Who am I? And why am I here? These are questions, specialists say, that assist us in the process of creating our identities. These questions have entertained a great part of my youth and adult life.
My quest to answer them, which somehow always seems to have a sequel, has been intense, exciting and at times unpredicted. Funny enough, meaningful results have come not by way of books or theories, rather by way of experiences and people.
The stories and relationships of life have helped me understand that:
For what matters, we get to choose who we want to be.
And a universal purpose, if there is one, might just be to be together.
If you live in those parts of the planet where August means vacation, you might be enjoying a few days of rest. Out here in sunny southern Spain, my wife and I enjoy the company of unique friends who dedicate themselves to a “universal” purpose.
For them, home is a distinct place called Murtra Galilea, a resort like compound for retreat and tranquility. The purpose you breathe here is rather palpable: kindness.
Here, it quickly becomes obvious that people were made to be kind, to extend warmth, to intensely enjoy the experience of being nice. It’s a wonderful feeling and I wanted to share it.
Kindness, if ever there’s a universal purpose!
I normally thought of body language as that part of communication that our bodies convey to others and that other people’s bodies convey to me. But that evening Evgueni gave it a twist and got us thinking in a different way: Your body speaks to you. Are you listening?
I will usually listen to what other people’s bodies are saying. And I make an effort of being aware of what my body is telling them. But I really hadn’t given much thought to the idea that my body is also talking to me, that I can listen to it.
Don’t get me wrong, I do pay attention to my body: when hungry, I eat; when tired, I rest; when restless, I exercise… But I hadn’t thought about this relation as a conversation.
Have you spoken to your body?
What is it saying?
Conversations (real ones at least) involve memory, interaction (action + reaction + action + …), openness, reflection and unpredictability. Conversations allow for disagreement and conflicting views, and thus for persuasion, compromise and collaboration.
Wow! I hadn’t realized I could do all that with my body! Have you ever pictured your relationship with your body in these terms?
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy gave a fantastic talk on TED TALKS (click to watch). She postulates and proves that our bodies work for us. Our body postures change our brain chemistry as well as the way others perceive us.
Our bodies boost our self-confidence. They are powerful allies and agents of our happiness. It goes beyond food and exercise – It’s a creative conversation!
We tend to feel low when shadows get in the way of the path we believe leads to happiness. We want the sunshine, not the cloudy skies. And that’s all right.
Nonetheless, shadows sometimes get in the way of our projects, expectations and dreams. Therefore, it does us good to remember that if there are shadows it is because there is light. This means that the shadows in our life ARE light, just not where we expect it to be.
This is where our creativity can kick in. We might want to actively wait for the shadows to pass; we might want to step around the shadows and into the light somewhere new; we might consider the idea of appreciating the dark features of the shadows in order to boost our contentment of the light; we might seek new, inner light — it’s up to you!
Because shadows are the tangible evidence of light somewhere, they’re a fantastic incentive for a creative use of our potential everywhere.