I Hate My Job! . . . . and . . . . Three Ideas for Awakening

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As soon as you rise above mere survival, the question of meaning and purpose becomes of paramount importance in your life.  Many people feel caught up in the routines of daily living that seem to deprive their life of significance.  Some believe life is passing them by or has passed them by already.  Others feel severely restricted by the demands of their job and supporting a family or by their financial or living situation.  Some are consumed by acute stress, others by acute boredom.  Some are lost in frantic doing; other are lost in stagnation.  Many people long for the freedom and expansion that prosperity promises.  Others already enjoy the relative freedom that comes with prosperity and discover  that even that is not enough to endow their lives with meaning.  There is no substitute for finding true purpose.  But the true or primary purpose of your life cannot be found on the outer level.  It does not concern what you do but what you are–that is to say, your state of consciousness.  So the most important thing to realize is this: Your life has an inner purpose and an outer purpose.  Inner purpose concerns Being and is primary.  Outer purpose concerns Doing and is secondary.

Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth

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As I read this for the first time I instantly thought back over my own life.  The concept of simply Being without doing seemed foreign and uncomfortable.  I had to be doing something in order to feel good about myself.  I had to:

Get the girl

Pass the test

Make the basket

Get the job

Have the children

Build the house

Buy the car

Watch the show

Cheer for the team

Attend the service

Get the degree

Mow the lawn

Secure the loan

Work the overtime

Make the sale

Tell the funny joke

and God knows do everything else under the sun.

All my activities weren’t bad in-and-of themselves–I still do many of the same activities now.  But I turned to these Outer purpose activities as a means to gain Inner purpose.  As you can imagine, it never worked.  I constantly had my thinking backwards.  I thought I could do, do, do and that would lead to Being.  I let my mind run my life and struggled to ever find any balance or satisfaction.

“Your inner purpose is to awaken.  It is as simple as that.” Tolle goes on, “You share that purpose with every other person on the planet–because it is the purpose of humanity.  Your inner purpose is an essential part of the purpose of the whole, the universe and its emerging intelligence.”  When you first hear that, it doesn’t feel right so you disregard it.  At least I did.

“It certainly cannot be that easy, can it?”

“All I have to do is awaken?”

“If I awaken and that is my inner purpose, how can that change my life or the world in any way?”

“I am awake!”

Your mind is probably going in a thousand different directions as to why this can’t be true and your ego is certain to protect your standard mode of operation you’ve been living with for so long.

Spinoza said Joy is man’s passage from a lesser to a greater perfection and Sorrow is man’s passage from a greater to a less perfection.  In his book, To Have or To Be, Erich Fromm explains it like this: “Joy, then, is what we experience in the process of growing nearer to the goal of becoming ourself.”  Or, to put it another way, Joy is the result of seeking your inner purpose of awakening.

I have struggled off and on for years not being satisfied with my job.  On many occasions I nearly made the decision to quit and pursue a vocation more suited to my gifts and talents.  I’m sure if I did quit I would have been just fine finding a different way to make money.  But thankfully I didn’t quit my job.  I say thankfully because if I quit, I may not have learned the lesson that my inner purpose is to awaken.  When I made my job responsible for satisfying my inner purpose, I felt frustrated, lacking, and unfulfilled.  But once I realized my job was my outer purpose and my inner purpose was up to me to fulfill, then I could go about my business of awakening on my own time separate from my job.

The process of awakening is a slow and ever-evolving process.  I spent many years in therapy and began to dissect my thought processes one at a time.  I walked away from my comfort zones in order to intentionally weed out any beliefs that didn’t serve my inner purpose.  Rather than blaming my upbringing, or other people, or circumstances beyond my control, I found greater purpose in focusing on my reactions to things.  I’m a fairly laid back person anyway, but for me, learning to simply be, instead of react, turned out to be my best response.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was an expert at figuring out what was expected of me and giving people what they wanted, but I did not always acknowledge what it was that I wanted.  With every fruitless search for external gratification, I lost touch of my own intrinsic happiness until I finally set my sights on my inner purpose.

Awakening doesn’t mean that I have “arrived” and I’m somehow superior to those not considered awakened.  Awakening, to me, simply means I show up every day–I listen when spoken to, I strive for awareness in each moment, and I’m open to the mysterious flow of our existence here.  Awakening means I bring my true self to every encounter instead of relying on my alienated self or one of many false selves.  By being real, I am free to grow.  Awakening means I let go of my regrets, shame, guilt, and accusations and instead I accept what will be will be.  I attempt to let go of my attachment to any outcome and find joy in any circumstance.

Interestingly enough, as I turned my focus on my inner purpose of awakening, my outer purpose shifted into alignment with my inner purpose.  Instead of hating my job, I actually began to enjoy myself there.  I found purpose and contentment in an environment where bitterness and begrudging once resided. The joy that I experienced in my early-morning writing and meditation snuck into my lunch pail and accompanied me throughout the day.  The constant wrestling with ideas in my mind while I was at work shielded me from the petty gossip and never-ending drama that unfolds there.  Some days I added fuel to the fire just for shits and giggles but I could easily detach myself from taking any of the drama too seriously or too personal.

This whole idea of awakening may seem foreign to you.  If it does we could talk about it if you’d like.  Otherwise, here’s three ideas for your own awakening:

  1. Consider the difference between your inner purpose and your outer purpose.  In what ways have you been unjustly making your outer purpose be responsible for your inner purpose?  It wasn’t until I realized the importance of my inner purpose that I began to give it the attention it deserved.  Let go of the idea of awakening as only a Buddhist reference.  Awakening, Being, Presence, Aliveness, True Self, etc. are all deeply spiritual references and can be applied to any religious preference.
  2. Consider the different ways you stay distracted.  Instead of turning to your phone, TV, or novel reading, open up a pad of paper and write down your thoughts.  Journal about your uneasiness or discomfort of sitting still with yourself.  Is there too much pain your hiding so you don’t want to be alone with yourself?  Putting your ideas and feelings on paper where they can be wrestled with is a wonderful step towards healing and awakening.
  3. Consider a regular practice of meditating.  Meditation was difficult for me at first.  I could only start with five minutes without going crazy.  Eventually I grew to love that quiet time where I completely shut off my mind and focused on nothing by the air that filled my lungs and diaphragm, and then on that same life-giving air as it left my body.  You don’t have to sit a certain way with your hands in a special pose; just get comfortable, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing while everything else melts away.  As your mind shoots a million different thoughts at you, simply see the thought and let it go the way you would see a butterfly land on your knee and then let it fly away.  Don’t judge yourself for having too many thoughts–especially at first–because the mind is very difficult to silence until you get comfortable with it.

As always, any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to comment, call, or email.

Peace my friends!

~Travis

My Trusting Place . . . . and Joanne

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“We give most to others when we are fully ourselves. ‘Don’t ask what the world needs,’ philosopher Howard Thurman once said, ‘Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.'”

Theo Pauline Nestor in Writing is My Drink

I spoke for over two hours on the phone yesterday with my dearest friend from Boston–Joanne Susi.  I first got to know Joanne in a life coaching class I was taking several years ago.  Thankfully for me, Joanne was the instructor that facilitated our learning every week.  I’ve often said, watching Joanne lead our life coaching training was similar to watching Michael Jordan sink a last second shot for an NBA title, or like watching Wayne Gretzky slice through the entire opposing team to make a miraculous wrist shot through the goalie’s legs. Basically, watching Joanne use her gifts and talents gave one the feeling they were witnessing greatness.  I told her all this in one of our classes and in front of all her students, the ever-so-talkative confident Italian lady was stopped dead in her tracks.  She was speechless.  There was an eerie silence amongst the class so I took that as my cue to continue.  I asked her–no I basically begged her–to please continue to share her gifts and talents with the world because if she’s off doing some menial task then she’s not doing what she does best.  This planet needs the Joanne Susi’s of the world to spread their gifts and talents as far and wide as possible.  I told her if there’s a task she doesn’t particularly like to do that’s draining, pay someone else to do it for her.  I also told her we needed her to do as much of what she does best as often as possible.

After a couple sniffles and a short pause, Joanne said, “Thank you, Travis” and we’ve been fast friends ever since.

Being great friends with a phenomenal life coach has many advantages.  The first and most obvious advantage is the wisdom and clarity she brings to our conversations.  She flawlessly switches hats from friend to coach and back to friend without ever blinking an eye.  The next thing I admire about our friendship is her unwavering love and support for me.  There is nothing in the world I could say to her that would cause her to love me any less.  When you receive that kind of love–without any conditions or strings attached–you really feel like you can make it through anything.

Another thing I love about our friendship is we have a continual ebb and flow of helping one another.  She helps me and I help her.  We are both here to serve the other any way possible.  For instance, Joanne had a vision of writing a book but she felt lost trying to gain any traction on it.  I asked her to please send me what she wrote so far to which she agreed to do.  She emailed me about eight to ten different documents that each had a good deal of writing on them.  My first thought was to compile all these documents into one so we would be working on what appeared to be a whole book.  I then started the process of proofreading and editing the entire book for her.  There were days when I called her and told her she needed to expand on what she wrote.  I pleaded with her to dig deeper and share more of who she was with the reader in certain places.  She agreed and I’m happy to say her book is now on the market!

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After her book–BRAINSTORM: From STROKE To My TRUSTING Place–was published, Joanne told me she was done writing.  I said, “Really? I believe you have a lot of books still in you just waiting to be written.”  She replied with a thank you but graciously said she had no desire to write any more.  I didn’t push but I simply left the possibility open with a gentle, “Okay, we’ll see.”

I say all this about Joanne because she said something to me yesterday that is very important.  We talked about my blog, about me writing a book, and about my own trusting place.  She mentioned how writing truly is my trusting place where I recharge my batteries and where I have communion with God.  Whenever there is anything going on in my life, I can turn to writing–my trusting place–in order to find comfort and solace.  No matter what I may be facing, as long as I have my fountain pen and journal in tow, I’m certain to find relief.

Something else I have learned along the way is what happens when I neglect my trusting place for too long.  If I let a week or God-forbid two weeks go by without wrestling with some idea through my pen or the keyboard, then I turn into a complete ass.  I get grumpy, impatient, bitter, and fatalistic.  I lose sight of who I am and why I’m here.  I forget about my intention for writing in the first place.  My intention (in every aspect of my writing) is to help people be more comfortable with their humanness.  If I’m having a difficult day or being a touch on the insensitive side, my wife has a wonderful way of asking me if I’ve written anything lately.  I then begrudgingly tell her no and then sheepishly sneak off to my trusting place the first chance I get.

I say all this because I never really understood the concept of my trusting place until Joanne and I talked about it.  And there’s no doubt in the world that writing is my trusting place.  Writing is where I meet with Divine.  Writing is where I come face to face with life and what it means to be human.  Writing is where I make sense of our existence and why we are here.  Writing gives me energy, it creates a spark and changes my outlook on life in ways I can barely begin to describe.

I created MysteriousFlow.com back in 2012 as a place to share some of my trusting place with others.  I only post a small percent of my writing here.  If I posted all my thoughts that gets wrestled with in my journals and on the computer you might consider me a lunatic or schizoid (not that you don’t already).

I’m wondering, what or where is your trusting place?  Have you considered the idea that you have a trusting place where you go to recharge and breathe new life into yourself?  Where do you go to speak to Divine, to find your Muse, or to discover your Authentic Self?

My dearest friend, Joanne, had a stroke before she was able to find her trusting place.  Now she lives in her trusting place every day.  Her biggest desire is to help people find their trusting place without having to experience a stroke like she did.

Give it some thought and consider where or what your trusting place may be.  Is it painting? Drawing? Running? Cutting wood? Riding your motorcycle or other piece of equipment? Working out? Time spent in a busy coffee shop? A long walk around the block? A sunset in a pristine location? Traveling someplace new? A night with friends and wine? A moving church service? Yoga? Mowing the lawn? Sailing? Writing? Riding a horse? Golfing? Meditation? Fishing or hunting? Music?

Your trusting place could be one or several things that rejuvenates your soul and invigorates your spirit.  Even when life gets stressful and your job is taking you through the ringer, your trusting place is always right there to lift you up anytime you need it. My trusting place is a concept that has taken me years to fully grasp but now that I understand it, I hope you can see its importance as well.

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Family issues, relationship drama, disrespectful teenagers, stressful jobs, or annoying bullies all melt away when you’re in your trusting place.  Opposite the old slogan, “Calgon, take me away,” your trusting place is not an escape from your life, but rather a call to life.  Your trusting place is where you make sense of it all and find meaning and create purpose.  If you’re looking for an escape there’s always computer solitaire, television, booze, or tabloids.

So what’s your trusting place?  Do you have one?  If not, pay attention over the next few weeks and I’m certain it will reveal itself.  Oh, and if you don’t have someone amazing like Joanne in your life, I would highly recommend that too!!

Peace my friends!

~Travis

Your Flow Has Got To Go!!

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Your Flow Has Got To Go!!

Continuing with the theme from last night, what can we do when someone keeps messing with your flow? Do you ever wonder why it seems so easy to get sucked into somebody’s drama? Whether they’re your spouse, relative, acquaintance, or coworker, you don’t have to accept their garbage.

I’m trying to figure something out. If someone drove their truck to your house, let down the tailgate, and started throwing their trash all over your yard you would be furious. You would demand they pick up THEIR trash and you would probably never allow them back to your place. Why, then, do you willingly serve as a human dumpster for other people’s emotional garbage?

Dumped garbage in your yard; you’re instantly furious.

Dumped emotional garbage on your flow; you let them drop it off and leave while you are left to clean it up.

Whenever I’m coaching someone I always tell them, “You teach people how to treat you.” What you’re willing to put up with is a loud and clear unspoken message for how you feel you deserve to be treated. You have a parent that goes way beyond their healthy boundaries? They will continue to until you teach them how to treat you. You have a spouse that walks all over you? They will continue to until you teach them how to treat you. You have a coworker that is driving you nuts? They will continue to until you teach them how to treat you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with defining how you will be treated by others. More specifically, you MUST protect your flow at all cost. If you are not vigilantly protecting your flow on a daily basis, someone will most certainly disrupt it.

Having healthy expectations and clear boundaries are essential to keeping in touch with your mysterious flow. Fanning the flames to your dreams and actively pursuing them are also essential to staying in the flow.

Let’s face it, you probably come across somebody on a daily basis whose flow is disrupting your flow. Instead of taking it personal or getting sucked into their drama, simply tell them their flow has got to go! It’s their garbage, not yours, so don’t take ownership of one ounce of it. Remember, you’re teaching them how you’re willing to be treated with every encounter.

Good luck!

~Travis