In my experience, happiness comes from alignment and presence. Basically, if your actions reflect what lights up your soul AND you are open to the sensations you’re experiencing in the moment, then you feel good — you feel happy. But many of us are trying to pursue happiness in the mind. We’ve disconnected from the moment-by-moment sensations of the body, because they may feel painful or scary or vulnerable. It’s easier to live in the head and feel like you can control how much life affects you. Unfortunately the mind isn’t set up to feel like the body is, which I believe has led us to pursue extremes just to feel at all. We’ve substituted boosting our own image for happiness, adrenaline rushes for joy, and emotional dramas for the feeling of love. Luckily there’s a simple — though not easy — fix. Tune into your body and spend time getting comfortable with how it actually feels to be you. Don’t worry if you feel the urge to distract yourself or avoid potentially hard feelings like pain, shame, or guilt — that’s normal. Stay with it and keep tuning into your sensations. The more you can sit with the tough feelings, the more you open to feeling love, joy, and bliss too.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexis Pierce. Alexis is a leading expert on enlightened living and helps people live their truth with passion and joy. She’s created a unique system to discover & live your soul’s purpose, based on her previous work as an award-winning strategist in the U.S. government. Now uses all her strengths — from strategic visioning to 10 years teaching yoga and meditation — to connect you with the knowledge, wisdom, and tools you need to live with clarity, ease, and joy.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always known peace was my main focus. As a kid, I remember puffy-painting canvas bags with anti-war slogans; I just couldn’t understand violence. So in my first career in the U.S. Government, I worked on international peace and helped create a new framework to respond to complex international crises. When a country seemed like it was on a verge of a crisis, we would advise leadership — U.S. Ambassadors, foreign dignitaries, the White House, and members of Congress — on how to make goals like stable peace a reality. It was my dream job.
But one afternoon — probably around 2009 — I remember looking at my face in the mirror after work and realizing I wasn’t happy. It hit me that I wasn’t at peace. Here I had this dream career advising others on how to create peace when I wasn’t at peace myself. My relationships were filled with drama, my body was tight and aching, and my neighborhood was surrounded by violence — not to mention, I wasn’t even sure I liked myself!
At that moment, a quote I attributed to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama popped into my mind. Something like “To bring peace on earth, make your own life peaceful”. I decided it was no longer in integrity for me to teach on something I didn’t have myself, so I changed directions. Over the next year or so, I quit my career, sold my house, and moved to a small town in New Zealand to get straight with myself. It was there that I started helping small business owners with strategic visioning and stumbled into doing soul-level purpose work.
As it’s progressed, the work has gotten deeper and I’ve been able to adapt the strategic visioning framework we created in the Government into a reliable system to help people discover and live their soul’s purpose. Combined with the ten years I’ve now spent practicing and teaching yoga and meditation — it’s a powerful combination to get straight to the core of who you are and live your truth with clarity and ease.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
For me, it’s being aware of how every experience in your life is a gift. Many people think that your purpose is something you do, like a job title or career. But your purpose is who you are. You can’t be separated from it or miss out on living it; your purpose is you. But that doesn’t mean you always feel on purpose.
That’s because your purpose has a ‘light’ side and a ‘shadow’ side — the super, feel-good part that you crave and the core wounding aspect that brings you to your knees. When you feel “on purpose”, it’s because you’re on the light side — expressing the truth of your soul as you know it. But your pain is “on purpose” too. It just doesn’t feel like it because we tend to interpret our deepest pain as a weakness or a flaw — like a dirty secret we have to hide from the world.
When you realize that your best and worst feelings are two sides of the same coin, you free yourself to use every experience to express your purpose in the world. For example, if your purpose is to help people remember their wholeness, then you’ll probably also feel insecure or even broken much of the time. These feelings don’t invalidate your purpose — they are your invitations to discover your own wholeness, and thus live your purpose more fully. Once you see the painful experiences in life as the doorway to living your purpose, then you begin working with life to live your purpose in every moment.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you in finding your life’s purpose?
Every day! The beautiful thing about pain is that it forces you to look at how you’re not being honest with yourself. I believe pain can be your biggest gift because it motivates you to come back to yourself over and over. I work with pain every day to deepen into my purpose, but let me share a bigger example.
A few years ago, I realized I wanted to make a shift in my business and start offering donation-based sessions. Now that might not seem like a big deal, but as a business owner, leaving your paycheck up for interpretation can lead to some sleepless nights. So even though I knew what my heart wanted, I didn’t take action.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the soul works. It doesn’t give up just because you don’t get the hint the first time! So slowly but surely, I started getting other signs that something was off.
It was subtle at first — a day or two of confusion and feeling foggy about new program ideas. Then I started feeling exhausted anytime someone asked me about my services. Eventually, I felt worried and stressed all the time. I felt insecure even during times I typically excelled and started to wonder if I should reconsider my business altogether.
During meditation, I finally realized what was happening; I’d fallen for the soul’s oldest trick in the book. All my stress — the insecurity, doubt, tiredness, tension, fear — was a symptom of not choosing my truth. Within a day, I’d switched to donation-based services and my clarity, energy, and confidence came flooding back tenfold.
Your pain is always inviting you to embrace your truth more fully. The key is to remember that your purpose most often shows up as your deepest fears. It’s like a giant sign trying to point you in the right direction if you have the courage to tune in and listen.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
In my experience, happiness comes from alignment and presence. Basically, if your actions reflect what lights up your soul AND you are open to the sensations you’re experiencing in the moment, then you feel good — you feel happy. But many of us are trying to pursue happiness in the mind. We’ve disconnected from the moment-by-moment sensations of the body, because they may feel painful or scary or vulnerable. It’s easier to live in the head and feel like you can control how much life affects you.
Unfortunately the mind isn’t set up to feel like the body is, which I believe has led us to pursue extremes just to feel at all. We’ve substituted boosting our own image for happiness, adrenaline rushes for joy, and emotional dramas for the feeling of love. Luckily there’s a simple — though not easy — fix.
Tune into your body and spend time getting comfortable with how it actually feels to be you. Don’t worry if you feel the urge to distract yourself or avoid potentially hard feelings like pain, shame, or guilt — that’s normal. Stay with it and keep tuning into your sensations. The more you can sit with the tough feelings, the more you open to feeling love, joy, and bliss too.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m really lucky that I get to work directly with people on their joy and purpose every day. My goal is to create a peaceful world, one person at a time by helping people discover peace within. One of my commitments to bringing more good into the world is offering donation-based sessions. I believe it’s important to offer people a space to be witnessed and supported just because they are, not because they have a certain financial status or ability. Even some of the world’s wealthiest individuals crave to be seen as human and not just opportunities.
I was fortunate during graduate school to receive a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to work with Somali refugees in Uganda. What I learned was that, even in the most hopeless situations, people just want to tell their story and be seen as someone who lived and mattered. That is a gift we can all give one another, and offering donation-based sessions is one way I’m committed to honoring the human within all of us.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
These six strategies go deeper than your standard advice on amping up your energy with affirmations or visualization each morning. Instead, they connect you to the truth of who you are, so you can tap into the energy of your soul and greet your day with inspired focus and passion. Then when you add intangible tips like an energizing routine, you become an unstoppable force of purpose and joy in the world. Now you’re more than just living — you’re alive.
1. Know that you are your purpose. It’s easy to get caught up worrying that your life is just punching the clock and going through the motions. When you don’t have a relationship with your purpose, you can feel jaded and cynical about life and work, which drains your excitement and energy for the day. Remind yourself that YOU are your purpose. That means you can’t lose it, get it wrong, mess it up, or miss your moment. You are fulfilling your purpose in every moment — even if you don’t know what it is yet. When I first started learning to be happier, I realized I was drawing a big line between my real life and work. My “real” life was what I did on nights and weekends, while business hours were something that pulled me away from being me and living my truth. Ironic since I was also building my identity around my career and being a strategist! Once I realized that everything I do is an expression of my purpose, it helped me show up more fully for life and pour my energy into every experience — work and play. I stopped resenting work as taking me away from my truth and started exploring it as an outlet for my purpose.
2. Set the tone. Morning time is your time. Create a routine that uplifts and enhances who you want to be and then do it — even on days you feel like you can’t, shouldn’t, or don’t want to. Your routine is powerful because you are claiming what’s important to you and prioritize it. You are telling yourself that you matter. So don’t stress about choosing the ‘right’ practice; just make time to do something daily.One of my clients is a busy dad of 4 boys and the owner of a growing business. He came to me because he wanted to learn to meditate to calm his mind, improve his health, and stop snapping at his employees, but his schedule was already jam-packed. He barely slept because of late-night parent duty, so the idea of adding more to his plate felt daunting. We started with a few short breathing practices and he noticed immediate results but was still struggling to make time to practice in the morning. When he did, he realized he didn’t feel as rushed, was more present for his family, and took setbacks at work in stride. To me, it’s less important that he practices perfectly. What matters is that he gives himself permission to prioritize his well-being and create his day and his life in the way that feels best for him. That freedom is like a triple shot of energy for your soul!
3. Get moving. It’s hard to have the energy for life if you have no energy flowing! Moving your body is a great way to reinvigorate your creativity, amp up your feel-good hormones, feel more confident, work through problems, and reconnect with yourself. Plus it doesn’t hurt that it tones down the mean, grumpy voice in your head too!When I started my business, I would often find myself paralyzed by self-doubt and indecision. Once I started working out in the mornings, I noticed I was able to make decisions more easily and move forward with more confidence. Now I try to walk twice a day, once to jumpstart the day and once to refresh in the late afternoon when my energy lags and my brain feels foggy. These walks are my time to work through any problems, fears, or worries. When you move, everything starts moving, so this is a must to feel energized and alive each day.
4. Get to the point. From your soul’s perspective, your job is just a vehicle for your purpose. For example, you may work in real-estate, but your real focus is building communities. Or perhaps you’re a dentist, but your true focus is helping people learn to trust themselves. You have a bigger message and mission than your day-to-day job. When you focus on your soul’s purpose, you tap into a deep well of energy that will infuse everything you do. One of my clients was desperate to leave her job as a finance manager. She dreamed of living in the woods, being a masseuse, teaching movement to the elderly, helping kids learn yoga, advocating for patients in surgery, growing organic vegetables, and the list went on. Her interests and desires were so varied, she felt suffocated by her 9-to-5 job and hated going to it every day. She felt like her purpose was passing her by and she was missing out.But imagine a necklace with multiple beads on it. Your purpose is like the thread, and your activities are like beads. That means your purpose flows through the heart of everything you do. You don’t have to cling to anyone specific bead or feel limited by it. Everything you do is an opportunity to express your bigger message. Once my client connected to her bigger message of helping people honor and invest in what they value, she was free to do soul’s work in all of her roles and find more meaning in her work. That turned the dread for her job into potential and possibility.
5. Get clear the night before. Thinking and acting are two different energies. To feel more excited for your day, get into the momentum of action as soon as you can. One trick is to do your thinking the night before by making a list of the actions you’ll take the next day. That way you can jump right in with the feel-good energy of movement and action. Whether it’s a written to-do list, quick email to yourself about your top priorities, or a detailed note to your team mapping out all your desired actions, this will help you dive right in without pausing to analyze and assess.
As a visionary, my strength is big-picture, strategic thinking. When I started my business, I noticed I was wasting hours each morning wondering what I should be doing that day to achieve my big goals. With the help of a coach, I realized I was putting on my visionary hat each morning to try to come up with daily tasks when those are two different levels of thinking. Now I gift my future self a leg up and write my next day’s task list the night before so I can jump right in each morning.
6. Be honest. The biggest drain on your energy is avoiding your own truth. Most of us will do anything not to feel how scared, confused, or insecure we are — including distracting ourselves with addictions and daily dramas around food, health, love, friends, work, and so on. To tap into more excitement and energy in your life, get real about who you are and what matters to you, beyond the daily dramas. You can journal on your frustrations, fears, worries to get them out of your system so they stop taking up space and sapping your energy. Or read your values and desires each morning to reconnect with the truth of who you are. The important part is to challenge yourself to be more and more honest with yourself about how you’re feeling, what you want, and what really matters to you.A recent client was frustrated with her job, money troubles, and an impending move to be with her fiancé in a city she didn’t want to live. She was making herself sick with anxiety and stress, had gained 30 pounds, and didn’t know what to do next to feel better. All she knew was that she wanted to feel more like the vibrant, creative woman she remembered being. In thirty minutes, I guided her to claim her truth more fully. She knew exactly where she wanted to live, what she wanted to do, and how to make it all work financially — she just hadn’t admitted it to herself. Once she did, a rush of excitement and energy flowed back into her life and she’s felt clear and energized ever since. Your truth gives you power.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
I get excited by just about everything I read or hear. Since I make a video almost every day, I thrive on being inspired by what others are exploring and explaining about the world and our experience of it. My personal journey to happiness started with Jack Canfield’s tome The Success Principles. His chapter on commitment convinced me to quit smoking once and for all and has continued to inspire me to fully commit to myself today.
One of my favorite podcasts right now is The Alchemy with Trish Law. I know Trish personally and am inspired by how deep, raw, and real she is on her show. As a thought leader, it’s easy to get tripped up in building a brand and slip into performing or becoming a persona in order to gain validation, approval, or success. Trish’s show helps remind me to strip it back and tune into what really matters to me. I admire how honest and vulnerable she is, which inspires me to be more me too.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
For over ten years, the signature block on my personal email has been “You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours” by Anne Wilson Schaef.
When I first read it, it sparked a part of me that felt like I was sliding through life — moving from one expected accomplishment to another without stopping to think if I valued or wanted any of them. Degrees, jobs, a house, relationships; all the things we think we’re supposed to have to be successful in life. Her quote inspired me to question all of it and ask myself about my dreams, which led me to change careers and my spiritual journey.
Now when I read it, it points to a deeper sense of power in my choices — that every experience in life is a gift I can use to strengthen my sense of self and purpose. She also highlights what I now see as the point of all of it: “to make yourself yours”. If life is offering one opportunity, it’s to fully become you.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
A few! My main focus is supporting who I call “the brave souls on the path to inner freedom” in my ongoing group, BecomingYOUniversity. We’re continually evolving our understanding of who we are, how good it’s possible to feel, and what it means to live on purpose, so it always feels fresh and exciting. I’m also working on writing a book about my 5-step strategic system to discover and live your soul’s purpose. The book will be able to reach people right in their homes and help them gain clarity about who they are and what brings them deep, soul-level joy. Then they can take steps to nourish themselves every day and create meaningful, fulfilling lives.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
SoulJoy! As a soul strategist, the biggest challenge I see is people exhausting themselves with daily actions that don’t reflect their soul’s desires or vision. That can leave you feeling powerless, frustrated, and hopeless. But when you know what makes your soul feel truly fulfilled and happy and have the courage to take those steps daily, you create a deep sense of inner well-being. You know how to nurture yourself without looking outside of yourself for self-esteem or approval. This is how we’ll create peace in the world — by learning how to feed your own soul joy daily.