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  • Writer's pictureShannon Johnson

What Lights You Up?

As we launch into a new year and a new decade, many of us start to reflect on our lives. Are we doing what we want in our career? Are we the parent we want to be? Are we the partner we want to be? Are we traveling as much as we would like? Are we meeting financial goals? Are we meeting health goals?

As I sit in sessions this week, I hear from many that they wish life were different. They wish career, family, finances, or other areas of life were going better. And the frustration of living a life that isn't what they had hoped for often leads to depressed mood, anxiety, or both.

I completely relate! I am pretty sure I came out of the womb with ideas on how my life should be. I don't remember embracing childhood much, because I was always ready to grow up. I just couldn't wait to be an adult. I had expectations about how college, career, marriage, and parenthood would go, and all would go according to plan as long as I did my part -- as long as I didn't fail.

Does anyone out there relate? I am the kind of lady who finds out she has an event, envisions the perfect dress in her head, and then spends hours trying to find that perfect dress. I always find it rude that Dillards does not carry what I dream up! This, my friends, is an example of unrelenting standards -- trying to find an ideal that never seems to materialize.

Over the last six years, I have really started learning how to find meaning in my day to day life, instead of measuring my progress and production against an invisible, idealistic ruler. I struggled to find meaning and joy until life helped me out by bursting many of those carefully crafted plans of mine. There is nothing like parenthood, money struggles, loss, humbling experiences, and health issues to help you desire to try a different approach.

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was a sense of freedom and independence. I remember countless talks with my dad where he encouraged me to find what I like to do, and to do it, regardless of the opinions of others. He would give examples of people he watched live a life they thought they had to live based on family or societal pressures, and they appeared to be miserable.

My parents taught us that our intuition is vital to heed, and outsiders might not understand, but if you follow your "gut instincts," things tend to work out. I am not going to claim that I lived by this wisdom in my 20's or most of my 30's, but I am starting to come around.

How does all of this relate to relationships? Well, if you or your person is not finding meaning in their day to day, this is most likely impacting the health and happiness of your relationship. It is up to us, as individuals, to make sure that we uncover our own needs, wishes, and desires, in order to not project resentment and frustration at our family members. If a person spends 8-10 hours per day at a job that is soul-sucking, they will bring this energy home to their family.

If you are one of the many humans who are struggling to find meaning, I want you to try something. Sit down with a journal, piece of paper, or your laptop and start to make a list of what lights you up in life. I just love that expression! What brings a little happiness to you? This is unique for everyone.

My list includes items like the colors yellow, green, and red, the ocean, sun, chocolate, hot baths, tea, cozy blankets, a great book, travel to anywhere I haven't been, coffee in the morning with Brad, time with my family, skiing on bluebird days, learning, watching my kids figure out who they are, time with my friends, yoga, solitude, the mountains in Colorado, candles, music, citrus, mint, supporting clients in healing...just to name a few.

Then, take a moment to see how much of your list you are living. Can you start to weave more meaning into your days? Can you start to think about a career that you feel excited about instead of feeling like the "shoulds" are dictating your life? Can you place a few things that light you up into your environment? Can you choose to incorporate more play and adventure into 2020?

And when you start to resist the idea of living a life that lights you up, start to explore what is blocking you. You just might be in your own way! I have definitely been from time to time.

There is a quote by Howard Thurman that I ran across a couple weeks ago that resonates:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

It took a while for Brad and I to find our groove as individuals. However, now that I spend my days supporting individuals and couples, and he is out saving dirt (he's a conservation farming consultant), our relationship is reaping the benefits. That man can nerd out on dirt more than anyone else I know.

My hope is that you will make 2020 a year that Lights You Up!

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