"Gift, creativity cure, instinct, destiny, jumps - the "light" version"
I call this the light version because I wanted to see if I could craft this with some "brief" highlights that could have "something....." rather than post something "heavy" that would initially tackle the arena of giving an extensive picture of how a person should view and experience the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ working in his or her life (something that the books by TD Jakes and "jump" by Steve Harvey get into considerably). I'd rather let that "unfold" if need be, later....
So this is my "light" "experiment" on how to touch on these aspects. If it can lead to anything "deeper," by all means, but that's not for the OP (maybe later replies).
THE BLOG 10/04/2012 06:35 am ET | Updated Dec 04, 2012
The Top 10 Ways to Discover Your Unique Gift
By Laura Berman Fortgang
Everyone has a unique gift — something that is just undeniably “you” and is precisely useful to those around you. It’s much more than a skill — it is an ingrained strength fueled by your deepest passions, and nurtured by an unwavering sense of purpose. Most people never find their unique gift, either because they don’t realize they have one, don’t believe they have one, haven’t attempted to find it, or don’t recognize it when it is staring them in the face. For those willing to start the search, this top 10 is for you.
By the way, you have probably noticed that this top 10 list has 11 items. Isn’t that unique?!
1. Revisit Your Childhood
You have probably heard this before. That's because it works. Think back as far as you can, to pre-school days if possible. Think back to times when you weren't influenced by peers or fears. Back to times when your parents' expectations of you didn't go beyond you playing and exploring in a safe environment. What did you do? How did you fill your days? What activities or experiences created the greatest memories? What was the most fun? The common thread in there is a message that, with a little reinterpreting to fit your adult world, will propel you down the path toward your unique gift.
2. Lost In The Present
When is the last time you lost track of time? Are there activities that you find so engrossing that you don't think about time, or eating, or sleeping? Do you have these experiences at work? Do your hobbies and leisure activities fall into this category? Moments of lost time point towards areas of strong interest and deep passions, another key stepping-stone on the path towards your unique gift.
3. Ask Others
Friends, family, associates, or trusted advisors get to observe you in ways that you cannot observe yourself. Their insights can be valuable, revealing, endorsing, and reinforcing. Many times, their observations have greater clarity than self-analysis that is surrounded by a fog of self-talk. Query some close observers about your strengths, skills, and unique talents. "What makes me unique? What do you think I do particularly well? What is my strongest skill or characteristic?" They may not nail your unique gift, but they will offer clues.
4. Learn From Assessments
There are numerous, scientifically validated assessment tools that can help individuals determine key personality traits, interests, skills, and areas of expertise. Myers-Briggs, DISC, and CDR are but a few. As with asking others, these tools will provide valuable clues. You must be willing to answer the questions as honestly as you can. If you've done these, try the Strengths Finder. I have found it to be very accurate and helpful.
5. Create Space
When you climb to the top of a tree, you see the forest, at the bottom you only see a few trees. Create some space in your life so that you have the opportunity gain perspective. This will help you determine the general direction you should be moving in, which will then lead to a more defined path, and eventually your own personal trail blazed with your unique gift. Unclutter your life from activities, people and things that keep you from having space.
6. Go Solo
This is the extreme of creating space. If you find creating space in your daily life difficult, or if you have created space and are ready to go to the next level, go solo for a week. Go camping, find a cabin, a deserted island, go sailing -- be alone for a week. No distractions. Start listening. After you overcome the fear of being alone with yourself, you will start to hear.
Write down your thoughts every day. Record observations, intuitions, feelings, revelations, and shifts in perspective. Your journal will begin to reveal patterns -- those created by common threads that represent areas of strong interest, honesty regarding feelings, awareness of special skills, and a natural draw toward certain people, places, and purposes.
8. Release The Genie
Imagine that you brush up against a magic lamp, and out pops a genie. The genie says, "I am here to grant you 20 experiences, of your choosing, to be enjoyed sometime in your lifetime." What would your list look like? This list represents more clues. These experiences represent your true values, your interests, and your passions. Then give yourself at least one of these experiences soon.
9. Re-Engineer Your Job You don't have to switch jobs or your profession to find (or honor) your unique gift, though those are possibilities. Start by pulling out your current job description. Identify everything you really enjoy doing, and everything that you have to do but would prefer not to do. Next, identify items that are not part of your job description that you would like to do. Now that you've distinguished the wants from the shoulds, start to rebuild your job into the "perfect" job. Renegotiate what you can!
10. Butterfly Projects
You know the feeling of joyful anticipation as you look forward to a special event or day? Like Christmas morning, or your birthday as a child, or getting ready for vacation, or daydreaming in school on the first warm day of spring. These are positive butterflies, in contrast to those we get from nervous anticipation. Have you ever had positive butterflies while thinking about a project? Perhaps it's a special project at work, or coaching a soccer team, or fixing up the yard, volunteering at church, organizing a golf outing, or looking forward to a quiet day with a book, or preparing for a marathon. Which butterflies might represent your gift?
11. Just Do It
Everyone has something unique to offer. Give yourself the opportunity to find it. A fulfilling life will emerge from a conscientious approach to living and sharing what is in your talent DNA. If you find yourself stuck trying to name it, get a coach or find some like-minded folks and get unstuck. You need not deny yourself the joy of following a fulfilling path, and discovering your unique gift.
Instinct - TD Jakes
When you take baby steps, you discover the strength of your legs before you try to run.
It’s not how many times you have failed; it’s what you’ve learned each time you got back on your feet…Each time you fail, there’s a clue to your future success
….if you want more than just a job, you must know the why and when of a thing and not just the how.
To not prepare for the new territory is almost disrespectful of the opportunity.
More opportunity emerges when you organize a cluttered life.
Destiny - TD Jakes
Destiny is a journey, and you will fall down a few times, and maybe even more. The key that opens the door to Destiny is your willingness to get back up after delay, disappointment, or even disaster.
When you make a conscious decision to have balance in your life, you systematically eliminate the potential for frustration and misery.
Destiny means focusing on a vision, seeing what’s not there yet. Don’t let go of it.
On any given day, I prioritize…After I have prioritized, I focus…Equally important..is the ability to ignore….not be a situation that merits my attention that day.
It is so vitally important that your life has an order and a rhythm so you won’t miss the seasons of life when you are most productive and vital.
Pay attention to the small things because sometimes the greatest opportunity can come through seemingly insignificant events.
...remind yourself that the challenge is part of your destiny. You can't predict where it's going to lead.
Add someone to your life who is smarter, more knowledgeable or accomplished than you and make learning from that person’s experience part of your Destiny.
Know that you’re a work in progress. Look for the signs of advancement and celebrate your moments of growth.
Discipline makes decisions that take you toward Destiny…When you do make mistakes, keep a level head, reassess, and move in the direction of Destiny.
Above all else, guard what goes on in your head.
Protect your head so that your journey to Destiny is guided by knowledge rather than feelings….Keep your thoughts in a good place…Protecting your head is important because discouraging advice will come from the sage experts.
Learn to be selective about whom you share your dreams with.
He asked this friend how he accrued his fortune. The wealthy friend’s response was, “Keep the right company.”….he would spend as much time as possible with the people who would improve his life;
Sometimes Destiny speaks quietly in subtle opportunities at the hands of those we least suspect.
Develop a regular practice of stillness so that you can be attuned to Destiny speaking to you.
The path you travel to Destiny can create as much excitement and drama as a horror movie. You need courage to keep a level head and stick with your strategy, especially when you’re under attack….
You should be scared to make decisions with no information. Good information can unfreeze the paralysis of your mind to make a Destiny decision.
Destiny requires showing courage in addition to changing, demonstrating vision, entering new arenas, stretching, growing, failing, and getting back up again
The Creativity Cure - Carrie Barron
Creativity starts with how you think and then becomes about what you do…When you are creative you can think of alternatives….
You have to be willing to stay the course and do some things poorly or with discomfort. Ineptitude is good because it means that you are letting yourself learn and experience the process. Process is more important for happiness than product.
Learning to act without waiting for the perfect opportunity and embracing a flawed situation will help you progress.
Knowing when to honor and when to resist impulses, when to act and when to suppress will serve you.
You have to incorporate:
A capacity for delayed gratification Points for small victories Using and honoring what you have The belief that results are about incremental steps Patience and a belief in process
Having a work ethic is essential for happiness…But you can take it too far, …sometimes your mental health is more important….
Making what we can, however imperfectly, is empowering, because it is an expression of the self…The next rendition might be more advanced, but a growth process has begun.
…the mind works better when the body is robust.
An active body leads to a passive mind, which is the essence of Creative Capacity…a mind that allows thoughts to go where they will without trying to control them…rely on a well-conditioned body that takes the lead, honors habit, and allows intuition to surface.
Teaching yourself the benefits of long-term gratifications over short-term ones is very useful….a much better chance for happiness.
….when you are discriminating, clear, and self-aware, you can choose well, commit…and feel good about your process. You can refine....
The nurturing situation, or the holding environment, is critical for cognitive and emotional development…identify what makes you feel safe and whole.
Compromise by finding a balance between desire and practicality. Have your passions, but make adaptive choices.
If you really have some defect in your knowledge base…and it disturbs you, then take five minutes a day to learn about the subject…you will start then have the choice to continue in whatever way you deem right.
Jump: Take the leap of faith to achieve your life of abundance by Steve Harvey
Don’t give up on your dream; accept that life is a series of ups and downs and that you will overcome the obstacles.
Reframe your story by looking at the positives.
In every dark moment, you have an opportunity to travel down the hallway of life until you find the right door for you. Even when you get a door slammed in your face, it just means it’s time to turn another doorknob, and maybe another, and another.
Every door isn’t for you.
Even if you fail, you can still end up with opportunities or skills or connections that you wouldn’t possess if you hadn’t tried.
My only job is to keep getting up and allow my hope to propel my life forward. Every morning that I am blessed to see another day, it is yet another chance I have to dream again. It is an opportunity for me to see how I can do it better.
Hoping is an investment….It was the hope of better things that kept me going.
Happiness for me is living a life of purpose. I don't see how a person could be happy without a purpose or mission. The Scripture says, "A man without a vision or a dream shall perish."
Your hope has to be tied to something that you’re gifted at or have a talent for and is in the realm of reality.
What is the one idea that you can begin with today?
All he did was to keep pushing that hope forward until it carried him into a more positive place.
The purpose is that subconsciously you’ll do something each day to bring you closer to achieving your desires.
As you learn to keep your hope flexible, and to affirm yourself and your dream, your confidence will grow. This will put you in a position to take on whatever life has to give you.
Act like a success - Think like a success - Steve Harvey
We have to be aware of the conversation we are having with ourselves about our gifts and talents. What are you saying to yourself when no one else is around? What are the conversations that you are having in the mirror with yourself each morning?
But you have to realize that failure is part of the process when you are on the road to success.
The only way to get back on track is to come up with another plan.
We have to get up every single day and make the choice to focus on the positive....
Every day is an opportunity to see your light as a gift. We all have opportunities that are presented to us on a daily basis. These opportunities show up in the people we meet, the invitations we receive, or the information shared with us. Our response to these choices can determine the quality of our lives.
All of our actions are intertwined, and they prepare us for the moments to come. We don't know when, where, or how our next big moment is going to show up.
At the end of the day, your personal resolve to nurture and grow your gift will be the deciding factor between your success and your failure.
Now please don't walk into work tomorrow and quit your job.
Passion is a strong emotion associated with something you do. Passion is the emotion, but it is never the gift. Some people are not passionate about their gift because they have not yet given themselves the room to actually walk in it yet....do not confuse the passion you have for something else as your gift.
Finally, your gift is not your talents. In fact, what you do well sometimes blocks us from finding out what we do great. I think of talents as the lesser to one's gift. Talents can be learned while a gift is inherent....However, our talents often lead us to exercising our gift.
The first thing you need in your makeup kit is to be the kind of person who attracts rather than repels others.There are no self-made men; therefore, you have to learn the law of attraction to draw the right people to you. You have to be easy to work with, or at least willing to create the atmosphere that makes it easy to work with you.
Next, you have to aspire to be a visionary person with a positive outlook....
You also must recognize your shortcomings and be willing to improve on them...
Finally, you have to respect time - yours and others - by being punctual. You have to be a person of integrity.
An essential part of your makeup has to be getting honest, getting real, and being willing to take on new actions.
Once you have become honest with yourself and you identify new actions for tackling your weaknesses, here comes the hard part - changing your habits....
Knowing what's next is paramount to your success....There's always has to be a what's next.
What separates the dreamers from the doers? Goals...Goals are the key ingredient that helps us stay focused, consistent, and diligent on our path to achieving our dreams.
Goals are essential because they give you realistic, measurable, and specific targets....They can also serve as a handy map for attaining your dreams....
You also have to set up your goals in a way that ensures your success.
If you don't honestly know where to begin, start by just setting up a regular time in your calendar to focus on your dream.
The key is to have the right number of steps that will be attainable and have just the right amount of challenge to keep you motivated and moving forward.
Create goals for your dream that will make your gift come alive.
Until you change your focus and elevate your imagination, your present situation will define you.
Your vision will matter only when it is connected to your gift.
Make sure you are clear about what your gift is before you create a vision...
Write down your vision. Make it simple and direct.
I have learned from my past that the best way for me to accomplish my goals is to put them in front of me where I can see them at all times.
When you focus on your vision and connect it to your gift, you are on your way toward success.
You cannot share your dream and vision with everyone.
I don't want you to deny yourself anything just because you are too proud or stubborn to realize that God often uses other people to assist you in reaching your destiny. These people are like treasure chests waiting at strategic moments in your journey to provide you with what you need. Asking for what you want is the only key you need to open the chest and enjoy the treasure.
Everything we do in life that's worthy of note requires gifts that are beyond our own. How we utilize the blessings of our relationships is the key to making it big....
There is nothing wrong with partnering with someone else.
You also have to keep your eyes open for like-minded people, for others who are on the same wavelength as you.
You need others around you for inspiration and motivation....I also had nothing to prove and nothing to be ashamed of. Recognizing this practically doubled my confidence level. It strengthened me to go forward and ask. You have no idea of the number of successful people who are around you waiting for someone to come up and ask them for assistance or guidance.
You cannot give your best when you don't know what your best is. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important because you need to learn how to maximize your wins and minimize your losses....
When you know what you do well, you can develop a strategy for growth.
You never know. You just have to stay open to diversifying your gift.
The more open you are, the faster you will realize your dreams. An expansive vision is necessary when reaching for your life's possibilities....Step outside your comfort zone and try something new, something adventuresome, when utilizing your gift.
Your commitments can develop you, or they can destroy you, but either way, they will define you. Tell me what you’re committed to, and I’ll tell you what you’ll be in twenty years.
The question you must answer is: “Twenty-five years from now, what will I wish I had done today?” That’s the cost of a God-given dream.
Questions lead to discovery. These questions can help you discover your calls.
Posted Nov 20, 2017
1) If you were standing at the Pearly Gates and asked what you liked best about your experience of a human life, write a list of what you’d say. (Be specific. Don’t say friendships, name names. Don't say nature, name places.)
2) What is the most prominent quote or affirmation you have tacked/taped/framed up in your house and/or office?
3) Italian writer Alberto Moravia said it’s important to know “the one problem you were born to understand.” Such as “What is true leadership?” “How do you live a creative life?” “What's the role of the mind in the course of disease?” “How do you raise compassionate children?” What is the one problem you were born to understand?
4) Name a subject you can speak about with genuine authority because you’ve lived it? Growing up in a family with a disability, being a cancer survivor, living in another country, supporting yourself as an artist?
5) When you go into a bookstore, what section do you always go to first, or spend the most amount of time in?
6) What book are you in the middle of reading right now? What’s the theme?
7) If you’ve ever thought that someday you might write a book, what would the subject of that book be?
8) What have always been your most natural abilities? The courses you always aced in school, the skills that always came easily to you?
9) A Harvard psychologist named Howard Gardner popularized the idea of “multiple intelligences,” rather than a simple (and limiting) notion of IQ as based on old IQ-tests. Rank the following multiple intelligences in order, from those that most closely describe yourself, to those that least describe you:
Linguistic intelligence (word smart)
Logical/mathematical (number/logic smart)
Visual/Spatial (picture smart)
Musical (music smart)
Body/Kinesthetic (body/physical smart)
Interpersonal (people smart)
Intrapersonal (self/self-reflective smart)
Naturalist (nature/environment smart)
10) If you were to go back to school—not for the sake of establishing a new career or making money, necessarily, but just for the love of learning—what subject(s) would you most want to study?
11) If you could test-drive an entirely different profession than the one you’re currently in—or a different version of the one you’re in—what would it be?
12) If money and logistics were no object, what three activities would you most love to pursue/experience?
13) When were you the happiest you’ve ever been, and what was going on at that point in your life?
14) Name an experience you consider among the high-points of your life (could be as simple as sitting in front of a sunset with a loved one, or as elaborate as traveling in Europe for a summer). Write the ingredients list of this experience. What were the factors that made this experience a high-point?
15) Have you had a dream in the past week that really struck you? What was the dream about, and what was your interpretation of it? (Or perhaps just the last dream that you vividly remember?)
16) If you ever found yourself at a crossroads (say, coming out of college, or out of a marriage), and had to make a choice between one of several directions to go in, in making whatever choice you made, what was the road not taken?
17) Were there directions or choices in life that your parents either explicitly or implicitly did not want you to go in? (It might have been different for each parent.)
18) You’re going to a Halloween party next week: what do you really want to come dressed as?
19) Name a decision in your life that really needs to be made now, not back-burnered another month or another year?
20) Name something positive about yourself that people have been telling you all your life.
21) If you had an hour’s worth of prime-time television and an international audience, what subject would you talk about for that hour?
22) If I were to say to you, “Just Go For It!” what might the “It” in “Go For It” be?
23) What would you say is the most satisfying accomplishment of your life so far?
24) What is the most important thing missing from your life?
25) What act of boat-rocking would you engage in right now that would shake your life up, for the sake of helping it grow and evolve, be stimulated and challenged?
26) What have you avoided or ignored in the course of your life that follows you around anyway and seems determined to claim you—your creative side, leadership, public speaking, writing a book, a simple life in the country, self-employment? What keeps coming back?
27) People often won’t make a significant change in their lives until they become sick of a pattern and until their own suffering forces their hand. Name a pattern in your life that you’re sick of?
28) Have you had any synchronicities lately—meaningful coincidences? What was the event, and how did you interpret it?
29) What social causes most attract or inflame you?
30) Write down the name of someone whose life you envy, and why?
31) What magazines or newsletters do you subscribe to?
32) Think of a time when you were the most outspoken you’ve ever been about something; took a stand, made sure your voice was heard. What was it about?
33) If you could teach every child in the world one life lesson, and have them truly learn it, what lesson would that be?
34) Write down the names of 3 or 4 of both your favorite movies and your favorite books. What if any themes do they have in common? What personal interests do they reflect?
35) One of the most powerful forces operating in people’s lives is the unlived life of their parents—the dreams they had that didn’t come true, the callings they had that went unanswered. What if anything is the unlived life of each of your parents or primary caretakers (the answer to the question, “My Dad always wanted to be a what? My mother always wished she could have what?), and what effect has that had on the decisions/choices you’ve made?
36) Write down the names of at least three people who know you the best. Let them answer the following question, as if you were asking it of them: “What do you think my calling is right now? What's trying to emerge in my life?
37) What is the most consistent message or urging you’ve been hearing in your head in the last year about a change that wants to happen in your relationship to work? And the most consistent urging you’ve heard about a change that wants to happen in a non-work arena: relationship, community life, lifestyle, health or spiritual regimens?
Connecting the Dots
Now skim through your responses to all the preceding questions and look for patterns by circling all recurring themes. Any word or phrase or action item that continually shows up. Whatever you circle will be something that wants your attention, wants airtime or an entrance cue. Something that's being called-for from you.
2. "Crafting the soul: creating your life as a work of art - excerpts" In response to Reply # 0 Tue Feb-13-18 03:14 PM by c71
I'm excerpting from chapter 8 of this book (the "title chapter" comes in at chapter 8 for some reason)
I'm sure there's good stuff in the preceding (and following) chapters of this book, but.....as usual, I'm attempting to "glean" powerful info, powerful sentences, in a "clear-cut" way (writing all those college research papers has me inclined to be "efficient" that way)
Crafting the soul: Creating your life as a work of art
by Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin, Ph. D.
p 127 - 128
Crafting the soul
Within each human soul, meaning flickers as a spark awaiting to be ignited. How one chooses to live, how one fashions one's life, determines whether this spark will be smothered or whether it will burst forth as a flame. Cultivating the soul, the creation of life as a work of art, offers a path toward making extrinsic the intrinsic core of meaning that lays dormant within each human person. The task is not so much to discover the meaning of life as to evoke meaning from life.....
Which ingredients are required to produce a great work of art? Which ingredients are needed to craft one's soul as a work of art, to elicit meaning from life?
The first is hard and constant work. Great art is not he product of fleeting inspiration. As Thomas Alva Edison put it: Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. (Actually, Goethe said it first, about fifty years before Edison.) Similarly, crafting the soul requires constant effort....Creating life as an art form is a lifelong endeavor.
The second ingredient is study of past masterpieces. An apprentice artist must study the works and techniques of the masters before trying to compose a great work of his or her own....Similarly, those engaged in the art of life must study the lives and teachings of the spiritual virtuosos of the past who have mastered the art of soulcrafting....We would never buy a house or a car or deal with matters of our health without expert advice, without consulting those with knowledge and experience.....
A third ingredient is the cultivation of wisdom, the power of discernment, the ability to understand what we know, to evaluate what we have learned.....Knowledge of the insights bequeathed to us from the past is enriching, but of little value unless we have the wisdom to employ it.
There is no wisdom at first sight. It comes out of the crucible of a quest. It emerges out of the dialogue between the mind and the soul, between thought and experience, between concerted effort and the grace of expanded consciousness. It is an acquisition that must be pursued as well as a gift that must be bestowed.
Wisdom begins not with problem solving, but with problem finding. The wise person may be detected by the quality of problems posed, and by the process undertaken to provide responses to those problems.
Wisdom is basically counsel about how life should be lived.
We are thereby able to transcend the ordinary, to find the self by losing self-consciousness, to see ourselves and our world from a higher, more expansive plane. We are then able to shift attention from snapshots to the big picture. Wisdom demands commitment to an idea, an ideal, a relationship that transcends the confines of the self. Wisdom informs us that to fulfill the self we must transcend the self, that the path to self-fulfillment stands outside of our selves, that to be who we are we must become more than we are....While self-fulfillment must begin with the self, within the self, it must lead beyond the self. Paradoxically, self-fulfillment must entail self-transcendence....
A fourth ingredient is imagination. We need to transcend ourselves in order to envision who we yet can become.
At the core of creativity is fantasy, imagination. In creating one's life as a work of art, knowledge is important, wisdom is required, but creativity is crucial.
The creative person attempts to use what we know to transcend what we know in order to create something and someone unprecedented.
Crafting the soul begins with our own vision, with our own dream of who we want to be, of what kind of person we want to become.....
A fifth ingredient in crafting the soul is the inculcation of humility....
The truly creative person knows that setting aside the ego is necessary for the creative process to proceed unhampered by one's being overly self-conscious. Such a person realizes that the ego can serve as the greatest obstacle to free creative expression.
In a sense, pride blinds us when we look at ourselves because it prevents us from seeing who we truly are. It thereby stifles us from becoming who we really can become.
The depressed person is ego obsessed with how miserable he or she is.
In this view, anger is a form of ego obsession....Depression is a form of anger directed against one's own self.
Obsessive preoccupation with the ego is bad for our health, both physically and spiritually.....
Finally, let us consider three important antidotes to pride. The first is considering the vicissitudes of life. The rich can become poor, the healthy ill, the powerful weak, the famous obscure. What might engender arrogance today might be gone tomorrow. Sometimes life is like a wheel of fortune - one day we are on top and the next day we are not. A second antidote to pride is a confrontation with the reality of our own mortality.
A sixth component of artful existence is the need to make choices, judgments, commitments - the decision to decide....
Having dreamed our dreams, having become sensitized to the dangers of self-deception, having embarked upon the quest for knowledge and wisdom, we inevitably reach a point when a leap of faith is necessary, when it is time to take a risk, to make a choice, to act - even if it ultimately ends up as not being the optimum choice, the best choice, or the right choice....
A seventh ingredient in crafting the soul entails the focusing of one's thoughts, choices, commitments, and actions on what matters most, on what is most meaningful. This requires two things: (1) the thoughtful choice of a task, a goal, a project with meaning, and (2) the discipline to focus on that task.
All meditative techniques are ways to achieve and to sharpen the ability to focus. Meditation aims at two things: focusing concentrated attention on something, and shutting out extraneous "static" filtering into one's consciousness from elsewhere.
An eighth component relates to the enactment of meaningful goals. Crafting the soul entails the enactment of an action plan to articulate in deeds those ideas, commitments, and values that matter most.
One must further evaluate whether the goal fits into one's sense of purpose and value, that is, whether achieving the goal is worth the risk, the potential pain, and the frustration that achieving it might entail.
p 143 - 144
In choosing goals, balance is important. Opportunities for action must be balanced with one's available capacities and skills....Similarly, the creation of one's own particular life as a work of art means balancing fantasies with innate and developed abilities, unrestrained dreams with achievable challenges and goals. Being aware of one's real limitations is a source of power rather than of weakness....
Awareness of one's limitations should not be viewed as an exercise in closing possibilities, but as one of clarifying options.
Two critical components of the spiritual life are the recognition of limitations and the actualization of potentiality. In this task, a person must employ the judgment of neither overestimating their limitations nor of underestimating their potentialities.
Challenges and goals require appropriate skills.
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. Yet many people mistakenly identify the constant and relentless pursuit of goals as behavior that precludes the opportunity for fun, pleasure, and leisure. This is because they fail to realize that meaningful activity, and the psychic rewards that come from accomplishment of intrinsically fulfilling tasks, are fun and pleasurable as well as meaningful and fulfilling. For the person in flow, there is no better use of work time, leisure time - of any time - than to focus on achieving autotelic goals.
Human beings apparently need purposeful and structured activity to achieve meaning, and to prevent themselves from becoming bored.
The creative possibilities of solitude issue from the person who is not dependent upon external stimuli, but who is in control of his or her inner space. The better furnished with ideas, knowledge, fantasies, dreams, plans, projects, and goals the inner self is, the more creatively a person can both enjoy and utilize his or her solitude.
A ninth ingredient in crafting the soul is the cultivation of moral values. What we value is that which matters most to us, that which elicits meaning from life. How we cultivate the moral virtues relates most directly to what kind of person we want to be and how to become that person.
Art-making is a powerful tool for discovering your callings
Posted Sep 19, 2018
“When I ask, ‘Where is my soul, how do I meet it, what does it want now?’ the answer is, ‘turn to your images.’ ” — Jungian author James Hillman
Art-making, whether conjured by a stick in the dirt or generated by computers, is a primitive impulse, something we express instinctively. It draws out of us shapes, images, memories and stories that can propel the process of self-discovery so essential to the discernment of our callings.
That is, we can use art to bring us in line with our calls.
“Art is an articulator of the soul’s uncensored purpose and deepest will,” writes Shawn McNiff in Art as Medicine. Through it you can see your calls in writing and in pictures, make scale models and blueprints of them, conjure up visual aids. You can also reactivate the mind of the child within you, which knows what it knows with great simplicity and accuracy. In fact, the last time many of us engaged in artmaking was when we were children, and in most of us an artist died young and an adult survived.
All artistic practices, says writer Bharati Mukherjee, are “satellite dishes for hearing the signals the soul sends out,” and each artform individually offers unique contributions to the work of discerning calls. Drawing and painting expand our ability to visualize. Writing helps us tap into the stories we tell about our lives. Dance increases our range of movement and shows us how we position ourselves and move through the world. Through drama we act on what we know.
Ultimately, the work of both creativity and discernment share many commonalities. They both increase your ability to “draw out,” to call into being, what didn’t exist in your life before. Just as sculptors often speak of freeing forms from stone or wood rather than creating them, you, too, through the artistic process, can work to liberate the spirit trapped in matter, the soul implicit in what the alchemists called the massa confusa of your life. You work—and ideally you learn—to separate your own calls from the background noise.
This is exactly why I began my own journal-writing at the age of 19, and have kept at it every year since. I was, at that time, contemplating making the first big decision of my independent young life—quitting the college where I had financial aid because I hated it there, and transferring to one that offered classes in journalism. I not only had to discern a call, but contend with much background noise, including my parents’ confoundment and the loss of the financial aid.
The journalling and self-reflection, the sometimes hours of unabashed and occasionally runny and confessional writing and storytelling I did in the months before that decision, helped me find my voice, my clarity, and my courage. It mirrored my struggle and called me deeper into it. And it was instrumental in precipitating the change I eventually made, because the simple act of recording my behavior interfered with that behavior, giving me a quasi-outside perspective on myself and the opportunity to make adjustments.
Through that first journal I discovered that though there’s a social language I’m compelled to speak and often struggle to make my own, there’s also a private language, a way I speak only to myself. Each time I use it I strengthen my connection to myself. The journal thus became a safe place in which to rehearse my feelings before articulating them to others.
A decade or so later I sat down and divided a piece of paper into three columns and made lists comparing the characteristics of the three arts to which I had devoted most of my own creative energies: writing, piano-playing, and drawing. When I was finished, I realized that the three lists were identical, that all these arts are leavened by the same ingredients: composition, tone, drama, color, surprise. They're all glass-bottom boats over the unconscious. And they all involve the exploration of priorities and the tasks of discernment: what must be kept and what must be discarded, what left in and what left out, what’s important to express and what’s not important.
Like calls themselves, creativity involves you in the work—and the challenges—of getting what's on the inside out. Your passions, your voice and visions, your sense of purpose, your hunger to serve.
But if self-discovery is your intention in art-making, if you want to draw out the calls that are embedded deep in the soul, then the more emphasis you put on formal standards of art and aesthetics, the less raw personality you'll probably see in whatever you create. When you make discernment of your callings your priority, the “quality” of your creative efforts is determined by how honest they are, how true the expressions are to your inner experiences. It's not determined by popularity, marketability, technique or talent. Think of yourself as having genius in the original sense of the word, which meant having a genie, a guardian spirit, which everyone possesses.
If you’re more concerned with virtuosity than expression and spontaneity, more intent on technique than emotion, more concerned with end-product than process and what the painter Robert Henri called “the art spirit,” you’re going to suffer a certain self-consciousness around art. It’s been shown that when people attempting to be creative know they’re being watched, they feel cowed and their art is less spontaneous and expressive.
But you don’t need to compare yourself with anyone else in order to feel intimidated. Your own standards are quite sufficient to put you at a disadvantage, especially if your art resembles something rendered by a first-grader. Again, by first grade, most of us were well into trading off spontaneity for conformity, and had already begun putting the brakes on making pictures, telling stories, dancing around the room and singing. So when you start up again, it makes perfect sense that you’d pick up where you left off.
In fact, you probably should. Just pick up an oil crayon or colored pencil and simply move it around on a page, see what emerges, see how it feels, see if you can keep your mental mitts off the process. Or wrangle with a lump of clay, which, being entirely tactile, is especially good if you tend to get marooned up in your head; shape it into an emotional self-portrait. Or take scissors to a stack of magazines and put together a collage depicting your state of mind or your hidden self or a composite of the person your parents would love you to be.
Or, as author Deena Metzger suggests, write a paragraph every word of which begins with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A, going to Z. “All big calls demand elongated fidelity...” or “A big corpulent dog eats fruit given him in jest...” etc.—and then write for ten minutes about some segment of it, a phrase or word that grabs your attention.
Or take a mood and make it move, find out what part of the body it wants to express itself through; move like an animal or the motion of underwater plants, spin in circles, shout or growl, make horrible faces.
Or take your camera, pick a theme—change, risk, nurturing, surrender, triumph, conflict—and head out for an afternoon to capture it.
Or just take a doodle pad into your next staff meeting.
What you’re after is letting the unconscious go on a roll with a paintbrush in its hand, or a hunk of clay or a keyboard, granting yourself permission to speak from the heart. The more you can make explicit that which is implicit in you, the more familiar you become with yourself, and the more material you make available to your art. You generate momentum, tap into knowledge that’s locked away in memory, and refuse to wait for divine inspiration to strike.
The technique called free-association greatly helps this process of self-discovery. Developed by Sigmund Freud, it means any activity—spoken, drawn, danced, sung—that removes the censors from self expression and allows images, impressions or emotions to flow unhindered. Free-association is about brainstorming, imagineering, wool-gathering, and the wilder and woolier the better. The motto of free-association is “garbage is good.”
In free-associating, you learn to follow your instincts, says Naomi Newman, an actress with A Travelling Jewish Theater. She considers improvisation (any kind of impromptu composing, whether in music, movement or drama) to be excellent training for following your physical, sensory and emotional impulses. “If you feel two impulses,” she says, “go with the one that has the greatest risk for you. It will be by far the most interesting.”
Improvisation has helped foster in her the understanding that, in listening for calls, “the answers don’t ultimately come cerebrally. You may discuss a call, contemplate it, weigh the pros and cons, and vascillate, but eventually you just know. You feel it.”
Here’s how free-association works: gather your tools—your charcoals or tape-deck, your body or voice, your fingers suspended over the keyboard—and pick a subject, any subject, or formulate a question you want answered. Take ten minutes and begin to write, talk, sing or dance. Don’t stop, don’t think, don’t let the critic get a word in edgewise. (The critic’s proper place is after creativity, not on top of it.) Follow your imagination as it breaks into a run, dashes up hills, down hairpin turns, through tunnels and thickets and mud, and into rabbit holes—wherever it goes. If you reach a point when you say to yourself, “That’s it. There’s no more,” keep going for another five minutes. Frustration is often an edge, not an ending. If you find yourself blocked, write or sing or draw a picture about being blocked.
The making of consciousness, Hillman once said, is about keeping things in conversation, and unconsciousness nothing more than letting things fall out of conversation. If you were to listen to a tape-recording of an hour of therapy—the attempt at raising consciousness—what you'd hear is simply a conversation, a dialogue, ultimately, between a person and himself or herself, a pow-wow with one’s own soul.
The theologian Thomas Merton even suggested that art attunes the soul not just to itself but to God. Inasmuch as it brings us into present time and allows us a few blessed minutes or hours of self-forgetfulness, wholly absorbed and fascinated, the creative act is a version of what some call peak experiences and others call mystical experiences.
By immersing yourself in any creative activity, you bring on a sense of rapt attention, of rapture, of departure from ego, from time and place. You see into the heart of things and get a glimpse of something that was previously hidden.