect, mine certainly isn’t, and taking inventories on even the small aspects of your life will inspire positive improvements overall. To me, this helped me see that now that I’m happy in my career choice, I can start focusing on other ways to be a productive member of society, and to work towards becoming a better person whom my son can be proud of.
And so, this is my long-winded way of recommending that you take some time to really evaluate where you are in life, what you did to get here, and how you plan on moving forward. Check your energy and positivity levels. Can you sustain those levels for 5, 10, 25 more years? Are you 30 and already counting down the years to retirement? What changes can you make that would set you more on the path to happiness and fulfillment?