Set Your Travel Goals (or, Happiness is a Choice)

When I prepare for a major travel excursion, I set a spiritual goal for the trip. That means I contemplate what I am ready or aiming to learn, about life or about my own potentials for self improvement. This is especially true with relocation; such an amazing opportunity to push the reset button involving any life conditions upon which you might wish to improve.

As I approach relocating Back East at the end of July, I find myself contemplating Happiness. At an Asian buffet the other night my fortune cookie stated:

“Happiness is a choice.”

That is precisely the message I needed to receive. As I contemplate the next Life Chapter of my own Dream Come True (for all of life is that, when you think about it), I realize it will be what I choose it to be with regard to the attitudes and viewpoints I exercise. Partly this means acting in ways that serve the greatest good and that may facilitate happiness and well-being for those in my immediate family and social circles. Smiling while engaging with people in public contexts can help me develop the habit of carrying happiness in my heart, coupled with acceptance and contentment.

Of course it is understood that any less than ideal conditions one experiences in one location are very likely to manifest again in a new location, so long as one carries those conditions forward within them. So contemplating current conditions is imperative for considering how to tweak the attitudes you choose to carry forward.

To me, this Travel Goal Setting for relocation goes way back in this lifetime (at least!). As my father was transferred several times to different states while I was young, I learned that in looking ahead to the next Big Move, I could use it as an opportunity to transform or tweak the life I had been living. When I was around 12, for instance, Dad told us the family would be moving around one year later from our home in Pennsylvania to New York state, near Niagara Falls.

Since at 12 I had become somewhat of an awkward, nerdy girl, I looked ahead to transforming my outer persona image in New York. I consciously changed up my wardrobe that next year, aiming to become a more “popular,” mainstream sort of teenager. When I got to my new school in New York then, I purposely sought to “get in” with what I conceived of as a more popular circle of friends. Well, it worked; however, very quickly that year I came to realize that the popular crowd I was courting really wasn’t who I am in the sense that my interests were far different from theirs. So after pretending for a short while to have a long distance boyfriend (wearing a ring from my mother’s jewelry case), pretty soon I figured out I wanted to be more authentic. I stopped sitting with this group of new friends at lunch time, even hiding in a lavatory the entire lunch period to do that. Then I joined a drama club and orchestra and started hanging out with new friends, more nerdy or artistic; people I really enjoyed being with!

The process I had undertaken to transform my life in the future from Pennsylvania to New York had succeeded, more than I could have anticipated.  I have been more mindful from that point forward of who I am (or am becoming) internally, and more appreciative of authenticity itself. I enjoyed my high school years immensely. The choices I made then were formative of the person I am today in very positive ways; no wonder then that at 64 as I have just retired, my immediate plan is to return to New York, to my family and even to be nearer to some of the deep friendships I shared there.

So, this time, I choose Happiness! 

images are from pixabay.com

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story.

Hitch Your Sail to an Epic Tale!

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What is the value of the fact that we live out our lives as Myth, as an Epic or Episodic Story?  Stories have structures: a beginning, middle and end. That is, they lead somewhere, and in the process of striving to achieve our storied destination, we always learn something valuable in the process. (If we don’t, then we may be in a ‘tragic’ mode, repeating the same sort of experience until we do finally ‘see the Light’, learn the lesson. Then we can move on to the next story, the next Life Chapter.)

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On Sunday I introduced the idea of “parallel myths”: looking at the synoptic structure of your own Life Story to Now and comparing that with a popular storyline you can identify with. This in itself can help you to ‘heighten’ your own Story; to see its meaningful significance for yourself and others involved. It can also help you recognize your Goals in relation to the parallel-story Quest of the heroic tale.

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So here’s a method for using a parallel myth or story to help you resolve a situation in your life.

First identify a Goal in your life, and an Obstacle or set of obstacles you are confronted with in trying to fulfill that goal.

Second, identify a parallel story in relation to your Goal and Obstacles. Is there a story you are familiar with where the hero aims to achieve a similar goal and encounters similar obstacles?

Name that Story: ________________________.

Third, review the way the hero or other protagonists in the parallel story overcome their obstacles to achieve their goal.

And Fourth then, reflect on (contemplate/ talk about/ journal or write or compose a poem or create a piece of art about): How might you APPLY the strategies used in the parallel story to the situation you face? What can you do to help you achieve your goal by comparison with this parallel story?

Sometimes this method will allow you to uncover a vital, practical solution you had not considered. At very least it can show you that you are not alone in facing your obstacles and that there are ways to achieve your goal.

As an example from my own life, currently I am engaged in something difficult but worthwhile; the most difficult ordeal and the most valuable, exciting opportunity of my life requires a daily effort to try to break through what in the past I would have accepted as self-limitations. Where I am at reminds me of the protagonist Chuck Noland in the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks (one of my favorites).

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In order to continue forward with his life after being marooned on a Desert island, at a certain point Chuck arduously but successfully builds a raft and he aims to take it into the deep Ocean, so he will be rescued. The current, though, beats him back on his early attempts. He has to finally muster enough strength and ingenuity to mount a Sail (delivered serendipitously upon his stranded beach), one with enough heft that it will allow the raft to catch a wind to propel him past the beating tidal current that has kept him penned on the beach. This takes everything Chuck has: courage, determination, skill, patience, calculation, fortitude, and ultimately, action. He faces the odds, he encounters the vicissitudes of Nature, and ultimately he prevails. He exceeds those illusory self-limitations. Life beyond that goal is not entirely what he anticipates; his fiancée has married and he has no reason to stay with his former job. He is still a “cast-away”, but he has learned much that he will share as he continues forth into a valuable, if still uncertain future.

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Just telling the Cast Away story in relation to my current travails is helpful. It buttresses my resolve and supports me in the alone-ness I often feel during this passage.  Stories remind us that our own story matters; it must, of course, if only to ourselves. Any good story, one “worth telling,” leads to a grander space than its ‘middle’ ordeals might foretell.  Any good motivation to achieve a destination bears fruit with its achievement beyond the hero’s own need or honor. It benefits the Whole that it is part of; hence it is worthy of the support of the Whole.

Seek comfort in the Whole (whatever you may choose to name IT); accept and receive Its love and support guiding you along on YOUR Journey!

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I always welcome YOUR insights and stories!

PLANTING SEEDS

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Sunday’s post introduced the Life Path Mapping weekly activity of “Seeking a Vision”.  The journaling or contemplation post, WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE…, invites you simply to plant a seed about the values you desire or aim to realize in your life from the perspective of how you wish to unfold your Personhood. Of course, this is only metaphorically a form of Vision Quest…which as an authentic practice would involve a ritual ceremonial context and an arduous physical as well as psychological and spiritual ordeal. But it is vital to look inwardly to envision that which you are aiming to unfold in your Life Path in order to Plant a Seed that sets the goal that you wish to nurture and manifest.

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Ellen Langer, a PhD Harvard psychologist and author of a book titled Mindfulness, was interviewed this week on National Public Radio. She is interested in how the way we TALK about possibilities influences our attitudes and behavior. She distinguishes between whether we ask “CAN I?” when we approach a goal, versus “HOW CAN I?”  to accomplish that same goal. Planting a Vision Seed sets up something we CAN unfold to; then our mind and spirit are free to discern and to facilitate the Means.  Although we might have the faith of a mustard-seed that all that is in our highest nature and interest WILL manifest, when we consciously shine the Light of Attention upon a worthy goal, this allows us to mindfully and flexibly steer our process in the direction of nurturing that seed and realizing the Growth we are aiming to unfold.

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I also invite you to reflect on how you would have answered the prompt: When I Grow Up I Want to Be… both when you were young and then Now, and then to reflect on how and why those answers might differ as well as how they are similar. When I ask this in Life Path coaching, people often tell me they are necessarily more “realistic” and more “practical” today than they were as a child, or that their increased responsibilities preclude earlier idealistic ambitions. What I find though is that what they wanted to be as a child has archetypal aspects to it which might still be part of their adult desires, if less obviously idealistic. For example, “I want to be a Superhero” might be a child’s reply. That could be expressing the desire to develop the potentialities of a Warrior or Healer or Communicator archetype (I will introduce a special set of 12 primordial archetype images later in this process).  So, if you now still do wish to be a soldier or Guardian of some sort, or a doctor/healer or a writer/communicator, you may yet be intending to realize these same important aspects of your unconscious interests and potentials. I will say these archetypal impulses define aspects of who you ALREADY ARE, so it makes sense and is very realistic that you can develop and more fully materialize these essential components of your intrinsic Self.

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So, WHAT/ WHO DO YOU WISH TO BECOME; WHY; and later you will be invited to focus on HOW CAN you germinate and fully manifest your natural potentialities? Do feel welcome to share if you like!