Our life, our happiness and the very font of our desires are discovered and displayed as we connect with our personal essence.
For those seeking greater happiness but have never thought about their own essence, consider the concept now.
Essence is described as the quality or qualities of a thing that give it identity. It relates to something spiritual rather than tangible and feels something akin to one’s unique aroma or scent. The ancient roots of essence find their meaning in the Latin word esse, meaning, simply, to be.
In a chaotic world consumed by externalization — busyness at work, frenzied commitments, conflicts on all sides — it’s easy to lose touch with our simple state of being. Not surprisingly, it’s that inner being the leads us to the essence of our life and the source of our joy and satisfaction.
Finding Our Essence
Searching for a photo that captured my own essence, the above image immediately came to mind. That’s me third from the left, a smiling preschooler standing with excitement among neighborhood friends and my younger brother.
As I look back to my earliest years, it’s easy for me to connect with my essence. I felt most joyful, most alive and at my most natural when surrounded by other people. Playing in our neighborhood cul-de-sac with friends was golden, going to kindergarten to meet new classmates, and attending large family gatherings filled my heart with an inner sunshine. Daydreaming about meeting friends from other parts of the world also filled me with wonder; for me, there material replacements could not compare with being in the presence others.
The words of ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius in the above quote captures the essence of who I am. I see others as distant relatives or, more specifically, as siblings God never gave me. Whether writing, speaking, engaging with or interviewing others, everything I do today finds its source and inspiration from that simple essence.
If you’ve been feeling empty, exhausted or dis-spirited, I hope you listen in to my latest podcast. In it, I talk more about essence and offer a few ways in which you can access your own!
“All good things which exist are the fruits of originality.”
~ John Stuart Mill
You don’t have to come from the “cookie cutter generation” to appreciate this most recent, lighthearted podcast. Anyone who has been conformed to a mass-produced, prefabricated shape — whether via occupation, lifestyle or mindset — knows what it means to feel like a copy rather than an inspired original.
Cookies provide a great analogy for life.
As humans, we’re all part of the same batter. In typical fashion, we’ve also been carved out and patterned in specific ways. For example, we’re defined and codified by our respective outer worlds that include our religious, cultural, economic and educational backgrounds.
As children, we each possessed a bit of sparkle, a natural sense of originality. There was a “more” factor within us desiring to be expressed and experienced!
Somehow, the conforming factors and experts in our sub-societies knew better. And we complied and conformed ourselves to fit in.
By the time we grew up, we forgot about our inner selves. We were no longer mindful of the untapped parts of us that could give place to those individual leanings, talents and ideas. We settled into familiar comfort zones and turned into copies of our environment rather than original versions of ourselves.
We’ve left unbaked parts of our personalities and brilliance in our proverbial kitchen.
If you’ve ever wanted to step out of conformity or exercise a bit more creativity in life, I hope you’ll enjoy this easy listening podcast. In it, you’ll be introduced to my zumba instructor Debbie Rivas and to Tampa author Brenda Martin. They are two women whose lives have continued to evolve over time and who are happy being their own kind of cookie today!
If you’re wondering how to take this metaphorical leap, consider two synergistically inspiring items from legendary singer and actress Judy Garland.
The first is her above quote which makes a case for authenticity. The other is her unforgettable performance singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz.
Garland’s quote and song convey the same message: a happier and loftier life experience awaits us as we step out and over our proverbial rainbow.
But how to do it?
We do it by taking a quantum leap and acting upon a belief system that lies within.
Early Aspirations v. Conformity to an “Adult” World
Can you remember yourself as a youngster? Back then, you effortlessly connected with the enlightened belief in a brilliant and benevolent world. It was easy to trust in the beauties of a sublime life; childhood innocence needs little prompting to be drawn into the finer attributes of goodness.
Over time, however, many childhood dreams were forced to fade. They were programmed to submit to wearisome ideas, to surrender to voices appealing to “grown up” reasoning.
We’ve ultimately conceded our aspirations, lost much of our natural joy and adapted ourselves to a lesser world. It’s no wonder that societal norms have turned our previously magnanimous hearts into darkened shadows of a defeated, if unwitting, prey.
We’ve been beaten down by naysayers who already succumbed to mediocrity and unwittingly convinced us to do the same. We’ve also been daunted and taunted by demigods laying claim to their rarefied spaces in the world. Rather than welcoming innovative ideas or new contributors, they’ve guarded their positions. So human hearts have sunk as faulty power structures remained intact, unquestioned and unchallenged.
Serving the Status Quo v. Stepping into the Bigger Self
Serving the status quo contributes to a state of unhappiness. It stifles our soul, quenches our hope and denies us the dawning of a brighter and more abundant life today.
We can remain within the these limiting frontiers or launch out to the inner — and outer — experience of pioneering growth. We can answer the call for more when it beckons us to cross over the rainbow.
Perhaps you’ve been moved by Judy Garland’s Dorothy character in The Wizard of Oz. Your inner hopes for happiness and self-manifestation cannot be fully extinguished.Like her,you’ve refused to accept the limiting perspective presented by a fearful, dark and lackluster world and you feel destined to experience more.
Serving the status quo versus stepping out is a life story to be played out by us all.
As moviegoers, we can smile in assent as the young Dorothy returns to the wonderful and beloved world she once left behind. We remind ourselves while watching, “See! I knew she would eventually return beyond the rainbow, back to her heart’s true home.”
What we should also discover is that Dorothy’s journey over the rainbow and on her way back home tells everyone’s tale of personal growth and enrichment. Her story provides the universal parable of our belief in the unseen and our faith in the eternal paradise of the heart.
At the film’s beginning, Judy Garland’s young Dorothy character is prayerfully singing about traveling “somewhere” over the rainbow. She can’t lay physical claim to it, but her heart knows the veracity of that elusive place.
Watching Garland’s character, we learn the “how to’s” of a return home to our greater heart space. We observe Dorothy activate her courage, leverage her wits, develop new relationships and confront the curtains of presumptive authority. In facing the fiery trials of doubts and fears, Dorothy tests her own mettle and presses ever forward in her inner belief.
Eventually, the tentative, perplexed and childish Dorothy matures and metamorphoses into a first rate version of her grander self.
Making Your Personal Leap
Watching the purposed character in Oz, we’re not to know exactly how Dorothy leaps across a rainbow to reach the bigger dream burning in her heart. We’re never quite sure of the exact deed she did or the moment when she transcended the last daunting thought poised to tame her emboldened spirit.
Yet, inwardly, we understand how Dorothy’s quest to return to a superior and loving society eventually becomes her new experience. It’s the process, rather than the details, that transformed her dreams to reality. And it’s the emboldened spirit that prompted a first rate version of her character to manifest.
We are all a microcosm of Judy Garland’s quote calling forth our truer self.
Inwardly, our hearts still aspire. We yearn for the fuller life our childlike imaginations prepared for us. Our spirits, in truth, don’t want to settle for second-rate versions of ourselves.
But a personal leap of faith is required to embody Judy Garland’s Dorothy character. We must step out to “un-do” our acquired trainings and beliefs. We must intentionally pierce through our tangled labyrinth of social, mental and emotional barriers.
We know our personal happiness and first-rate self awaits each of us Somewhere, Over the Rainbow. Here’s your personal reminder:
Best wishes for happiness as you step over the rainbow and claim a first rate version of yourself, too!
Have we substituted money for our true wealth, what American essayist Henry David Thoreau describes as the ability to fully experience life?
The question has often piqued my curiosity and prompted my 100th podcast.
If money were the final arbiter to an abundant life, wouldn’t those with the largest sums of it would be legendary? They’d claim the best health and longevity; the greatest joys from personal pursuits; the happiest marriages and relationships; and the highest levels of peace and well-being.
But they don’t.
Admittedly, money is a necessary vehicle of exchange that provides us with access to clothing, shelter and transportation. Money can connect us with lots of good things, but it has hardly lived up to its reputation for delivering us true wealth.
Comparative Life Stories
Growing up in the late ’60s, I discovered the hypnotic properties of money as a substitute for self worth. I also learned something about true wealth.
A seminal event occurred when a relative drove up to our house one day in his “new” used car. He, his wife and their four growing children clumsily crept out of a squared-off, dark brown vehicle that could have served as side car to a German military tank.
Back then, our Made-in-America world was typified by Detroit’s popular, sleek and aesthetically designed automobiles. So I wondered where such an old and unattractive relic came from.
An awkward moment arose when we stepped outside to inspect this curious vehicle known as a Mercedes. I knew that a family-sized station wagon or a sumptuous new Cadillac would have garnered legitimate raves. Instead, any genuine praise was replaced by odd talk about the car’s sturdiness and longevity.
It wasn’t until I discovered this foreign car was known for its expensive sticker price that my confusion turned to clarity: my uncle had purchased his over-priced elephant to impress other people. He needed an expensive foreign car to compensate for an obvious deficit in self-worth.
The event served as my first lesson in money being used as replacement for abundance. Fortunately, I would come away with other lessons.
Wealth Without Much Money
Some of my happiest — and richest — memories arose through my childhood friendship with Phyllis Fritzlo. The Fritzlos lived a few houses away from us in a ground floor apartment of a modest, 2-family home. Phyllis’ mother didn’t drive and her dad drove an older model car. Mr. Fritzlo was a handsome, outgoing and jovial family man who worked as truck driver or laborer in New York’s garment industry. He loved bringing dresses home from the factory and gushed over his two daughters’ beauty as they modeled their new clothes.
The Fritzlos were hardly awash in cash but their happiness, hospitality and family wealth are unforgettable to me.
Favorite memories include sitting around their kitchen table after school, all of us in rapt conversation. The Fritzlos welcomed company of all ages, including us kids. Most legendary was the Fritzlo brand of homemade spaghetti sauce. I loved watching Mr. Fritzlo cook up an impromptu sauce by crushing fresh tomatoes grown in the family’s backyard.
Another abundantly happy day took place in late Spring of 1967. It marked Phyllis’s 9th birthday and several of us girls were invited to join her and her dad for a special trip to New York City. Six of us girls jumped on a bus, buzzed through the Lincoln Tunnel and emerged in Times Square. We walked around in the warm sunshine feeling quite special. The highlight of our day was sitting down for pizza at one of New York’s many pizza parlors. In magical fashion, music from the Young Rascals pop hit Groovin’ (on a Sunday Afternoon)wafted through the pizza parlor’s speakers.
Mr. Fritzlo’s monetary outlay that day was likely nominal but the experience was priceless to me and probably for the other girls, too.
We’re all to blame for this socially mis-engineered condition.
We’ve fallen prey to the belief that we need money to live. We’ve allowed money to rule over our value systems, our institutions and even our critical life decisions. But when the value of money is placed above the worth of our very lives, we feel the opposite of wealthy. We feel devalued, underappreciated and even drained of energy and joy.
If you have ever pondered why money carries such an overwhelming importance in our lives and decision-making processes, I hope you listen in to my 100th milestone podcast.
If you’ve ever blamed others for compromising themselves to money or have condemned yourself for doing the same, you should find some uplift. Regardless of past or current circumstances, we can all make room for small adjustments that deliver us wealthier lifestyles.
Then, listen in to author and tiny house celebrity Felice Cohen who shares with us what makes her happy from the inside out, too.
We’ve all experienced at least one bad example in life.
These poor examples can show up as parents, teachers, bosses or other personalities we might have otherwise hoped to emulate. Their negative effects often remain with us, sometimes long after those relationships have expired!
In this podcast, I share two bad examples from my own life and discuss how the difficulties I experienced were ultimately used for good.
We’ll examine why certain people we’ve expected better from flounder in their own frailties. And we’ll also consider how to become beneficiaries of things we’ve learned from the errors of others.
If you have struggled with bad examples in life or ever felt like a victim, this is an empowering and thought-provoking podcast. Expect it to help you move forward in life as you change your perceptions, create new intentions and make a choice for inner happiness.
Then, listen in to Frederic Bye from Montreal, Canada as he shares what makes him happy from the inside out, too.
Beauty is more than skin deep and it can manifest itself in limitless ways.
Whether you realize it or not, beauty is waiting to be discovered in you!
We often limit our ideas on this topic, defining beauty into narrow categories that restrict our awareness of it and obscure its wide spectrum of possibilities. However, the deeper and more esoteric definitions of the word far exceed our imagination. In fact, these broader definitions beg us to disclose beauty in new forms and modes of expression.
Join me in this podcast as we take a look at the fuller definitions of beauty. You’ll be inspired to broaden your notions on the subject and stop perceiving it — and yourself — through the limiting lens of your traditional five senses.
Come away with an increased sense of self-appreciation and the expectation of what’s yet to be manifested of true and lasting beauty — in and through you!
If you’re on a path to happiness from within, you’ll find this to be an empowering podcast. As you consider its implications, you’ll also discover how disclosing your own beauty will help improve and inspire the lives of those around you.
There’s an old adage known as “Silence is Golden” and it forms the inspiration for my latest podcast.
Are you choosing when to speak and when to be silent, too?
In this podcast, we explore the “silence is golden” adage that dates way back to the early Egyptians. Using a bit of observation with life scenarios that are common to us all, I invite listeners to discover new ways we can inject peace into our lives and the lives of others, too.
Enjoy this inspiring self-empowerment podcast episode 097 entitled, Is Your Silence Golden? As you tune in, allow it to remind you of your own power to positively influence your peace and that of the world around you.
Then, listen in as Helena from Bosnia & Herzegovina shares with us what makes her happy from the inside out.
Enjoy your speech, and enjoy the golden goodness of your silence, too!
Perhaps it’s time to start investing your energies where they matter to you!
In a world often caught up in the 24/7 news cycle that draws us into anger, polarity, defensiveness and aggression, we can unknowingly allow our own batteries to drain. The power of our inner light, creativity and happiness depletes as we give it away to these lower energies.
But we can also turn the tide and refuel ourselves by changing our focus. Specifically, we can choose to invest our energies in vital, uplifting and productive pursuits that re-energize ourselves and those around us.
In this podcast, we explore how you can become a regenerating source.
Rather than continually draining yourself with negative news presented by others, consider creating some positive experiences of your own. If you’ve needed some good news and a recharge to your spirit, today’s podcast will provide you with a transformative and life-affirming message.
You can be a source to create your own happiness – from the inside out!
Then, listen as Christy James, a professor at Liberty University, shares what makes her happy from the inside out, too.
We don’t have to be a child to feel warmed, encouraged and empowered by the above words. Taken from from A.A. Milne’s adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the adage recalls wisdom imparted to the young Christopher Robin from his trustworthy and devoted teddy bear friend Pooh.
The familiar quote offers strengthening advice for a young boy who would one day become a man. But for many of us who remember hearing these words as children, the message still echoes like pearls of hope and expectation today.
We might be eight, eighty or somewhere in between. But at one time or another, we all face the same daunting question, “Can I do this?”
The question arises when we consider our hopes, aspirations or visions for the future and doubt our ability to achieve them.
“Can I do this?” is sometimes vocalized, but more frequently internalized.
The enormity of the question can sometimes haunt us from within. It reaches to the depths of our sense of self. We measure what’s required of us for success against the limited courage, strength and smarts we believe we possess.
This week’s podcast speaks to that very question that recently arose as I observed a group of young adults. They were aspiring to heights that exceeded their previous life experience but knew that their hopes and expectations would force them to step up — and into — bigger realms of the unknown.
If you’ve ever doubted yourself and wondered if there’s a braver, stronger and smarter you waiting to be revealed, I hope you listen in to Podcast 095: Can I Do This?
Wishing you the happy fulfillment of your life’s innermost quest!
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If you are, how are you choosing to communicate it?
In the past few days, I heard the expression “speaking your truth” referenced twice. On both occasions, the adage struck me in a positive fashion.
As I considered the manner in which we convey our belief systems to others, the expression seemed to challenge me anew.
I had been listening intently on a global summit to two people who paved different life paths. Creatives with their own social and entrepreneurial bents, they had followed their hearts. Rather than following conventional wisdom or the status quo, they answered to an inner calling instead.
As these people shared elements of their backgrounds, I realized that “speaking one’s truth” carried a deeper meaning — one that clearly went beyond words. As a result of their intentions, actions and presumably tireless efforts, these two people carried a natural presence.
Their presence was tangible and apparent. They needed few, if any, words to convey who they were or what they stood for. They were living their truth in the flesh.
Spoken another way, their inner lives had transformed into externalized realities that could be understood or read by others.
I’m reminded here of the compelling description of Jesus, known as “the word made flesh,” who became the embodiment of his own message.
The following apt quote from another source also speaks about this powerful physiological phenomena:
“The mind is everything. What you think you become.” ~ Buddha
In light of present day strife, division and miscommunication, I’m impressed to consider the power of presence as a higher way of conveying our truth.
Speaking our truth with mere words is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it empowers us to step out of the shadows and declare our genuine beliefs. But speaking our truth can be perceived as effrontery, an abrasive or arrogant way to ramrod one’s opinions down the throats of others.
What adds confusion to “speaking our truth” is when words we employ are misinterpreted or misconstrued.
Words, frequently assigned to negative or inflammatory labels and symbols, can evoke different meanings than those we intend. Used alone, they can fail us in conveying the messages we wish to share and frustrate our best efforts to make ourselves heard.
Fortunately, we’re living in an era when a solid, genuine and sincere presence may trump the din of conflict. It can lift our common human spirit up to higher planes.
A well-lived physical presence might even contribute to what many of us desire: a world of peace, understanding and collective goodwill.
If you’ve considered “speaking your truth” in various settings and contemplated how your words might be interpreted, I hope you scroll down and listen to my latest podcast. In it, I explore the idea of speaking truth and changing outcomes through our inherent character and presence.
It’s an alternative way of communicating that can bring welcome unity to bridge divides and comforting closure to otherwise insurmountable gaps.