Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Let go of judgments

Have you ever engaged in the comparison game? You've compared yourself to others—and found yourself falling short? Or you've compared others to yourself—and found yourself judging them harshly?

Neither of these is helpful, is it? Each one of us is unique. There's no one else on the planet just like you. Or me. No one who looks like you. No one who has my specific personality traits. No one who has the exact combination of skills and gifts you have. And no one with my particular experiences. And no one who's gained the specific wisdom you have.

How about if we give up comparison thinking? What if we let go of judgments? How might our lives be different if we let go of such thinking? If we focus more on acceptance, gratitude and love?

I think I'll put that on the top of my to-do list every day: Focus on acceptance, gratitude and love. I know it's a tall order. But I think I'll be the better for trying. So will the world! What do you think?

Monday, September 29, 2014

'Inhabit your moments'

These days we hear so much about the importance of living in the moment. It may sound trite after a while. But that doesn't mean it's not important.

Writer Jerry Spinelli put it this way: "Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don't rent them out to tomorrow."

I especially like those last two sentences. "Inhabit your moments." Inhabit means "live in or occupy." That suggests far more than our body being in the moment, doesn't it? To really occupy something means to be fully present: body, mind and spirit. And "Don't rent them out to tomorrow." Yes, indeed. Our moments aren't for rent. Not to anyone else. And not even to us for another day. 

It's not easy, however. I'll be the first to admit that. Sometimes we're caught up in regret—or even in the delicious remembering of past events. And sometimes we're caught up in worry about the future—or even in the joyful anticipation of upcoming events. That's all well and good. But if either of those steals us away from the present, we're missing out on so much of life. All we can do is our best—trying to stay awake and aware so we can savor each moment as it happens. Focus on right now. Pay attention to all your senses. Be here now.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Forgive: Lighten up

There's nothing quite like forgiveness to lighten your load. Are you carrying around something today that requires forgiveness? Perhaps it's a wrong or slight by someone else. Or maybe you need to forgive yourself.

Whatever it is, I encourage you to do everything in your power to begin the process of forgiveness. Yes, forgiveness is a process. Some people say they instantly forgive someone who hurts or harms them. More often, however, it happens incrementally. You forgive someone for the harm they did to you. Then one day your anger flashes once again as you think of that act. So you forgive them again. You do this as often—and for as long—as you need until you feel free of the weight of it all.

Forgiveness benefits your health and well-being. Typically, it doesn't change life for the person who hurt you (though there are times someone really waits for that word of forgiveness from you). It profoundly affects you, however, as you let go of a heavy load of baggage that you've been carrying around. I cannot say it any better than does Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have. He says about forgiveness: "Forgiveness has deeper rewards than excusing someone for how they have hurt us. The deeper healing comes in the exchange of our resentments for inner freedom." Ah, yes. Inner freedom.

It needs to be pointed out, too, that forgiving doesn't necessarily mean forgetting. Some acts are so hurtful and horrendous that it's not possible to forget: such things, for example, as sexual abuse or murder. Forgiving such acts may require you to seek help from a professional. If that would help, I encourage you to do so. You'll feel so much lighter, even when you just begin the forgiveness process.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Aging & limitations

Have you experienced some loss of agility, mobility or capacity as you age? If you have, and if you're like most of the rest of us, you feel a sense of loss about that.

Our hearing and eyesight decline, new aches and pains surface, we are diagnosed with one ailment or another (or perhaps several)—and sometimes, we even face serious and difficult illness. We can't move as quickly as we used to do. We awaken in the morning a little more stiff. We may even have to give up some activities we used to enjoy because our bodies just don't cooperate anymore.

While we want to take the aging process and bodily changes in stride, it's also important to take time to grieve those losses that really affect us. If you keenly feel one or more of these losses, take time to do some grief work, whatever that may look like for you. Perhaps it means some sort of ritual or talking it over with trusted friends. It may mean drawing and/or journaling about it. What will help you pay attention to your feelings and then let go? What will help you move on to embrace what you can do?

Death isn't the only loss that's worthy of grieving. Many of life's losses need attention. Certainly aging and limitations that accompany it deserve attention. Once you acknowledge the loss and grieve it, you can more easily move on to a place of hope. Then it's easier to be with what is rather than constantly living in anger, resentment, shame or fear about what was and what's ahead. What needs attention in your life today?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Four ways to be known

I heard an interesting sermon last Sunday on being authentic and reaching our God-given potential. The pastor mentioned four different ways of being known.

First, there's a surface knowledge we have of one another. We know certain facts about acquaintances and those in our circle. You know these things, and the person with whom you have that surface relationship knows them. These are essential factual pieces of information.

Second, there are the masks we wear. We know who the real us is. Others do not. That's because we don't want to fully reveal ourselves to each other. We want to project ourselves in the best light, so we tend to hold back certain thoughts and behaviors. If and when we feel safe with someone, we may show more of our true self to that person and so be known on a deeper level.

Third, we each have our blind spots. These often are known by others but not seen by us. Some areas of our behavior we either choose to not see or truly don't see at all. Others, especially those close to us, known our blind spots. For example, we may be extremely sensitive to criticism and not even be aware of it ourselves. Others can see, however, that we get easily offended and hurt.

Fourth, our potential is known by God—and sometimes by us. Other times we have no idea of our own potential. Sometimes those close to us may see some of that potential, too. It's too easy to look at our perceived flaws and not see what's possible.

These last three ways are worth our attention. Can we remove our masks and be more authentic? Can we hear about our blind spots and make some changes? Can we fully see—and then realize—our potential? What must happen for you to live into your authentic self?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Connect with your center

My women's book club recently read and discussed Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea together with the historical fiction book about her life with Charles Lindbergh, The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin.

We agreed that reading about Anne Morrow Lindbergh's life helped us understand and even more deeply appreciate her wise words, which have inspired women for several decades already. In Gift from the Sea, Lindbergh uses seashells as inspiration. She gathered shells during a time of solitude spent in a cottage at the sea—a time when she was able to gather her thoughts and sift through her life experiences to distill the wisdom contained in them.

One of the shells, a moon shell, reminded her that she needed quiet time alone, time for reflection and contemplation. She describes the shell: "On its smooth symmetrical face is pencilled with precision a perfect spiral, winding inward to the pinpoint center of the shell, the tiny dark core of the apex, the pupil of the eye." She uses that shell to talk about connecting with our core—and about the importance of finding solitude in order to do so. She was able to connect with hers in that time of being alone at the sea. But the challenge, she noted, is to carry that attitude back to a busy life. "I cannot live forever on my island," she said, speaking of the moon shell. "But I can take you back to my desk in Connecticut.... You will remind me that I must try to be alone for part of each year, even a week or a few days, and for part of each day, even for an hour or a few minutes in order to keep my core, my center, my island-quality."

That's always the challenge, isn't it? To live a centered, balanced life amid the chaos and busyness—not just apart from it. How's your connection to your center?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Feeling fried?

Are you feeling depleted? No energy? No excitement for much of anything? And not sure what to do next?

It could be that you're experiencing burnout. It seems that burnout is reaching near-epidemic proportions these days as people work extra hard to keep from falling through the cracks, to stay ahead of bills, to manage a heavier-than-usual workload given all the layoffs at many workplaces, to juggle all the demands of families and careers and more. Or even to plan for retirement—or manage it if you're already retired but are worried about the money holding out. It's exhausting to just think about it all.

Reach out for some help if that's where you find yourself. At the very least, talk it over with trusted and wise friends. Seek out a counselor with whom you can work. Or contact me if you would like to talk about this to see whether coaching might help you (I offer complimentary, no-obligation strategy sessions). I have worked with clients who were just fried and were confused about where to turn and what direction to go. It's not a fun place to be, but you can find your passion and energy again. I've seen it happen, and I'm always jazzed to be part of such a process. It's so heartening to see a client go from burnout to a place of joy and passion again.

Typically burnout doesn't go away by itself ... and there's nothing wrong with asking for help. Reach out today.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Control & choice

Actor James Dean once said, "I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."

That's a good reminder to retain our awareness of what's within our control and what is not. Changing the wind is not within our control. Adjusting our sails is. There is much in our lives that's completely out of our control. Knowing the difference is an important part of personal development—and of learning to live healthier lives.

Have you ever found yourself fighting or resisting what is? Perhaps it's an illness that struck you or a loved one. Or a change in job duties that you don't want. That struggle can be exhausting. You do have choices, even though sometimes it doesn't feel that way. At the very least, you have a choice as to how you will respond. Will you accept the job changes? Will you even make the best of them, at least until you can find a new job (if that's what you need to do)? Will you participate in choosing your treatment for the illness—and perhaps even actively seek out options yourself?

Reinhold Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer can also be a helpful reminder for such situations: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference."

Go ahead: Adjust your sails today and get where you want to go just the same. Then enjoy the serenity that follows.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Say 'yes' to incremental change

Change need not be so intimidating. Often when you and I think of changes we want or need to make in our lives, we look at the whole kielbasa, right?! What if, instead, we just saw change as incremental? Whatever changes you face right now, can you break them down into smaller, bite-sized chunks? One bite at a time, you'll finish the job.

I spend a good deal of time at a computer, writing blogs and ezines, answering emails, researching a variety of topics—or talking on the phone with coaching clients. That often means a lot of sitting. Although I do daily exercises, I'm still not happy with all the sitting in this lifestyle. Actually, as a magazine editor, I did plenty of sitting, too.

So when I heard someone suggest that each hour I get up and do even just one yoga pose, I jumped at the thought. Yes, that's a small step in the right direction. One yoga pose or set of stretches every hour isn't going to break my time-management bank. And my body will notice the difference, I'm sure. It will help my health. I'll feel better, be happier and be more productive, I have no doubt.

We don't climb a mountain in a single leap. So why do we think lifestyle changes have to be made in one step? What would you like to change today? Where can you start? Is there one small step you can take—and then build on that with another small step later? Go for it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Using the past

Do you look for life lessons in nature and other things around you? Are you intrigued with metaphor? I admit it's one place I find inspiration.

For example, yesterday I read the following in one of my favorite inspirational books, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo:

"The (chambered) nautilus ... builds a spiral shell, but always lives in the newest chamber. The other chambers, they say, contain a gas or liquid that helps the nautilus control its buoyancy. Even here, a mute lesson in how to use the past: live in the most recent chamber and use the others to stay afloat."

That image resonates with me because I have often felt that I've outgrown things from one stage of life and feel ready to move into a new stage or chamber. Perhaps it's ideas I've outgrown. Perhaps it's a job or an attitude. Or even a hobby. But I've found myself ready to move on. However, I have also noticed that I still use the lessons I learned from that past stage. And, of course, all those past experiences and former stages profoundly affect who I am today.

At the end of his daily reading, Nepo encouraged the reader to consider: "Is the past living in me, or am I living in this passage of the past?" Ah, interesting question. There really is a difference, isn't there? The past can live in you (and be used to "keep you afloat" as in the chambered nautilus) or you can live in the past—not a recommended way of life! You get to choose.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two things to remember for listening

I've noticed how little actual listening goes on these days. Have you?

Have you ever shared a story only to have the listener dive in with his own story the second you take a breath? You don't feel heard, right? Or perhaps the listener gave advice when all you wanted was for her to hear you. Worse yet, the listener told about a similar situation with an absolutely devastating outcome, thus striking fear into your heart. Not helpful!

I wonder whether we all need courses in listening. I am always so heartened when a friend listens deeply as I share a story—and when he asks questions that show he's really heard what I said and is interested. I feel so loved, respected and heard. On the contrary, when I share my story and the other person launches into a lengthy account of her own, I feel disregarded and diminished.

Perhaps true listening is a lost art. As I said in my last ezine (if you don't receive these, sign up for them in the space on the right where it says "Subscribe to our mailing list"), it's important to remember two things:

1) Remember that the words "listen" and "silent" contain the same letters. They are related in other ways, too!

2) We have two ears and one mouth—a good ratio for better listening.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Drop 'my way or highway' attitude

Some of my clients come to me with relationship issues. Perhaps it's a marriage relationship. Or it might be a friendship—or even a workplace relationship that is totally dysfunctional. Getting along in this world challenges each of us from time to time. It's not easy, and it definitely requires attention and intention.

I like what John M. Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman say in their book 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage. These ideas can apply to any relationship, not just marriage:

"To keep a perpetual issue from becoming gridlocked, you can
• make dialogue your goal rather than finding the perfect solution
• see the problem as a third party outside your relationship; the problem is not your partner
• recognize that there are no 'right' and 'wrong' solutions
• accept that the conflict may never go away, but you can live together peacefully anyway
• look for humor in conflict."

Don't those suggestions sound practical and helpful? I especially like the one about there not being "right" and "wrong" solutions. So often you and I become married to our way of thinking and acting, feeling it's absolutely the only correct way. Hardly a helpful position to take, right? Often, when one partner says one way and another partner says something different, there is at least a third way that's possible. Perhaps there are even several options that are workable, and you can do some brainstorming together to come up with possibilities—then select one that seems to hold the best chance for success. And always, always, remember to keep and employ your sense of humor.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A career with passion

Are you still in the midst of your career years? And are you searching for meaningful work that will make your heart sing and best use your skill sets and gifts? Perhaps you're searching for that dream career but have no idea anymore what your dream looks like.

You might consider several things as you search for that just-right career:

• What are you doing when you are completely absorbed in a project or task and lose all track of time? What does this tell you about your passion? About your gifts?

• What did you absolutely love doing when you were younger? Did you line up your dolls in a make-believe classroom and teach them? Did you love creating things in your father's workshop? Look at old photographs and remember what captured your imagination then.

• What pieces of a past or current job hold meaning for you? How might that translate into a career or job you would love?

What we have become competent doing isn't always an indicator of our passion or our dream job. So it's good to ask yourself some of these questions to see what emerges. I also highly recommend a book with its exercises as a helpful tool: Whistle While You Work: Heeding Your Life's Calling by Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro. The "Calling Card" exercise contained in the book is especially helpful.

Let me know if this is something you would like to discuss—or if you know someone else who may wish a complimentary strategy session about finding that dream career.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Self-compassion and perfectionism

Do you deal with perfectionism? I do. I often say I'm a "recovering perfectionist," although some days I have to question the recovering part. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene Brown says perfectionism is about acceptance and earning approval. "Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it." Oh, yes. I learned that well.

Brown goes on to say, "To overcome perfectionism, we need to be able to acknowledge our vulnerabilities to the universal experiences of shame, judgment, and blame; develop shame resilience; and practice self-compassion." I agree. For me, the work on being more vulnerable is an ongoing task. And self-compassion is such an important piece of that work.

Are you familiar with the term "self-compassion"? I hadn't really heard it until I saw a TED Talk by Dr. Kristin Neff on the subject. Boiled down to its most basic form, self-compassion is about not being so hard on yourself. Treat yourself the same way as you would a dear friend or beloved family member. Encourage rather than criticize yourself. Stop with the self-judgment already.

If you're a perfectionist and could do with a little more self-compassion, choose one thing you can change today. Work on it each day for a month. Remember, it takes a long time to develop new habits. And if you'd like to discuss this topic (with a recovering perfectionist!), I invite you to contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation session.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's not about the fear

Fear is something with which we all deal from time to time. It can be absolutely debilitating and immobilizing if we let it. Not one of us escapes its grip. But I really like what poet and novelist Audre Lorde had to say about fear: "When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." Yes, it's not the fear that's important; it's the vision, the service you are offering that's key.

In fact, I heard something last week that also resonated: When fear does come calling, acknowledge it. Look it in the eye; do not ignore it. Fear is like a mischievous toddler and if ignored, will only act out even more to get your attention. So do acknowledge it. Tell the fear that you see it but that you're just fine, thank you very much. And just keep moving forward.

But here's the part I really liked about what I heard: Place your focus elsewhere and not on the fear. Find something in the dream or project or task you're pursuing or undertaking (and which is bringing up the fear in you) that can totally absorb you, that lightens your heart or engages your passion. Focus on that and not on the fear. It can shrink your fear down to a more manageable size. For example, some time ago when my fear grabbed me by the throat before a keynote talk I was to present, I greeted my fears and then shifted my focus to all the women to whom I would be speaking and the fact that each one would be coming with hopes, dreams and needs. I focused instead on wanting to inspire each woman and give her something she could take home that would motivate her. That didn't necessarily remove my fear—but it certainly made it manageable.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Count your blessings

Some friends and I spent several hours this past Sunday at our friend Lynn's home. On her mantle she had two decorative plaques, each containing one word. One was "simplify" and the other was "blessings."

Lynn explained that she put them together because she noticed that it's when she simplifies her life and her surroundings that she is far more aware of her blessings. Yes!

Lynn always has such profound insights. That one really resonated—in so many ways. When my life is chaotic and too full of activities and tasks, I don't pause to reflect on my blessings. And when I don't do that, I don't even see many of them that are there every day. When my head is full of inner voices—many of which no longer belong there or really never did (you're not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough; you really screwed up there; who do you think you are; and many more)—I most definitely am not noticing all the blessings in my life. When I'm surrounded by too many belongings and too much "stuff," my attention goes to care and maintenance of that—and I don't focus on my blessings either.

What a good reminder: Simplify. Get rid of some of the stuff around you and some of the activities or tasks that aren't really necessary. Let go of internal voices that stop you from being the beautiful soul you were meant to be. And notice. Notice all the blessings and gifts in your life. Be thankful for them.

I know I'm going to think about Lynn's reflection and see what it means for my life. Starting today!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The key is gratitude

I've talked about gratitude both in these blogs and in my monthly ezine so often. But, really, can we talk too much about gratitude? It's such a wonderful attitude and makes such a difference in our lives when we focus on that rather than on the negative. As Johnny Mercer's lyrics said, "Accentuate the positive."Yes, accentuate it—and be grateful for it.

If you're one of those glass-half-empty people, I invite you to try find at least five things each day that are positive and for which you can feel grateful. If you do this over time, you just may start to look for life's blessings and as a result, see even more of them. And you just might overlook some of life's minor irritations, which otherwise may have become magnified in your mind.

Last week, I quoted author Melody Beattie on compassion and co-dependence. Another of her quotes resonates with me: "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more ... It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."

I like that. "It turns what we have into enough, and more ..." Doesn't that bring a smile to your face and a spring to your step? Doesn't it gladden your heart? Give gratitude space in your life

Friday, September 5, 2014

Compassion's downside

Some of my clients are compassionate and beautiful people who have a difficult time not caretaking others. Their own needs often go unmet, and they burn out over time. They often grow extremely resentful of the time and attention others suck out of them. Self-care often isn't in their vocabulary. Are you one of those people?

Compassion for others is beautiful. It's an important quality. But it can be hurtful to you, too. I especially like author Melody Beattie's take on it: "The lesson I was learning involved the idea that I could feel compassion for people without acting on it." That's really an essential learning for people who tend to be codependent, who haven't yet established good boundaries for themselves, and who caretake others to the point where their needs go unnoticed and untended.  Again, Beattie says: "Codependents are reactionaries. They overreact. They under-react. But rarely do they act. They react to the problems, pains, lives, and behaviors of others. They react to their own problems, pains, and behaviors." She knows because she's dealt with that in her own life.

If that's an issue for you, I invite you to tend to it. Beattie has written several books that might be helpful. Or talk with a counselor. If you'd simply like to discuss this, I invite you to contact me for a complimentary, no-obligation session on the topic.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Of circles and gifts

Have you ever forgotten something you wrote, said or did and years later, it came back to you bearing unexpected gifts?

Many years ago in a women's spirituality group of which I was part, I had the privilege of getting to know a woman with beautiful artistic talent. Over time, she created several works of art. Her dream was to one day publish a book of her paintings. Our group leader suggested that each of us take one or more pieces of Bev's art and write poetry or prose about what that piece said to us. Several of us took up the challenge.

Yesterday I opened my mailbox to discover a package containing a newly published book of art and poetry sent to me by my friend Bev. Her dream of many years to publish some of her art was realized! I am just thrilled for her. And to my surprise, I found four of my poems in her book. I'd forgotten them. One spoke to me anew, reminding me of life's complexity and beauty: how pain and joy exist not only side by side but often intermingled. I called this "The Center Holds":

Faster and faster they spin by
My days like blurs on a page.
Splashes of brightness and joy here.
Splotches of turbulence and pain there.
Am I paying attention?
Can I see the beauty?
Like a kaleidoscope, I hold
The twirling pieces to the light.
In the light of God's all-embracing love
The beauty emerges
And the center holds.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Recover wonder & wisdom

Socrates said it. "Wisdom begins in wonder."

Wonder. It's a concept we may not employ so much anymore. Perhaps because of all our technological and scientific advances, we tend to be fairly blase about so much. It takes a lot to impress us, a lot to stop us in our tracks, a lot to feel the "wow factor" of our surroundings or our lives.

But think about it. Really? Is there nothing out there that can amaze us these days? Just the beauty of a sunrise or sunset? Or the incredible bird choruses in early morning? Or an infant discovering she can roll over? A toddler taking first steps? A child coming home from school and reading a book on his own? The intense blue of the sky filled with fluffy white clouds? The love and devotion of a parent, a spouse, partner, child or friend? The way our bodies serve us for decades?

When we really stop to take notice, we're surrounded with things that should bring us to our knees in awe and wonder. The key words there are "stop to take notice." Develop an awareness of what's around you. Nourish gratitude for the beauty, love and sweet things in your life. Doing so ratchets up your curiosity, spurs your creativity and deepens your experience—thus increasing your wisdom. How much more can you learn when you really stop to notice what's in and around you? The possibilities are endless. Be curious. Be aware. Nurture wonder. And enjoy the wisdom that flows from that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

You're more than your fears

Fears play such a huge part in all our lives. How often does fear hold us back from being who we really were meant to be? From taking on a career or a project we really yearn to start? From saying things we want to speak? From following our dreams and passions?

I like what educator Parker J. Palmer says: "I will always have fears, but I need not be my fears, for I have other places within myself from which to speak and act."

Indeed. We do have other places inside. We do have other qualities that can inspire and give us the confidence to speak and act.

So where in your life is fear holding you back? What wisdom or passion inside can you access to move past the fear? Can you look the fear right in the eye, acknowledge it and move ahead anyway?

I can remember after my divorce having such fears about moving to a large city and putting myself out there to start a career on my own. I really had to acknowledge those fears—and for a long time, I had to rely on family and close friends to inspire and encourage me. I had to "fake it until I could make it." Soon enough, I could draw on my own wisdom and passion to get where I wanted to be. But fears are never gone for all time. They have a tendency to crop up again. Or new fears emerge. So it's not once-and-done. But it becomes easier once you've learned to face fear and dig down inside for those "other places within" from which to act, doesn't it?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Celebrate labor & purpose

Today is Labor Day in the U.S.: a day dedicated to the achievements of American workers, a day when we think about the nature of work, of vocation and career. Actually, for many it has simply become a day off work with little thought to the reason for the day. Sometimes it's good to take a moment to think about the history or background of holidays, however. Look at all that has been achieved in this country through the hard work of so many. Look at what you have done in whatever career you chose. Celebrate that. See the larger picture of what that's meant not only for you but for others affected by your job. And if your work was inside the home raising a family and caring for home, garden or perhaps even farm, think about the impact that work has had on others.

If you're retired now, think about what your new purpose is—for we're told that those who have purpose in their lives are far happier and tend to live longer and healthier lives. Perhaps you volunteer for an organization. Perhaps you are extremely engaged in the lives of your grandchildren. Maybe you serve your church or community in multiple ways. Even those who are housebound can serve others. I once read about a woman who was bedridden and housebound but who made phone calls and sent cards to others who were ill or going through hard times. She still found ways to serve—and it brought great joy into her life.

So today, why not take a few moments to consider your purpose and to look back over your career and achievements? Celebrate what you've done—and consider new ways you can be of service in the world.