“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, psychologist
“… I want a life! I want to know where I’m going!”
Helena (Nellie) just turned nineteen and was living with her grandmother presently. She was not talking to her parents, who lived across town in the home where she was raised. And, she was also on a new medication her physician thought might ‘calm her down.’
It was her parents who had contacted my office to set up the appointment. Her Dad said she was angry a lot, had child-like temper tantrums and they couldn’t deal with her anymore, so she had moved to live with her maternal grandmother about two weeks ago.
Her mother added, from the background of our phone conversation, that she was struggling at university, not knowing what to major in. And, then she added again that Nellie was eating like a horse and wearing everything she ate.
Helena presented as a tall, brown haired, pretty young woman with dark brown eyes and an intense demeanour. She indicated she was confused about many things and had been struggling to live at home and get along with her parents for some time.
I asked her what specifically she was confused about and she replied,
“Ken, I want a life! I want to know where I’m going! And, I want to know how I’m going to get there!”
“I don’t have any of those, Ken!”
“What do you know about you so far, Nellie?” I asked wondering about her level of self awareness.
“Well, I’m five foot ten, 145 pounds and gaining daily…but only in weight, not height!” she replied with a sarcastic tone reflected in her face and by a sudden shift in her body as if preparing for an imminent attack for her words.
“Well, that’s a start. But, I was wondering about your dreams and goals?” I replied, ignoring her tone.
“I don’t have any of those, Ken!” she said, her tone softening, her eyes dropping to reveal her disappointment in herself.
“Would you want to have dreams and goals, Nellie?”
“Ken, who wouldn’t want to have them?”
“Nellie, lots of people don’t want to have them!”
“Because Nellie, they’re afraid of the responsibility?”
“What does that mean…afraid of the responsibility?”
“It usually means they believe they lack the self esteem or self confidence needed to achieve them… so they avoid them.”
“I believe that living life with a definiteness of purpose, with having a central focus, is essential to success.”
– Cory Booker, political
“…seven things I need to know about me to have the life I want!”
“I don’t think that’s my challenge. My problem is I don’t know what kind of future I want…I really don’t, Ken!” she said in an almost-pleading tone, like a four year old in distress.
“You said a few minutes ago that you wanted a life. There are seven areas we use to measure a life: spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, social, familial and physical.”
“I’ve never thought about my life except in terms of my career and family…and maybe financial!” she said, thoughtfully.
“Well, there are seven vital things you need to know about yourself to have the life you want, Nellie!”
“Seven things…seven things I need to know about me to have the life I want!” she echoed back.
“Do you want the responsibility of knowing them, Nellie? Do you want the accountability, to only yourself, which they include?” I asked, looking carefully at her.
“Ken, why are you putting so much emphasis on that part?”
“Because with greater self awareness comes greater self-accountability? Nellie, everyone else is so busy with their own life, that they don’t have the time or energy for your dreams, they are your job…your sole responsibility!”
“I’m OK with that! But, what are the seven things I need to know about myself to have a life…will you tell me what they are? I’d really like to know! At least it might give me a place to start.” she said with a hint of her earlier pleading tone.
“I’d love to!” I replied!
“The first thing is found within your spiritual domain.”
“So, what’s the first one?” she asked her curiosity piqued and smiling for the first time.
The first thing is found within your spiritual domain. Every thing in the universe, on the planet earth and around you, including you, has a unique purpose, a special role to play in its evolution. There are no exceptions! Nellie, you need to know what your purpose is, specifically!”
“Do you mean my purpose isn’t just to be happy?” she asked with a 19 year old’s naivety.
“Your purpose must serve humanity, serve the evolution of our species, serve the evolution of our universe…being happy usually means looking for more pleasure than pain…that’s impossible to achieve in the natural system in which we live. Street drugs create the temporary illusion of this fantasy but you must pay dearly for such delusional thinking.”
“OK, I kinda know what you mean! But, then how do I find my purpose, Ken?”
“There are many ways. But, I will show you a simple, practical way to uncover it, Nellie!”
“OK! What’s the next one?” she asked, anxious to get on with it.
“The second thing is within your mental domain.”
“The second thing is within your mental domain. To have a life demands you know your highest values so you can be clear and decisive in moving toward your dreams.”
“That’s great! But, again how do I do that…how do I figure out what my highest values are?”
“There’s many ways and I can show you how to uncover them and use them in designing your destiny.”
“Cool! And, the third thing I need to know about me is…?”
“The third thing is vocational and about knowing…”
“The third thing is vocational and about knowing your ‘dream job’…the job which feels so fulfilling when you’re doing it that both time and space collapse into a presence, which you love to feel.” I said.
“Now that would be really, really cool to know that. Knowing that would give me the information I need to decide what to study at school, wouldn’t it?” she asked starting to link self awareness with the life she wants.
“It is annoying to be honest to no purpose.” – Ovid, poet
“The fourth thing is financial.”
“The fourth thing is financial. You need to know what forms your wealth takes and how to manage them so they grow.”
“Ken, I’m an unemployed, university student with no income and a growing debt load. I have no need for that!” she said, with a dismissive air.
“You’re talking about monetary wealth, only one form of your wealth, there are others just as important which you need to know and manage, Nellie.”
“I think I lost you. How about an example?”
“Sure! We will come to this later in more detail. An example…I heard your kidney is worth $60,000 on the Black Market in some parts of the world. So, if you don’t manage your kidney you’ve lost some of your health wealth.”
She looked at me with curiosity.
So, I added, “Would you sell one of your parents into some form of slavery for a million dollars? If not, then your parents are worth two million but only if you manage those relationships. Do you get the idea, Nellie?”
She looked at me hesitantly, “I think so, but can I ask more about that later?”
“The fifth thing is about your social life.”
“No problem at all! The fifth thing is about your social life. You need to know about you and who your friends are…your real friends. These are distinct from your acquaintances and other connections you have with people. This saves you a lot of time and energy that you can devote to your dreams. Many people don’t really know who their real friends are yet it is vital to know to have a life!”
“I have tons and tons of friends. So, that is not a big deal for me.” she replied with assurance.
“My professional experience has shown me that people with a life usually have only three to five real friends because that’s all the time they have if they want to have that life!”
“You must have a special definition of friendship, then?” she said.
“Nellie, a friend is someone who you would call at 3 AM to help you with a drive, a friend is someone you would loan, or give $1000 without question if you thought they needed it. A friend is someone who values you because you exist, not because of who you are, what you do or what you have!” I said.
“I think I see what you mean, now! I only have a few of those!” she replied.
“The sixth thing you need to know about you is how you fit into your family.”
“The sixth thing you need to know about you is how you fit into your family. Families can take any form. It could be who your are connected to genetically, it could be who raised you and it could be who you share a home with. There are many types of families. And, each one is functionally dysfunctional in that it supports and challenges each member to grow optimally.”
“Are you saying a family is supposed to build you up and beat you down?” she asked skeptically.
“Yes, I am, Nellie! Every family does that! And, when you know who your supporters and challengers are, it helps you appreciate how you fit. You need that information to have a future and that life you desire!”
“Well, so far, I only notice my family’s challengers and there are a lot of them. So that should be useful for me. What’s the last thing I need to know about me?” she said.
“Every path serves a purpose.” – Gene Oliver, athlete
“The seventh thing is about your health.”
“The seventh thing is about your health. You need to know what are the specific health rituals which will ensure your longevity.
“I lost you on this one, too! Please tell me more, Ken!” Nellie said, confused again.
“Research tells us that because of the advances made in such areas as genetics, medicine, nutrition and others, people are living much longer than we expected. Children born today are expected to have 150 year life spans with our current knowledge. But this will occur only if each us use this knowledge carefully.”
“Do you mean I will probably live longer than my parents?” she asked with surprise.
“Very, very likely! So, you will need a life plan which includes the six things I just cited, and a collection of health rituals which will enhance your life span. Then you can have a life on purpose…a life that is purposeful and so filled with gratitude, certainty and love!”
‘So, this comes back to the first thing…my life purpose?” she asked making the full-circle journey quickly in her head.
“Exactly, Nellie! Are you ready to uncover the seven things you’ll need to know about you to have a life?”
“I sure am! Let’s get at it!” she replied enthusiastically.
“I am not on this planet to get something done – the things we accomplish are expressions of our purpose.”
– Paul Williams, musician
“… if I can connect anything to my purpose…”
And so began Nellie’s journey of self discovery. Once she had uncovered the seven things she needed to know about herself she developed a life plan which incorporated each of them. I watched her self awareness grow in leaps and bounds. She soon realized what she wanted to study which, of course, impacted her grades. She figured out how her parents fit into her evolution, challenging and supporting her repeatedly across her entire past. She developed mature, respectful relationships with them over the following month and eventually moved back home the following fall.
Nellie developed a detailed two year life plan which itemized how she wanted to be and what she wanted to have, to demonstrate she had achieved this state of being. Then she created specific plans which would take her towards the life she dreamed.
In one of our last sessions together she said, “You know Ken, the most important thing I’ve learned is if I can connect anything to my purpose, I have the energy, creativity and commitment I need to achieve it…and that is so cool to me!”
“Welcome to the world of genius and possibilities!” I replied smiling.
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
– John F. Kennedy, US President
Until Next time…
Now you know, to have a life you need to know seven things about yourself. You need to know your life purpose, you need to know your highest values, you need to know the work that inspires you, you need to know and how to manage all forms of your wealth, you need to know who your genuine friends are, you need to know just how perfect your family is for you and you need to know how to optimize your health with a life plan you have designed. So get at it, collect the information you need to have the life you want! If you don’t do it, someone else, who cares about you will try to instead. But they can’t, they don’t know you and never will. If it’s to be, it’s up to YOU!
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Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
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