My mom went to a real estate investors meeting last night. The speaker at the meeting asked the seventy people in attendance to raise their hands if they were fulfilled and happy in their current jobs. Three people of the seventy raised their hands.
Every morning, a large majority of the population has to set multiple alarms with snooze built in only to finally peel themselves out of bed, begrudgingly go into a job they abhor, to get a paycheck that barely covers their bills, to pay for all the things they don’t need in a life they have created for themselves that they hate. Their soul is numb. They don’t recognize their own reflection staring back at themselves in the mirror while washing sleep off their face in the morning. They strangle themselves with their tie and cage themselves in their cubicles.
As a home health physical therapist, when I am performing a start of care I have to input every medication a patient is taking one-by-one. It’s extremely rare when I input less than 10-15 medications per patient, and I have had to input upwards of 50 medications for a single patient on more than one occasion. We have medications to treat the anxiety, depression, fatigue, high blood pressure, and every other symptom imaginable that arises from a lifetime of not listening. There has been highly credible research that has found that a staggering 75%-98% of mental and physical illnesses are caused by our thought life. That means that only 2-25% of illnesses come from our environment and genetics!
The best antidote that I know to numbingly trudging through life and dying before you are dead is to listen to what your life is trying to tell you. Most of us are listening, we are just listening to the wrong things. We are listening to what the mass media is telling us is a successful life. We are listening to what career our parents think we should pursue. We are listening to what our spouse wants. We are listening to what the credit card companies are selling us. We are listening to fear. We are listening to what is “normal”. We are listening to cultural and societal norms. We are going with the flow and not rocking the boat.
My story is not terribly unique. I’m thirty-three years old and I’m just beginning to know myself. Like most of us, I have spent most of my life up until this point listening to what everyone else thought I should be doing instead of actually letting my life speak. I had been listening to what others wanted of me for so long, it took me quitting my job, buying a one-way ticket to Iceland, and traveling around the world by myself to drown out all other voices other than my own and the One who created me uniquely and for a purpose and finally listen-listen to what my Creator created me for, listen to all the gentle nudges my life has given me up until now, and listen to my own desires that were buried deep underneath a mountain of expectations.
It’s safe to say that we all want to be living with purpose and intention. We all want to make a positive impact on the world around us. I believe that it’s only when we are living in harmony with the purpose we are created for that we can have that indelible impact. This begins by listening.
Today I invite you to listen to your life. Dig deep. Put your bare fingers deep into the earth of your soul and see what you find there. Get dirt underneath your fingernails. Take the time to observe your life and see any common threads that seem to weave their way through the entire course of it. Pull on that golden thread. Sit with your hopes, your dreams, your fears, and drown out all other expectations other than your own and your Maker’s. This can be a long, slow, and sometimes painful process, but the results are worth it. Let’s start listening.
Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be? -Danielle LaPorte