Keeping Your Soul Drive Your Sole Drive

Keeping Your Soul Drive Your Sole Drive

The Union Path Podcast

"Keeping Your Soul Drive Your Sole Drive"


Like everyone else probably, the pandemic had a pretty profound effect on me. I was really fortunate. I'm really grateful that it didn't really touch me in a negative way directly. I didn't suffer any sort of job loss. There was no loss of life around me. There were a few scares here and there which were pretty terrifying, but all in all, at least from a physical health perspective, personally I came through the experience unscathed, which I was really grateful for. But quite honestly, what I'm even more grateful for are the secondary effects the pandemic had the effects of having to stay home, having to stop, not being able to involve myself in so many distractions, not being able to pursue so many different things.

And, in a funny way, the main force of the pandemic was one of stoppage. And in any time of stoppage that's a really excellent time to reevaluate, to reflect, to refocus what's important, what we're doing. And one of the most profound things that I realized is probably about the most simple thing is that you know what I was going through life, thinking all sorts of things. A myriad of things were vitally important, but what's really important, what really matters, is actually only a precious few. There really only a few things that really mattered, that were really actually important to me. And of course, we hear these kind of stories whenever someone goes through times of hardship, times of loss, usually on the other side of it, usually when they've recovered, usually when they can look back in hindsight over what they've experienced. Oftentimes the story really is that that experience exposed and informed what really matters, what's really important. You hear this when people are going through any kind of chronic illness, especially illnesses where their own mortality is in question, is threatened. Once they recover, once they come through the other side, they really have a whole new attitude. They really have a fresh perspective and the thing at least I've heard over and over again is that perspective is informed and imbued with focus with what really matters, with encountering their own mortality, and the gift to that encounter was they were shown what really mattered, what was actually important to them, that had a way of stripping and sanding off the artificial elements and aspects of their life and they are left with the fundamental. They're left much more with their own core, with the basis of their being, and often realizing the things they've been striving after, the things they've been pursuing, weren't really that worthwhile, really that meaningful. That it's so easy.

It is so easy, living a life in our modern societies, to have our attention and our focus fractured a thousand different ways. Every day there's a thousand different things clamoring for our attention, and the next day there'll be a thousand more. It's almost like our society is built up on the economy of distraction, on trading and selling distraction with one another. We are the ones choosing this. We're the ones choosing distraction, for all sorts of possible reasons, like probably the most common is that we're really trying not to feel our feelings, we're really not trying to be too aware of our life, too aware of our experience, too aware of ourselves, and thus there are endless distractions available to take our attention away, to save ourselves the strain and the struggle and perhaps the disappointment and despair of having to look at ourselves too closely, look at our lives too closely, that there are ample and willing opportunities to distract us from our own self-awareness, from our own connection with the truth of what our life is really like, what really matters to us, what we're really pursuing, what we're really getting, what our life experience is actually like, and oftentimes, going through life that is heavily distracted or heavily fractured, it kind of runs in cycles and we can find this playing out over and over and over again, of where we start out pursuing something and then we add onto it, then we add something else, and we want this also and that also. We want to try to do all the things, we want to try to be all of the things, we want to be successful in what we're doing. So we just throw whatever we can against the wall, trying to see what sticks. Then we go into a life with a bit of a fire hose mentality of placing a million tiny bets, hoping one of them actually pays off.

But when we're doing too much, when our energy is that diffuse, that fractured, that unfocused, it can not only lead to a really confusing experience, but it can actually lead to an experience where we're not really getting much back. That energy creates energy, where energy reflects energy. And so if our energy is fractured into a thousand different things, then we have a thousand different drops of energy coming back to us, but it doesn't really seem to accumulate, doesn't really seem to accrete, doesn't really seem, in the aggregate, to amount to much. And going through the cycle, doing everything we can possibly think of, doing more and more and more, or distracting ourselves more and more and more we get to a point where we just kind of spin out. We're exhausted, our system is taxed, we're not really getting anywhere. We've tried everything we can think of and it doesn't really amount to much. We're not really making much progress. We're not really getting anywhere. It seems we're kind of walking in circles or repeating the same cycles, where we find ourselves coming back to the same place over and over and over again.

Well, for me anyway, when I found myself in these kinds of situations, one of the things I try to remember to bring myself back to is the idea of focus, is the idea of keeping the main thing the main thing, because this feels far more actionable. I feel like I can do more about a set of priorities that's pretty short. I feel like I can live a set of values when they're kept fairly few, but there really is a power to focus, a power to putting my energy towards what really matters and often letting the things go that really don't. That's one of the areas where our lives are almost instantly improved is that when we focus, we tend to bring a lot more intention to our life. We tend to live our life far more on purpose, and thus things tend to get better.

And usually we're doing this out of a sense of doing rather than a sense of getting, because when our attention and our effort is fractured into a thousand different things, we can get overly focused on the outside, overly focused on the outcomes of what we're doing, but we're not really paying attention to the act itself, we're not really paying attention to the effort itself. We're just doing things to have something else happen, rather than having that doing be based out of a value system, being based out of priorities, being based out of what is actually and truly and really important to us. Because, of course, our own energy is finite. We only have so much. There are only so many hours in a day, there's only so many things we can do. And are we choosing wisely? Are we using this precious resource of our life in the best way that we can? Are we making the best investments in our life by using the only resource we actually have available? Is our life itself, is our effort, is our time, is our focus, is our contribution to the life that we're living?

And when I've experienced these sort of spin-out situations or burnout situations, if you will, I find the same lesson being revealed, being given to me every time and that, basically speaking, if I had to define what burnout is, is that burnout is a severe imbalance between the energy I'm expending and what I'm getting back of where the juice truly isn't worth the squeeze For I'm spending time and effort and energy and resources doing things that I don't really actually care all that much about, that I often don't even really want to be doing, but I'm trying to get something. But even when this works, even when I get what I want, I'm still doing things I don't. So there's a negating factor to that. It's almost like that achievement is partially, if not largely, canceled out because of the experience, because life isn't lived through outcomes. Life is lived through living, through what we're doing, through what we're doing right now, for what we've done in the past, for what we're going to do in the future.

And the best life, at least in my opinion, is when our doing is informed and infused and motivated and inspired through what we actually want, what's actually important to us. That, especially as we grow older, this is a critical aspect of self-awareness. What do we want? What matters to us Really, truly deeply, on a fundamental level, what do we really want? Because the answer to that question matters. The answer to that question is what's guiding our behavior on a daily basis, on a moment-to-moment basis? This really matters. That's my opinion anyway.

The most accessible and important and vital doorway to greater awareness is found through self-awareness that the more we really, honestly and completely and courageously inquire after ourselves, really get to know ourselves on a deep, fundamental level, past the superficial, past the material, past the ego, past the base desires of self-centeredness and self-gain. Who are we really? Because the answer to that question really matters, because our sense of self is what guides our behavior. We can see who we think we really are, reflected in our choices, in what we do. We can see what we believe we really deserve. We can see what kind of opinion we hold of ourselves by observing the choices that we make, by what we do, because we will always act from the standpoint of whatever matters most to us in that moment.

If we've made choices that we regret or we've made choices that we don't believe really reflect who and what we really are, that's the value, right there. That's the value of knowing who and what we really are, because without that knowledge we couldn't make different choices. We'll constantly be in service of something else, of the superficial, of the material, of the gratification of the mindless pursuit and satisfaction of superficial appetites that don't really nourish us on a deep level. That's kind of funny. It's kind of a funny paradox in our American culture where in one hand, our culture is highly individually focused, we really celebrate the individual, we really separate the individual, we really focus on the individual.

That often we're castigated or chastised for getting to know ourselves, for too much self-awareness, that we're, on one hand, encouraged to be this bright, shiny, achieving individual but on the other hand, we're expected to be selfless, we're expected to be constantly deferring to other people, we're expected to be in service of everyone and everything around us constantly. Now, especially as children, we're encouraged to define ourselves based on others, to install this constant comparison engine within ourselves. That we know who we are in comparison to other people. We know who we are based on what other people think of us, on what other people say, on how much we're valued by other people, on what our reputation is, on what our social standing is, on how impressive we are.

But I think, especially as we reach mid-age or reach any sort of life boundary where our life changes, this idea of self-awareness becomes really important, because I think what all of us end up finding is that a life based on purely external definition and gratification really isn't that gratifying, really isn't that nourishing. There's not a lot of there there. There's not a lot of substance there, because it is superficial and we get tired of living on the outside only. We get tired of being an outside only. We feel like we have to be more. We have to be more than our personality. We have to be more than how others think of us. We have to be more than how impressive we are. We have to be more than our achievements. We have to be more than anything and everything on the outside.

That has to be only a partial story, because maintaining that story, especially over time, typically becomes impossible or at the very least, highly untenable, because we're going through life trying to maintain an external story only. We'll find ourselves frustrated because we can't. These are other people's opinions. These are other people's ideas of us. Sometimes these are made up ideas of our own, of how we think we're being perceived, that we actually have no idea. So not only is it impossible to constantly influence and control anyone else's opinion of us, but a lot of times it's impossible to know if our assumptions of our ideas of how we're being perceived are even correct, because we don't have access to other people's thoughts. We don't actually know completely 100% what anyone else thinks about anything. We can get an idea by what they tell us, by their facial expressions, by the interactions, by the evidence that we get, where we can never really know for sure. The only thing we can ever really know for sure is ourselves.

If we want to live a life that matters, simply put, we have to live a life that matters to us. No amount of anyone else's kudos or congratulations or celebrations will ever really matter as much as our own knowing that our life actually matters to us, that we're doing what's actually important to us, that we're expressing what's really true deep on the inside, that we're living and expressing our own soul drive and what we feel, driven and motivated and energized and inspired from deep within us to live, to express, to be. And our life gets better at least in my opinion, in my experience when we make this our focus, when we focus on being and expressing who and what we really are, in doing what really matters to us and oftentimes these ideas are pretty simple Doesn't mean it's easy, because when we start focusing on what really matters to us, often it means we have to eschew and ignore or even go against what matters to others and this can create conflict. But experiencing that conflict is worth it if it means we're being true to ourselves, that integrity living a high integrity life, living a life that is true to us, matters as a high worth is worth it. And oftentimes we can find that we're not really getting what we want in our life because we're not actually focused on what we want.

That life can be so hectic and so complicated and we can do so many things, we can kind of lose the thread. We can kind of lose the plot of our own story and be putting effort and time and energy and our resources into things we don't actually want to do and don't really value that much anyway. And then we wonder why doesn't my life really feel that good? Why is this life experience not really that great? Well, often it's because we're not actually putting effort towards what matters. We're doing what we think we should do rather than what we actually want to do, what we want to do on a deep, fundamental soul level. What our soul is driving us, is beckoning us, is calling us to do and be had. The more idealized version of ourselves is calling us forward, wanting us to be more, wanting us to be better, wanting us to be a more full and true representation and expression of who and what we really are. And so, if life is lost a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, it feels just kind of empty and shallow. And in support, to ask ourselves are we doing what we really want? Are we telling the truth? Are we living the truth of who and what we really are, of what really matters to us? Have we figured out what the most important things to us are really? And once we figured this out, have we made this our focus? Have we kept these things the main thing?

Because typically at least, it's been my experience that the most success I've ever achieved were when two things were present. One, I was connected with something that really mattered to me, that I really wanted to do, that I thought was really important. And two, I was focused. I wasn't trying to do 8 million different things, I wasn't trying to place as many bets as possible. I was focused on what was actually important and I let the behavior, the choices, flow out of that. I wasn't just trying to do as many things as possible, hoping they might give me what I want, hoping they might be meaningful, they could be what I'm looking for. Instead, I brought my focus back within and kept it on what I really wanted, what really mattered, what my priorities really were, what is really important to me. That I made my focus far more on my effort and keeping my effort in tune with my values than the outcomes that I was achieving. I focused my effort far more on the doing than on the getting, than on the achieving than on the rewards and the outcomes of my effort. That I recalled my focus from being fractured and spread to a thousand different things outside of me and I brought my focus back within. I kept it grounded on what really matters, what's really meaningful, what's actually important, and when I keep my focus on what's actually important, what's actually meaningful, I tend to get more meaning back.

That, again, it's so simple. It sounds kind of stupid, but we tend to get what we want. When we actually try to get what we want, we're not going to life with this indirect idea of we're going to do all sorts of these different things and then somehow, some way, we're not really sure we're gonna get what we want eventually. Well, why not just go for what we want? Create a direct connection with our own life that originates and runs through what actually matters, what's actually meaningful, make the sole drive of our life, our soul's drive, really get in touch with our own self-awareness of what really matters to us, what we really actually want deep on the inside, and make that our focus, share energy and our drive to that, because oftentimes when we do that, it makes our life far, much more clear because it gets a lot more general.

If our focus is on feeling good, if our focus is on service, if our focus is just on being a good person, being a helpful person, being a kind person, being a generous person, being a giving person, those ideas are infinitely actionable Versus if our focus is purely on outcomes if we want to make a certain amount of money, we want to be seen a certain way, we want to achieve a certain level of fame or notoriety or importance, we want to have a certain job title, we want to see a certain number when we step on the scale, whatever it is, those things are way more specific that when our focus is general, that can manifest, that can express in infinite ways, because when our focus is specific, we narrow our outcomes down to very few. And again, when our focus is purely on outcomes, that isn't going to be the content of our life. Outcomes come and go, sometimes they're very fleeting, but when our focus is more general, we can experience and live that and express that and do that every day. We can live our priorities, we can live our values, we can live our purpose, we can live our meaning every day, because these things aren't shackled to outcomes, these things aren't shackled to something that might happen someday in the future. These things are grounded in what we can actually do now or we can actually be now, the life we can actually live now, the contribution that we can actually make now, the kind of person we can actually be now.

And, in my opinion anyway, we live our best life when we're focused, when we're focused as much as we can on what really matters to us, stripping away the artificial stripping away all the things that don't really matter, all the things that we were told should matter, all the things that seem to matter to other people, and really getting in touch, really getting in tune with what matters to us and then centering our life around that, because that's all we can really ever do Every day. Our life is the opportunity to choose what matters, to express what matters, and we're the ones who choose, we're the ones who express, we're the ones with the freedom and the ability and the opportunity to do this, and our life gets better the more in tune and in sync these decisions are with who and what we really are, the deeper our self-awareness, the more intent and purpose our life gets imbued with, the more intentional our life gets, and the more intentional our life gets, the more what we get back from our life is in line with what we really want, with what really matters, because we're doing it on purpose. We're doing it with purpose, we're focused on what really matters and we tend to get back whatever we focus on. Focus on meaning, focus on purpose. Integrate this with your intentions. Express this in your life. Find your way to a full life, the life you really want, through the identification and expression of who you really are and what really matters.

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