When I work with patients, I always ask them whether they’re doing their life’s work, because I truly believe that how we spend most of our day, and whether it’s in line with our life’s work, affects our health. When I ask a woman if she’s doing her life’s work, way too often, she stares at me blankly.
So how can you tell? How do you know if you’re doing your life’s work? There’s no easy answer to that question other than “You just know.” But to give you a sense of what it feels like to discover and then commit to fulfilling your life’s work. I’ve created this list of signs for you.
The phrase “seeing the world through rose-colored glasses” is pretty common, but in case you haven’t heard it before, it means having a positive outlook on life.
Do you know how to use your proverbial rose-colored glasses?
How do you see the world around you? Do you see beauty, love, and happiness all around you, or do you find that the world is less than appealing to you? Do the negatives outweigh the positives for you?
Fact: finding beauty around you, in your every day life, makes for a happier and more self-confident you.
It’s true–and I can personally vouch for it.
For example, I posted this photo on Instagram during a recent snowstorm. Such a simple and every day sight to behold–but breathtaking at the same time. You just have to slow down and LOOK.
Bliss Mission: Find Beauty All Around You
Today, I challenge you to find beauty all around you in the world.
Find it in the faces of your children or friends, find it in your own back yard or at a local park. Look for beauty in even the most trying times. If you find yourself in traffic, notice the camaraderie you feel with your fellow travelers. Notice the scenery around you, the color of the sky. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, find beauty and be grateful.
I promise you that adopting this habit can only help to increase the joy in your life, and is one more step on your journey to personal bliss. What do you think?
Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy.
While it’s true that I care more about women making peace with their bodies than most people, and although I live my life committed to supporting women in liking who and what they see when they look in the mirror, I was one of the first in line to see Sex & The City II when it came out a few years ago.
Seems so shallow to admit that. Let’s face it ladies, as much as many of us love these four characters, they are not exactly representational of most women today – many of whom are struggling to take care of their children while working full time. But while Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda do not represent most women, they do represent something that makes my heart just sing. I fell in love with the characters from the get-go. I literally cried my way through the last episode of the series, and have watched every episode a few times each. The pretend world they occupy feels and looks so glamorous, and I love how they strut around exuding power in a way that feels sincere and effortless.
While I do like to look nice, I am not a shopper and I am not someone who goes crazy about fashion. But whenever I am trying on clothes, I make believe I am Carrie – my favorite character on the show. I am nothing like her, and yet she is my alter ego. I just love how she walks around NYC in her high heels and cool clothes.
My own “Carrie” moment
So yesterday, I am in Banana Republic and I put myself into Carrie mode. I see this pair of heels that are so fun, so cool, and so not me, and yet I had this feeling come over me, and suddenly I HAD TO HAVE THEM! I did not care what they cost, how high they were, how much they hurt – I just had to have them.
I wear a size 10 wide, and it is difficult to find shoes in my size. However, the store had a 10, and on my feet they went. They were too tight and so not right. I said to Michael, the gay guy helping me, “These shoes are so tight, but I want to be like Carrie.”
Michael cracked up. Then he looked at me very seriously and said, “Honey, beauty is painful.”
I said, “You are so right, and it is so unfair.”
Of course I got them. After all, they were on sale.
Does it have to hurt?
I care more about our insides than about how we look. I care about how we talk to ourselves every day, and I want to live in a world where we are less critical and more self-loving. I care more than anything about the obesity epidemic that plagues us, and I care about the fact that we are seduced by the beauty industry. I care that models starve themselves and that “beauty is painful.” Women – myself included – do all kinds of whacky things to make themselves look good at the expense of their health and their soul.
I am passionately committed to these causes. I so want to live in a world where beauty is no longer cruel. But I also have an inner Carrie who, in a perfect world, can still have sexy black high heels. It’s one of those great paradoxes that makes me who I am. I own both parts, and know they’re right. (I just wish the Carrie side didn’t have to hurt!)
What about you? Are you willing to suffer for beauty? Have you suffered long enough? Where along the continuum from inner beauty to outer glamor do you spend most of your time?
Life’s true tragedy is that, when someone dies, the misfortune is not only the death itself but also the untapped potential and unrealized dreams that die with them. This “compounded loss” happens more often than not. Far too many of us spend 100% of our time on only 10% of who we are today, and can be tomorrow.
“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many of us work eight hours per day, commute for at least one hour per day, spend at least two hours eating, watch TV for five hours each day and spend nearly two hours a day using a computer for leisure activity, such as online games, research or social media,” Riley notes. “That’s nearly 18 hours, which doesn’t even include the multiple hours needed for our evening slumber. Clearly, we spend more time on what we aren’tthan we do on who and what we are…and want to be.”
For high achievers in particular, there isn’t a problem understanding HOW to get things done but rather there are challenges balancing it all. So many successful people spend the majority of their time on one area of their life where they excel, but perpetually feel unfulfilled.
With this in mind, Riley offers these 9 methods to help high achievers tap into the other 90% of “who they are,” beyond “what they do,” and realize greater life balance, joy and fulfillment in kind:
Method 1: Healthy Living is about More Than Diet!
There is more to life than the race to achieve more money or a fancy job title. And, there is more to living healthfully than what food you ingest or what physical exercises you do.
Other lifestyle decisions, such as those related to marriage, parenting, and friendships, all factor into one’s healthy sense of self.
Healthy living requires being true to yourself and being truly “present” when you’re with loved ones. Healthy living is also a frame of mind.
If your thoughts are self-destructive, this negativity will manifest itself in your body through stress, anxiety and other adverse physical conditions, and can undermine your personal and professional relationships with others.
Method 2: Peace and a Positive Mind – Your Defender in the Face of Distractions
Cultivating and maintaining a peaceful life must be a goal of paramount importance. Distractions and life’s distresses both small and large will pull you away from this goal each and every time you allow it.
Your thoughts are the training ground and spring board for your overall disposition and perspective on life. Many accomplished people never pause to revel in or acknowledge their success. They are constantly striving for what’s next.
While not entirely a bad thing, when your desire to achieve becomes bigger than your desire to BE, your existence will be likened to a hamster running in an endless circle, never at peace and never at a point of rest.
Method 3: The Importance of Having a Giving Heart and Spirit
Most know that giving back to society and those in need is one of the most meaningful activities we can engage in. In fact, many very successful people believe that giving is directly tied to their continued success.
Having a giving heart and spirit not only creates more opportunities for you to provide for others, but doing so allows more opportunities for your continued success to manifest in your life, and others: what impacts one impacts us all.
Achievement and accomplishments come from the work of our hands and minds, but true success and fulfillment comes from giving of the heart.
Not just donating your time through charitable work or financial donations, but also allocating precious time to family and friends. Being present and accessible to loved ones is the ultimate gift for others…and yourself.
Method 4: Live in Your P.O.W.E.R ™
High achievers should strive to tap into their personal P.O.W.E.R., which is Perspective, Ownership, Wisdom, Engagement, and Reward. Perspective cultivates recognition of what is draining your life and what is enriching your life.
This leads to Ownership of your relationship with yourself and with others. It allows you to establish your personal boundaries and define what and where you are to give of yourself and your time. This understanding of your own truth is a major component of Wisdom, which is gained from how you implement your life experiences into your life and evolve your thinking and decisions through expanding your knowledge and good judgment. This enlightenment brings consistent Engagementin the quality of your life.
Your desire, energy, and personal encouragement will motivate you to commit yourself to stop spending 100% of your time on 10% of who you are – this is your Reward.
Method 5: Stop Working So You Can Maximize your Opportunities
When you are constantly working, you seldom recognize your achievements. Without taking these moments to recognize your accomplishments, you are constantly stretching for what’s next and never appreciating and enjoying what you have completed.
This cycle often leads to burn out, health issues, personal relationship issues, and low self esteem. And, many times, it does not have a clearly defined end of moment of victory. When you change your mindset from working to maximizing opportunities, you reposition your thought process and how you approach your life.
You are able to separate and segment your work from other areas of your life because maximizing the opportunity has a beginning and an end. You are quicker to recognize when to end or remove your self because you understand what you are spending your time on is meant to be an opportunity not a burden you spend time on with out benefit or value.
Method 6: Happy is a Choice; Contentment and Joy are Lifestyles
One of the definitions of the word overwhelmed is “to give too much of a thing.” When you truly desire to live a life that is fulfilled in all areas, you are destined to have more to do than you have the time, energy, and ability or help to accomplish or complete.
The feeling of being overwhelmed is when you have what you need and are overflowing with what you want. When you have so much success, opportunity, potential, clients, projects, options, prosperity that you can’t “handle” or manage everything, your reaction is that you are overwhelmed. So what about those times when you’re overwhelmed with challenges, struggles, health issues, and other life concerns?
Know the plan for your life is perfect and the struggles are never to defeat you but to make you stronger and uncover your true power. Surrender and find peace living in the overflow, joy and abundance of being overwhelmed.
Method 7: Building Lasting Confidence
Believe it or not, whatever you want is available to you if you have the confidence and belief that you can have what you want and that you deserve it. This does not mean confidence in our degrees, our knowledge, job titles, position, social status, etc.
Instead, it is about having a pure and honest confidence in the person you are. Many successful people have achieved career success through their fear of failure. And while such fear can be a powerful and effective motivator, it can also limit your sense of accomplishment and impede growth in other areas of your life. For many high achievers, confidence is built on external validations like applause, accolades, wins, or promotions. And their ensuring quest to feel this rush keeps them from being engaged in other areas of their lives.
True confidence should come from a life well lived and enjoyed…not the proverbial feathers in your cap.
Method 8: The Courage to be Faithful
Stepping out of your fears and into your greatness requires great courage. Sometimes we are so busy with the work of life that we don’t sit still and take the time to listen to our heart.
Being courageous means not allowing life to steal, kill, or destroy your dreams, hopes, aspirations, and plans but living in the now, the moment, the presence of your power to receive life, and the fullness of all life has to offer and even more abundantly. It takes courage to be honest with yourself, acknowledge your personal truth, and be present in your quest to live that truth.
The easiest thing for high achievers to do is be successful. But living in the fullness of who they are – and want to be – while also maintaining their success takes true grit.
Method 9: – Exponential Living
Exponential Living is achieved through excellence in your Personal, Spiritual, and Emotional health, and balance in all aspects of your life – with yourself and others. It is achieved by building and maintaining spirituality; loving and caring for yourself (hobbies, exercise, “me” time); spending quality time with and appreciating yourself and your family; recognizing your success; and living in your own truth.
When living exponentially you are comfortable with who you are, separate from what you do. It’s when you live in a state of true contentment, being present with yourself and others while also pursuing and maintaining excellence in all aspects of your life.
Often, high achievers are limited by their success because they are only living in the accomplishments in one area of their lives.
They have achieved or have the drive to achieve high levels of professional success but are not truly fulfilled with their lives overall. Or, they have reached their career goals but now know there are other facets of life they want to pursue but don’t know what/how/why/when.
Exponential Living gives such high achievers the power of being true to themselves and achieving a balance between work, family, friends, healthy living, and spiritual commitment to manifest a life that is genuinely complete and content.
Sheri Riley is the founder and Chief Partnership Strategist of GLUE, Inc. and creator of the Exponential Living program (www.exponentialliving.com) – a ground-breaking initiative that helps individuals create balance among life’s key areas in ways that promote a higher standard of excellence.
These last 2 years have been ones of complete upheaval and change. I have failed, succeeded, conquered, lost, gained and
learned a lifetime’s worth in 24 short months. Throughout it all, the one thing that remained constant was my burning desire to be happy.
My whole life, I chased being happy. Always looking for that one thing or someone that will make everything better. I was convinced that if I could just find “the one” I would be okay. I went from relationship to relationship, even in my friendships. And all that pursuit got me was a whole heap of misery.
Because I was chasing the wrong relationship.
I spent all of my time trying to find the one person who would accept and love me for me, yet I wasn’t even willing to give that to myself. It was only when I stopped searching for anything outside of myself that I began to understand what it takes to be happy. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t need anyone else, humans are social creatures and we need friends and mates, however, my folly lay in needing someone else to make me happy.
As fallible beings, it is not possible for one person, or even a handful, to make you happy all of the time. We fail one another, sometimes even in times of greatest need. We make mistakes and we have a very bad tendency to inadvertently hurt one another. So by seeking fulfillment in others, all I was doing was setting myself up for failure.
I wanted someone to accept me for me all while refusing to do just that for myself.
Imagine that you have a friend, and every time you see her, she criticizes your appearance. It starts off small like “You should do something different with your hair” or “You really need a pedicure.” As time goes on, it escalates into “Wow, you really need to lose weight!” or “You never seem to have a good hair day, you know that?” Next thing you know, your friend is pointing out every skin blemish, even the tiniest roll or dimple of fat, how your clothes don’t fit you just right, how those lines around your eyes are getting more noticeable, and how no one in their right mind would want to see you naked let alone love you after such a sight.
You wouldn’t remain her friend, would you?
No, of course not. You’d stop returning her calls. Stop hanging out with her and tell all your other friends what a bitch she is. You would be downright pissed at her, and you’d have every right to be. Yet, every day, we say all of those things to ourselves when we look in the mirror. How can you expect to be happy when you are in an abusive relationship with yourself?
I had to stop seeing myself how I thought others saw me. Learning to stand in front of the mirror and admire myself was one of the biggest steps for me. I’d been taught to hate my reflection from early on in life, and it took a lot for me to learn to love the mirror. I started small, by focusing on the good things, and pretty soon, it was difficult for me to see how any of my flaws really made that much of a difference.
I finally realized that I am worth being happy. I deserve to be happy. And I will continue to make the choices necessary to remain happy. Which means, if there are unhealthy things and/or people around me, I will choose to remove them from my life. I will not grant another person the power to decide whether or not I’m happy.
Which is exactly what I was doing by searching for a relationship to give me my happiness.
I see it everywhere I look; people desperate to find “the one”. I understand, because I’ve been there. I’ve fallen in love too quickly before, simply because I was desperate to have what I thought was missing. I regret giving up so many years of peace because I was too stubborn to take a good, long look at myself.
It’s easy to treat yourself badly. How often do you eat junk food to feel better, or stay up too late because you’re trying to conquer some of that To Do list, or look at yourself with disgust every time you pass a mirror? Do you know the difference between your needs and your desires? How many times have you settled while dating because you’re so lonely and you “need” someone?
Decide that you are no longer going to let your deficiencies define your worth. Look in the mirror and stop the running commentary in your head of how much you hate your body. Replace it with something you like about yourself and add to that list daily. Stop looking for the next relationship to change things and fix the one you’re in with yourself. Attitude and behavior are choices, which means the power to change them lies completely within you. No one else has the power to make your life worth living, so stop giving it to them.