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What are your core values?

The second question we will explore in our quest for self awareness and growth is this: What are my core values?

Values are a part of us. They highlight what we stand for. Values guide our behavior, providing us with a personal code of conduct.

When we honor our personal core values consistently, and live in alignment with them, we experience fulfillment in our lives.

Similarly, if we are not living in integrity with our core values or when we dishonor them, we experience guilt, remorse and anger. (In fact, when we are angry at someone else, it is often because one or more of our core values has been injured – think about this one)

Other ways to ask this question and get in touch with our core values are: What is the most important thing about me as a person? What do I stand for? What are the qualities that I would like to be known for?

It is important to remember that we cannot select values that we would like or believe that we 'should' have. It is a process of discovery and...

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What’s your iki gai?

The first question for personal reflection that we will explore in this series is: What is your iki gai?

Ikigai (pronounced [ikiɡai]) is a Japanese concept which means "a reason for being." Everyone, according to Japanese culture, has an ikigai. The Japanese believe that finding one's ikigai requires a deep and often lengthy search of self.

There is a reason why we need to pay attention to the concept of ikigai. The people of Okinawa in Japan are the longest living people on the earth today. They live an average of 7 healthy years longer than Americans and have the most people over 100, partly because they believe that everyone has an ikigai which gives meaning and purpose to their lives.

So strong is this belief that they do not have the concept (or even a word for) retirement in their language. Work that adds meaning and purpose to life is not something that the Japanese stop doing when they reach a certain age.

But an ikigai does not have to be purely work related.

For example,...

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Using questions for self reflection

One of the most effective paths towards self growth and spiritual maturity is a consistent practice of self reflection.

Self reflection involves asking meaningful questions of ourselves and allowing the answers to emerge in their own time. It is not about easy answers or quick solutions.

In fact, when you are asking important questions, resist the temptation to accept the first answer that presents itself.

It is often more effective to let the questions "simmer" for a while. Asking the question is far more important than answering it quickly.

This can be quite challenging for some of us who NEED answers right NOW.
When we notice ourselves becoming impatient and wanting answers, it is helpful to ask the same question at least a few more times. "And what else" is a helpful prompt when you are working through a particular question.

You may find that it takes a little time for the conscious mind to settle and the answers that bubble up after a few times of asking the same question are...

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Ask good questions

Sometimes we think that in order to become wiser, we need to have the right answers. But right answers to wrong questions are not very useful, are they?

"The key to wisdom", as John Simone said, "is knowing all the right questions."

Questions are powerful tools. They can point to possibilities, encourage self reflection and growth, ignite hope and lead to new insights. They can also confuse issues, destroy hope and keep us stuck in bad assumptions.

Imagine that you are looking at a new project – either work related or personal goals related.

Consider the difference between these questions relating to the project or goal:

Question 1: Can I?
Question 2: How can I?

"At first glance, the questions Can I? and How can I? may appear to be very similar", writes John Maxwell in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential. "The reality is that they are worlds apart in terms of results. Can I? is a question filled with hesitation and doubt. It is a...

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The Daffodil Principle

Today I am sharing one of my favourite inspirational stories on the power of baby steps.


As it is springtime here in the western hemisphere, and the daffodils are just beginning to show their sunny heads, let us remind ourselves of "The Daffodil Principle" by Jaroldeen Asplund Edwards.

Here it is:

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead.

"I will come next Tuesday, " I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"

My daughter smiled calmly and said," We drive in this all...

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Living a regret free life

Over the last few days, we have been talking about the top regrets of the dying. Thinking and reflecting upon the shortness of our sojourn here on earth is an excellent way to live a better life so that we don't have the regrets at the end of our days.

The good news is that while we are still here, we have thousands of opportunities to change the stories of our lives and leave a legacy that we are content with.

Living a regret free life begins with recognizing what we would like our life to stand for. An excellent way to do this is through the "Eulogy Exercise".

A eulogy, as you know, is a speech given at a memorial service in memory of the deceased. Loved ones gather to say good words about the dearly departed and what impact they had on their lives.

The Eulogy exercise is a little different. It entails writing out two eulogies for yourself.

The first eulogy is to be written as if it is going to be read today. Write it in the present tense, as if the people gathered at your funeral...

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The most common regret of the dying

What do you think was the most common regret of those that Bronnie Ware cared for, and wrote about, in her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing?

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me".

"This was the most common regret of all", writes Ware. "When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it."

We may have given ourselves so many reasons and excuses about why we are not doing what we are called to do.

At the end of our days we may realize with regret that we have forgotten the reasons or we may see that the reasons were not very good at all.

What do you dream of doing? Why not start taking action...

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I wish that I had let myself be happier

Many of us do not realize that happiness is, in fact, a choice. A choice that we can make on a daily basis by focusing on what we have rather than what is lacking. On nurturing what is present and available rather than yearning after what may never be ours.

Bonnie Ware found that this awareness came late in life for the people that she cared for. She says, "This (regret) is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again."

This is such a good reminder to all of us – to ask ourselves what we can do today to take charge of our own happiness and wellbeing.

We can get choose today to get out of emotional ruts that...

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I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

This week we are continuing with our series which is inspired by the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. This book by Bronnie Ware, the palliative care nurse who took care of patients in their last three to twelve weeks of life, is about the stories and confessions from people at the end of their life and talks about the regrets people had for how they wished they had made different choices in life.

One of the top regrets of the dying, Ware found, was not making the time for important friendships. Many found that in the busyness of life, they tended to let go of relationships until they fell out of touch with once-good-friends.

She writes, "Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving...

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I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings

Much too often, we do not speak our truth, express how we really feel or ask for what we need for many (not very good) reasons. These reasons can include self-protection, fear of upsetting the other, keeping the peace etc.

Much too often we forget that relationships can better survive our truth than the resentment borne from not speaking up. It is in fact, emotional disengagement that destroys relationships rather than the feared conflict from a spoken truth.

Ware found that not expressing feelings had an additional cost. She found that not expressing their true feelings was something many people regretted at the end of their life. "Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others", she writes. "As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result."

Once we start practicing expressing our true feelings, we begin...

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