How We Define Ourselves
I consider myself many things: student, athlete, alcoholic, foodie, cook, writer, and husband-to-be just to name a few. I could place any number of adjectives in front of these words to further define my past, present or future, but is any single word or phrase fully able to describe my ultimate contribution in life? Do certain actions hold greater weight in helping me achieve my goals or in another’s perception of my ‘worth’?
In response to a recent NPR piece that reflects upon the markers that define our personal identity in the context of an seemingly loving and heartfelt obituary, I can’t help but wonder what markers I am laying in my mission to improve lives through the application of food, fitness and self-awareness.
The only way I know how to figure out if I am truly creating the change that I desire without direct feedback from others is to ask myself a few questions that may better help me discern my truth.
Am I setting a positive example for those around me to better understand that which I claim to represent?
Am I emotionally and physically invested in my pursuits so that I can best fulfill my obligations to work, family and community?
Am I taking the appropriate amount of time to relax and recover from the physical and psychological stress of everyday life?
Am I working to become more self-aware each day so that I can continue on my journey in spirituality?
Am I participating in the activities that make life truly special?
There are, of course, many more questions that we could ask in order to better assess our current contribution in life, but the idea is still the same. In order to better understanding our impact (and, ultimately, which words get applied posthumously), we need to be fully aware of the actions we take that either accelerate or retard growth and success.
In my experience, finding these answers requires patience, as they are not always immediately clear. Emotion, perception, and bias all interfere with our ability to recognize if there is a ‘disconnect’ between mission and action. No matter, as long as we know the answers will appear when we are honest and open to the process of self-discovery. If I hope to accomplish the goals I have laid out for myself, I have to be willing to take the risks that will help me succeed, which include embracing the uncomfortable feeling I get when I reflect upon my emotions and potentially conflicting actions.
So, what am I doing today in order to advance my mission?