The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Exploring foreign lands is what springs to my mind when thinking about ‘discovery’. In an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom type of way. And let’s be clear, I’m pretty keen on that. But in a lot of ways the type of discovery that Proust talks about in the above quote is a lot cooler… and a lot more accessible (’cause let’s face it, how many Temples of Doom or Lost Arks are left for me?)
Being the Mama of three small girls, I get to see discovery on a daily basis. I watch the delight on their faces when they master something they have never done before. And I get to drink in the sense of wonder when I see their little brains working hard to process something they see or hear for the first time. I think witnessing all this discovery on a daily basis has meant that I have been on a path to my own self-discovery over the past few years (yes, it’s a process!)
Lost and Found
In my early twenties I was so busy just being and doing. I felt as though I had all the time in the world to come up with a plan and to make something happen. I wasn’t too concerned with actively seeking out those things that made me tick, I was following a path, but I hadn’t really stopped to think if it was the path for me.
I think that in the era we live in, it is so easy to just operate on automatic pilot. We are so busy that sometimes it is just easier to coast along with life. I find that especially as a Mama, if you’re not careful, you can very easily lose yourself. You forget to do what you love and you stop seeking out new personal challenges because you are too busy caring for those around you… eventually you forget what it is that makes you tick.
It is easy to lose your way… but it is so imperative that we take the time to re-discover our own capacity for fulfillment and the best ways to accomplish this. We must encourage that internal dialogue where we question what it is we want and what it is that makes us happy and fulfilled. We will give the best of ourselves when we know what the best of us is, and we are actively pursuing our own happiness.
So, for me this process of rediscovering my dreams and passions has been a loooong and slow process. Over the last few years, while I’ve been knee-deep in nappy changes and baby talk, I have had the opportunity to really slow down and reflect on what matters to me and what makes me happy. This process of self-discovery has refreshed and re-energised me. I’ve rediscovered my creativity and am now making intentional steps towards goals that are truly important to me.
So, are you in a situation where you are feeling a little lost? Do you want to take some time to rediscover the things that really make you feel fulfilled? Using the workbook above, work through the steps outlined below to make your own Map to Me. And then, if you don’t mind, let me know what you discover. What drives you? What is it that you are itching to accomplish and what makes you truly happy?
Steps to discovering your happiness
“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” – David Viscott
Start at the Start: Reflect
You can’t make forward progress until you know where you’re coming from. Take as much time as you need (I would suggest at least a couple of days) to really ponder the following questions.
- How do you feel about your life at the moment? What are you doing in those moments you feel happiest? What parts of your life make you feel lost?
- When was a time in your life when you felt happy and fulfilled? What exactly were you doing? (Be as specific as possible, even capturing your feelings as well as the actions – often feelings are much easier to recreate than an action or event.)
- Who do you admire and what is it about them or their lives that you’d like to adopt into your own life?
You don’t have to make notes (unless, like me, you are an avid note-taker!) just make sure you have taken time to really consider the answers and your mind is in that introspective place that will allow you to make the best progress with the following steps.
Delve Deep: Enquire
“What is life for? It is for you.” – Abraham Maslow
Sometimes we are hesitant to ask questions of ourselves because if we discover what it is that will truly make us happy, we have no excuse but to pursue it.
- What comes easily to you? What do you do effortlessly that you really love? What would other people say are your gifts and talents? (I believe that those things that come easily to us, are effortless for a reason – it is a sign that it is part of what makes you uniquely you and you should embrace those characteristics/skills/talents.)
- What is your biggest dream? Can you go to the core of that dream and identify the specific values, feelings or actions that are at the root of the dream? (Can these things be applied to your everyday life in a more accessible way? For example, one of my dreams is to spend a couple of years travelling the world. Currently, my family and I are at a stage when that is not immediately achievable, so instead, I expose myself to the sense of adventure by bringing foreign cultures and destinations into our home. We read about other countries and talk about the wonders of the world. Occasionally we have a French evening and we cook souffles and listen to Edith Piaf. All these things bring me happiness – they’re not the big dream, but they make me smile all the same).
- The Big One: What would you experience or create if you had no fear or excuses? (Don’t hold back. What do you long for in your heart of hearts?)
“Because of our routines, we forget that life is an ongoing adventure.” – Maya Angelou
Here’s a practical task for you.
I know, I know, you’re a very busy lady… but please, sit down with your diary and carve out some significant periods of time when you can really put all this thinking into action and discover your own happiness.
Indulge and Experiment
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
So, now that you have some time in your schedule, use it. Try out some of those things that popped out to you as potential ‘Happiness Makers’. Don’t assume you have all the answers. Something that you loved to do five years ago may not hold the same appeal.
Equally, be open to new experiences. If someone suggests something new, say yes. Don’t hesitate. You never know when you might discover a new passion.
Keep experimenting until you have found those things that you love to do. You know the ones, those things that keep you up all night you are so excited by them. The things you can’t help but tell your loved ones about because you are so passionate about them – those are the things that will fulfill you.
Embrace your discoveries
“If success is not on your terms – if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your own heart – it is no success at all.” – Anna Quindlen
First, a side note — we are in a constant state of evolution. Make sure you are always in charge of your happiness by keeping in mind that your goals and dreams and passions can shift. Be aware and make changes to your priorities to reflect the evolution.
Finally, embrace what you have discovered. Embrace it whole-heartedly. Own it. Trust it. Now chase it.
I hope you have found this useful. If you completed the steps I outlined above, I’d love to hear what you came up with. If you have your own methods for self-discovery I’d love to hear those too!