Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Finding Joy

"When process and destination are both tasty to you, the path to your North Star will unroll before your feet.  You'll enjoy the journey and when you fall, a stretcher will come down from grace and gather you up." —Martha Beck, Steering by Starlight

Steering by Starlight 

Most of you probably know I'm a huge fan of Martha Beck's books. They have been an inspirational and informative guide for my journey into aging. No doubt she's a wee bit younger than I am but she is an old soul in many ways, having been through so much in her life.

One of the most consistent challenges I face almost every day is staying focused on what's truly important to my purpose in life. I'm even fuzzy on the purpose a good bit of the time. But I have discovered and experienced the truth of what Martha Beck said in the above quote.

As long as we truly love, enjoy and thrive on what we are doing today, and in this moment, we will be on the path to fulfilling our destiny. It is when we succumb to our social self, the self that insists we really need to do something else that we really don't want to do, that we wander off in the wrong direction. You will find many more details about how to do this in her books.

She has a clever little self test that works terrifically well for me to help determine if the things you are doing are the things you were meant to do. She calls it  paying attention to feelings of "shackles on" and "shackles off". Begin by making a list of everything you are planning to do today. Then, one by one go through the list and think about each item. Imagine doing each thing. How does it make feel? Like you are in shackles? or light on your feet? If it's the former, ask yourself "do I have to do this?" and "why am I doing this?" "can I find a way to do this so that it does not feel shackles on?" As much as possible, choose "shackles off" and the process and the purpose of your life will indeed be tasty!

Martha Beck's books Finding Your Own North Star and Steering by Starlight are very helpful tools for discovering your purpose. I highly recommend them if you are struggling to find joy in your life. 

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