We live in an age where people are obsessed with crafting their abs, their hair, their lips and butts and boobs – but how much attention are they paying to their inner appearance? Their inner health? Oh and I’m not just talking about your gut.
Mental health isn’t just about not being depressed. True mental health is so much more than that. It’s like tuning one of those old fashioned radios until you can hear your inner dialogue clearly. It’s being able to challenge thoughts that pop up into your head, pruning those that serve you versus the noise and distraction designed to tease and tempt you off your path.
I believe we all have a unique mission, something special we were put on the planet to do. I like to call this our inner wonder, our soul mission. It’s our job in this life to uncover it (easier said than done) and live and speak our truth while we do this. This is called “purpose” by some and when you’re “on track” delivering your wonder or your soul mission, you will feel focus and passion and a level of energy like no other because you will be in flow.
Flow isn’t just reserved for elite athletes and CEOs – it’s something we can all access provided we listen to our intuition (tune that radio) and our heart. We can condition ourselves as humans to perform well on all fronts, we can practice and play and act out a whole manner of amazing tricks that are both impressive and feel somewhat rewarding – but deep inner satisfaction and happiness only comes when we are living our soul mission, expressing our inner wonder and in flow. Until you’re doing this, it’s just a really lovely cocktail of hormones (hello serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine!). These hormones are wondrous and by goodness can they trick you into thinking you’re on track and even in flow – the problem is, like any cocktail, the effects are short lived and the hangover may not be very pretty (and may take a while to show up).
How do I know all this? As a dopamine dealing wonder junkie, I’ve mastered the art of creating a whole stack of wonder in my life. I built a Wonder life. I had vision and I went after everything I could possibly dream of and worked with hubby to build it all out. We worked hard, we played hard. We travelled, we entertained, we drank all the aperol and all the fancy wine. It was only last year between a rather stressful house move, starting my consulting business, hubby unexpectedly getting the sack from a senior executive position and two small children robbing all the sleep from my life that I got so low I realised I was not in flow, on track or living my soul mission. Wow.
That’s kinda hard to realise. It was like being hit by lightning. I was living in this beautiful home in an affluent suburb in Melbourne. I have two beautiful children and a partner who loved me. I’d launched my dream businesses and they were thriving. I was pouring my heart and soul into everything I do. I came home one day exhausted, started cooking plain pasta for my kids (who at the time would refuse anything colourful or nutritious) and started to feel the stress levels rise. It was slow at first, I was noticing how much housework I needed to do, then thinking about how many emails I needed to send, the invoices I needed to chase, the phone calls I needed to return, the WhatsApp conversations I needed to catch up on, the facebook messenger feed that was growing, the instagram comments I hadn’t replied to, the craft activities I wanted to do with my kids, the nappies I needed to buy, the laundry I needed to fold, the sheets I needed to wash, the paint I needed to get off the walls… and then it hits me like a tonne of brick in the face… I’m not happy. This is not my wonder state. I’m living in a world of lists and not good enough and more, more, more. I’m not in flow, I’m not at a place of inner peace and I am certainly not expressing my inner wonder. Whoa.
Our happiness is our own responsibility – I truly believe this…. We must chase our dreams (not the dreams of others for us); we must tune in, we must do inner work, get curious and understand ourselves, our strengths, our passions, our obsessions, our fears, our desires, our hopes, our secrets, from here we can really start to listen. We can start to listen to our inner dialogue, to our heart, to our soul. Your soul isn’t going to send you an email with your mission in it. It’s not going to send you an envelope “your mission should you choose to accept it is…” either. You’ll get whispers and feelings, your head, heart and gut are there to help you… like a “warmer, warmer, cooler, cooler” sort of feedback system – people say “you’ll know” and it’s true. You’ll know when you’re on track because of that feeling of flow. Because of that car park you got out the front, the ease of connection, how simple the answers suddenly appear. Even if it’s a mountainous problem you’re facing, it excites rather than frightens you. I’m not saying you won’t feel fear… Fear is a feeling, a good one at that! It can warn you to impending danger… or it can remind you to tune in… “feel the fear and do it anyway” the rewards come next.
The first step to reconnecting with my wonder was admitting I was unhappy and that I had lost connection. Admitting that I wasn’t on track and that some serious stuff had to change, I’m on the journey and each day I get amazing validation through feelings and thoughts that I’m getting back on track and getting into flow. It’s certainly a vulnerable and sometimes painful journey to be on but by god it’s worth it. Already I know this. I have moments of crystal clear clarity, glimpses of my mission, feelings that everything is going to work out. I’m awake. I’m alive. I’m feeling more on purpose and in flow than ever before, all from admitting I was unhappy and that I wasn’t connected to my inner wonder. It’s like sometimes we are too afraid to feel the feels. We get busy following recipes, trying to be like them or look like that or do that thing or achieve that milestone.
Don’t spend all your time worrying about how you look or how ‘things’ look that you forget to tune into how you FEEL. How you think. How you roll! Don’t spend so much time on the outside that you neglect the inside. Let your inner workout begin and suddenly you’ll discover your soul mission, your passion, your purpose, your flow.
How can you use play?
Play is one of the most amazing tools for helping us reconnect and find our inner wonder. When we get lost in play, our default network lights up and our brain is capable of making disparate connections (aka creativity and imagination), when we get lost in the moment building things out of lego, squishing play doh between our fingers, using paint to create a masterpiece, doodling on a napkin, cutting pictures out of magazines and making a vision board – magical things happen in your mind – and magical things start to stir in your soul too. We reconnect. We find that childlike place where awe is an everyday occurrence. Where wonder comes second nature, we activate our inner wonder and we remember who we are and on a subconscious level, we remember why we came here. This is a pretty compelling reason to bring more play into your world. Humans weren’t created to work 9-5 and increase revenue and profit for a corporation year on year. Humans are here to connect, to learn, to grow, to play, to create and to express our inner wonder.
Need some ideas for play?
Kinetic sand is SO much fun. Not only is it a sensory puzzle (what is this!) you can allow your mind to wander while your hands are happily involved with this wondrous tricky little substance!
LEGO is still one of my favourite toys for activating the play mindset, I use it in workshops all the time – building blocks for imagination, play – the ultimate metaphors for life can be built starting here.
Art Therapy and Mindfulness colouring is a neat way to indulge in a little mind wandering if you’re not keen on creative mess or playing on the ground with blocks.
Some questions to start you on your inner work out:
- What am I disappointed about in my life?
- What secret thoughts do I have that I avoid tuning into for fear of the pain they may cause?
- What is my wildest dream?
- If a genie gave me 3 wishes right now to change 3 things on the inside of me…. what would they be?
- When does time go really fast for me?
- What does my favourite day on earth look like? If I only have one day to live how does it start? what am I doing? who am I with? where am I? what am I eating? how am I feeling?
- What do people typically ask you for help in?
- If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
- What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
Ok you’re 99 years old and looking back on your life, which areas do you give yourself a 10/10 for playing full out and being 100% authentically you…(in no particular order)…
- Relationship to self
- Family relationships and Friendships
- Learning and personal growth
- Fun & Adventure
- Nurturing the planet
- Your purpose/soul mission
This is not an all inclusive list, what other areas would you like to focus on? What do you want to give yourself a 10/10 for when you’re 99? What is your long view for your life? A 99 year old who spent all their time worrying about how they looked may be sitting alone in a nursing home wishing they had read more books or worrying about all the relationships they weren’t fully present for. A 99 year old may be walking down the beach in excellent fitness wishing they had taken that risk in business or love instead of worrying so much about money. A 99 year old may be crippled, dreaming about all the places they wished they had been before their body failed them.
Have a long view. Think about your mental fitness, do deep and unrelenting inner work, get curious about your mindset, your soul mission, get inner fit and watch your life start to get into genuine flow as you let your inner wonder shine.