Wisdom//

The 1 Thing I Learned About Living From Dying

"After my heart failed, and I flatlined for 90 minutes, my entire world turned upside down."

Science Photo Library/ Getty Images
Science Photo Library/ Getty Images

Everyone has a story, something that defines them to the core.

Mine starts in 2010, when I died.

After my heart failed, and I flatlined for 90 minutes, my entire world turned upside down.

I only realized how distant I was from myself, from my core values, through my tragedy. I learned that the biggest regret we’ll ever have is not being true to ourselves. But you shouldn’t have to die to learn who you are in this life.

Whatever your struggle, whether you’re stuck in a bad marriage or you work for a boss who makes you feel powerless, the most important thing is that you share your story so it can positively impact others.

By telling the world what happened to you, you not only transform feelings of helplessness into hope, but you can also begin to understand who you are at your core.

Most of us have no idea who we are. Whenever I meet strangers, instead of asking them what they do for work (as New Yorkers so often do), I ask, “What do you stand for?”

Nobody has ever been able to answer that.

The most important thing is to be true to yourself.

Once you know who you are and what you stand for, the game is over.

You see the world in a totally different way. Knowing your core values changes how you react to relationship woes, career obstacles, how you handle life’s daily challenges.

The number one lesson I learned from dying is:

To live a life of no regrets, you must know who you are.

Standing true in your authentic self is the most powerful, energetic vibration you can put out into the universe. And it will change everything: the way you walk through this world, the way you connect with people and think of yourself within the larger context.

I know it’s scary to be bold and speak from your heart. I was terrified to tell strangers what happened to me. But it’s absolutely normal to feel this way.

The thing to remember is there’s no way around fear — you just have to go through it.

You’ll never understand who you truly are, let alone be able to share it with the world, unless you push through whatever you fear the most. Don’t let trepidation hold you back from doing the things that will help you expand into your greatness.

Because you’re great.

Listening Is Just As Important As Talking.

In order to connect with people and empower them to create their best lives, you have to seek out, and listen to, their feedback.

One of my biggest challenges over the last several years was finding the right words to describe my near-death tragedy.

In the afterlife, I felt a peaceful, limitless beauty. And it was hard to recount these feelings in a way that made sense. I didn’t want people to miss my message, or discount my experience, just because they didn’t understand.

Communicating your life’s journey effectively is an art, and listening to your audience’s feedback is key. To make an impact, you have to experiment with how you communicate. Examine your message, be mindful of the language you choose to use, and recalibrate your words when necessary.

When I was bedridden and recovering from my heart transplant, I started sharing my story on Periscope. Some people admitted they felt jealous and excluded: they wished they could feel the beauty and interconnectedness I had experienced in Heaven. To me, this was devastating to hear.

My intention is to bring hope, comfort and joy for living. The last thing I want to do is make people feel bad.

Thanks to this early feedback, I realized the necessity of listening to people before I could effectively share my message. Ibegan assessing where they were in their lives, what they wanted to know, and how they wanted to hear it. And I figured out a way to relate to people so they could see themselves in my tragedy and be inspired on their own journey.

Impacting the Lives of One Billion People Starts With Showing Up.

It’s not easy for me to tell my story, and reaching one billion people may not sound like a realistic goal.

But I focus on showing up one moment at a time, whether it’s for a small speaking engagement or a national TV appearance. When I share my near-death experience, I don’t worry about how many people I’m trying to impact. Instead, I put all my energy into connecting with people in the present moment.

My goal is lofty, but it gives me the power to believe in something other than myself, to shift my concentration from my own problems and limitations to the outside world.

Until I started communicating my message and getting feedback from an audience, I didn’t truly grasp my values. But the world is a mirror, and you’ll never see your reflection if you don’t put your entire heart and soul on display.

Big, powerful goals motivate you to strive for the impossible, and the first step is simply showing up.

Originally published on Medium.

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