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A Life That Matters: 6 Ways to Live From Your Heart

A Life That Matters: 6 Ways to Live From Your Heart

Ever had a near death experience?

I don’t mean a flat-line, CPR saved you and you were met by angels who led you toward the light kind of NDE; I mean a moment when you knew you were going to die. A moment that called into question every choice you have ever made and caused you to want to live differently from that point on.

It’s good to have a wake-up call of sorts, to remind us of why we are here and to ask ourselves whether we are headed in the direction we intended.

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Life throws lots of choices our way. Sometimes in the frenzy we grab whichever one is easiest at the time. But when you think you are going to die, the life you actually intended to live becomes very clear to you.

You may find that you are living someone else life – not your own. Perhaps your choices were based on what would make a parent or partner happy. Maybe they were the most convenient at the time, or worse, maybe those choices had more to do with not making waves than with answering your life’s calling.

It is entirely possible to come to the end of your life and wonder how you could have lived so thoughtlessly. It is just as possible to live a life that matters – from the heart – in ways that echo the very song of the soul.

How do you know if you are heading in the right direction?

If you have based your worth on experiences that built a resume but not a life, most days you may feel you are living somebody else’s definition of success. If in spite of all your outward accomplishments you have a persistent, underlying sense of regret, this is often a sign of heart draining, soul sucking choices.

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In contrast, to live from the heart is to let our soul lead us. It is to ask very different questions.

Questions like – What will my legacy be? Will the world be any different because I lived? Does my life matter? And with the questions, to heed the wise words of others who have let their soul be their life compass.

Here are 5 examples:

1. Focus on Small Things

The passion to make great changes in our world is commendable, but it is our small, often unnoticed actions that truly make a difference in the world. Mother Teresa said it best when she stated—

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

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2. Change Your Yardstick

Every life has value and purpose. If we are here to heal and change each other, then living from your heart requires measuring achievement by how well you live and love each day; it defines success as bravely facing tomorrow in spite of the heartbreak of today. Because when you live from a heart that has been reborn, your life is based on soul work, not just a paycheck.  Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a physician who worked with the dying wrote in her bestseller Kitchen Table Wisdom

“Every one of us matters. And we have the ability to befriend and strengthen the life in one another; to heal and change the world, one heart at a time.”

3. Risk Being Hurt

Don’t let fear guide your actions or choices. Instead of holding back, allow yourself to be vulnerable. Being “sensitive” is not a weakness but a strength, for it is empathy that enables our life’s most genuine experiences, authentic interactions and fulfilling relationships.

4. Live for Impact

Soulful living starts with the heart, even if it takes a more time and you may not always see the results. Productivity really doesn’t matter if what we do isn’t effective and work cannot be considered valuable if it does not make an impact. Living a life of value has very little to do with getting things done. Ask anyone who is dying. Yes, it is risky to care, but nothing withers the soul like indifference. A prayer is just words if we don’t live it, and our actions are a testimony to what we believe in. Sister Helen Prejean, the nun who wrote Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, once said –

“I saw the suffering and I let myself feel it…I saw the injustice and let myself do something about it. I changed from being a nun who prayed for a suffering world to a nun with my sleeves rolled up, living my prayer…So I keep watching what I do to see what I actually believe.”

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5. Change Your Words

Sometimes simply asking ourselves, “Have I spoken the words that matter today?” Words like, I love you. Thank You. I’m Sorry. Forgive me. In the end, that’s all that’s really left to say, and what we will regret not saying when, not if, we run out of time.

6. Let Life Change You

A big part of becoming who we were made to be, a soul choice, is making peace with what is, while being open to what will be. To be alive is to be exposed. It can hurt and it won’t always be fair. But the way we choose to respond to the hurt and unfairness will determine who we ultimately become. Martin Luther King Jr. knew the truth of this choice when he said –

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
Our life may take several drafts and revisions to get it just right. Life can be messy, but if the end result is something beautiful, then the mess will be worth it.
There is no formal training in how to live a life well-loved. But a wise heart is a willing heart, for it knows that there are no guarantees of tomorrow, and that to live big and wide and love recklessly is — in the end — the only kind of life that will matter.

 

 

 

Featured photo credit: PhotoPin.com via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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