No, I’m not talking about what to download to your smart phone. APP represents three key ingredients for living with intention, rather than just marking time: Authenticity, Purpose and Passion. Let’s talk about these in turn.
We live in a world in which we’re constantly managing our image and reputation–whether we’re aware of doing that or not. Fundamentally, as human beings, we all want to be liked and accepted, to be considered a good person and/or really good at what we do. We want to present our best face. We’ve learned since childhood what to do to gain approval. If we aren’t mindful, we can easily fall into the trap of becoming a lifelong chameleon, contorting ourselves to be someone we think we need to be in order to be accepted. However, moving from act to act to gain fleeting acceptance ultimately leaves us empty. Are we truly accepted for who we are? No, because we didn’t represent our authentic selves.
Real connections, whether personal or business, can only be formed and sustained when we show up as our authentic selves. We bring who we are, what we’re about to these relationships. We coach, lead, follow, support, collaborate, share our lives with others who know that they can trust us, that what they see is who we are and what they’ll get. They know we aren’t perfect, just like they aren’t, even if we have different strengths and shortcomings. That’s why we complement each other. That’s why when we come together with others, the whole of the community, the organization, the partnership is more than the sum of its parts. When we’re comfortable with our vulnerabilities and let others see that we’re committed to being authentic, it inspires them to do the same. In turn, we learn, grow and thrive together.
We live in a very busy world, full of things to do, commitments to meet. When we get to a certain stage in our lives, we’re parents, children of elderly parents, in addition to being working professionals who spend most of our waking hours doing jobs that, quite frankly, many of us dread. We aren’t sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way of growing up to become adults, we become saddled with responsibilities. We either never really knew our purpose in this life or we knew at one point–could be in the form of a childhood dream–but somehow feel we have lost our way.
When we approach something with purpose, e.g., volunteer for a cause in which we deeply believe, or participate in a family event with the intended purpose to (re-)connect instead of simply feeling obliged, there’s a joyful and expansive energy that fills us up. Have you ever noticed that? Conversely, whenever we do anything out of a sense of “should,” there’s a tenseness we carry with us that may manifest as sore necks and/or backs, difficulty sleeping, indigestion or any number of physical or psychological symptoms. All of us come into this life for the purpose of creating joy and growing, even if the specifics differ from person to person. The more we become mindful of choosing what to do and why we want to do it, we become tuned into our true selves and tapped into the flow of creation in the universe.
Do you remember being really into something (or someone) and how limitless the possibilities seem when you feel that passion coursing through your veins? When we aren’t doing something for which we feel passion, it becomes drudgery. That’s why, when we don’t love what we do, we find ourselves on the weekly treadmill of dreading every Monday morning, willing ourselves to slug through the week, waiting to exclaim “TGIF!” (Thank goodness it’s Friday!). Instead of passion, much of what we do is motivated by what we feel are obligations. As a result, we spend more time doing things grudgingly rather than giving of ourselves freely and joyfully–because that joy boomerangs back to us multiplied.
When we’re passionate about something that’s objectively big and scary, our love for and belief in it fuels our resolve to move mountains to make it happen. It’s not that we don’t feel fear or self-doubt; rather, the passion we feel is greater. That’s why so many self-development experts urge us to find and follow our passion. That’s why we hear such wisdom as when we love what we do, it isn’t work.
Call to Action
For many of us, we feel less than authentic, purposeful and passionate about our lives. Does that mean we all need a life overhaul? No, unless you feel called to do so. Otherwise, life is a process. What we can all do is inject APP into our daily lives. Here are some points to contemplate and practice:
1. What one simple thing can you mindfully do every day to honor your authentic self? May be it’s feeling ok to say “no” to something that you truly don’t want to do. May be it’s feeling ok about getting a little emotional about something that touches you.
2. Before you do something, think about the purpose your action would fulfill other than obligation. For instance, go to your child’s recital with the purpose of celebrating the talent of your child. Go to work with the purpose of making one customer’s experience better directly or indirectly by what you do.
3. Do something each week (or more often if you can) that really engages your passion. Perhaps it’s taking a pottery or drawing class. Perhaps it’s volunteering your time to visit the elderly.
With mindful practice, we can all up our APP quotient in our lives.
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