You Deserve to be Happy
I believe you deserve a job that charges you up, gives you energy and lets you go home with a profound sense of fulfillment almost every day.
Your work life is a substantial part of ‘you’ and when that part is fulfilled, you’ll notice that it produces an infectious vibe that permeates into all the other parts of your life. It strengthens your relationships with those around you who matter most.
The perfect job may sound like a fantasy, but attaining it is easier than you think. You may already have it, but for mysterious reasons, you’re just not attuned to it.
Finding Your Life’s Themes
Experiencing happiness and fulfillment in life can only come when your day-to-day endeavors perfectly align with your life’s themes. You’re life’s themes are the few things that describe who you truly are at your core. These are the themes that have traveled with you throughout your life and have always been on your side.
I’m a strong believer that everything in your life becomes more meaningful and satisfying when you find and follow your life’s themes. Everyone has them and they’re usually based on the simplest things. But the problem is that the larger things and struggles we have in our lives make them hard to identify. Our life’s themes become elusive to grasp and that makes them challenging to pursue.
It took me thousands of miles enduring many hardships on the road to discover my life’s themes, but the result has helped me become one of the Silicon Valley’s leading business network relationship coaches. More importantly, it has helped me see the full potential life has to offer.
So what are life’s themes and how do you find them?
To Get Hold of Your Future, Let Go
In 2007, my wife and I were leading a ‘typical’ life and entrenched in our daily Silicon Valley routines. But something was missing. We felt like we were experiencing life through a skewed lens of reality.
Imagine looking at a coral reef from above the crystal clear waters. The formations, colors and marine life are visible below. You can recognize them for what they are, but there’s an invisible barrier that’s altering the true reality of their appearance. It’s only when we pierce the barrier and experience the reef up close, view it from within the water, that the full richness of the ecosystem reveals itself.
As the notion of our skewed perception grew stronger, we decided to set out on an epic 10-month journey we called the ‘Circle the Pacific Tour’ with the goal of discovering how others viewed reality. If you’re intrigued about what backpacking through several continents, visiting remote villages and becoming immersed in their cultures was like, you can read our chronicle of the full adventure here.
During that time, the amount we learned about life and relationships was staggering and beyond any expectations we had for our trip. It spurred profound personal discoveries and a much-needed reality check that still positively reverberates through our lives today.
Our travels certainly tested our relationship and challenged the long-standing views we held that guided us through life up to that point. It’s amazing what you encounter while backpacking through the Bolivian salt plains, or deep in the Amazon jungle. Life is very different when experienced from a remote Laotian village in Southeast Asia. Although in many of the areas throughout our travels large families shared sparse dwellings that were no larger than a small garage, there was still a buoyant pride and calm satisfaction with their surroundings. They can provide all of us with important insights on how to lead fulfilled lives.
Upon our return, a casual stroll down Market Street would never be the same.
Piercing the Lens Through Deep Meditation
The real moment of clarity for me came during an intense 10-day period in Thailand. My wife and I decided to join a Buddhist monastery for an immersive experience in silent meditation and leading a monastic lifestyle.
Many people have an interest in meditation but are a little nervous about some of the connotations that surround it. My experience in Thailand gave me a realization on just how powerful meditation can be.
Describing meditation from a Western viewpoint, the practice is nothing more than the physical workout of your mental faculties, training you mind as you would your body. When you train your physical body, it performs better. You become stronger, more limber, and your endurance increases. When you meditate, the same thing happens with your mind. It becomes capable of thinking clearer and more able to recognize patterns before they turn into problems. Your mind becomes stronger, more able to resist the unskillful reactions produced by being in the “fight or flight” mode. And, perhaps most exciting, your mind is better able to help you naturally fall into states of sustained happiness.
During that experience, I learned how training your mind to concentrate at levels much deeper than you’ve ever experienced in your life, can lead to life-altering clarity. Immersed in the simple surroundings of the monastery, I was able to see my path clearly.
When you start meditating, you have what’s called a ‘monkey mind.’ You notice your thoughts jump randomly from thinking about the weather, to the itch on your left thigh, to wondering what you need to add to the shopping list. That is your mind trying to escape the practice of focusing on just one meditative object (very often your breath.) But the more you practice, the more your mind becomes intrigued by it and attaches itself to the practice. Soon, you become good at it and you’re able to concentrate at levels you might never have thought possible.
After awhile, the only thoughts that can disrupt the deep state of concentration you’ve achieved are very profound thoughts. Thoughts that are life-moving or life-impacting; the relationship you had with your mother, or overcoming the dramatic experiences of your past. In my case, my profound thoughts dealt with my future career path.
Basically, as I was in a deep state of concentration, my mind switched to thoughts of what I was going to do with my life when I got back to San Francisco. What was so amazing about the experience was, because my mind was in that high state of concentration, it served up the answers with a speed and clarity I had never experienced before. It felt true, simple and logical, perfectly describing who I am and what I needed to pursue.
Four specific themes manifested in my mind that aligned perfectly with who I was, and had always been. I was able to fortify these themes with direct evidence from many past experiences, the way an articulate lawyer presented indisputable facts in front of the Supreme Court.
It was easy to subscribe to them because there was little doubt they could be wrong. The effortless internal thinking process resulted in a very simple statement of outcome that said: “All you have to do is find a profession in which all, or most, of these four themes were represented.”
As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I woke up out of meditation and was completely blown away from the experience. Obviously, ever since then, I’m a firm believer that the practice of meditation can help you learn the skills to lead a mindful and fulfilling life, both personally and professionally.
I ended up calling those themes my life themes.
My Life Themes
My life themes are very simple to explain. One of the beautiful things about life themes is they’re usually very simple and very clear. In my case, I have four.
Optimizing: I’ve always enjoyed optimizing and it’s something I’ve always done, even as a small child. When I was young, if I was given five hours to solve a problem, I was the type that could spend four hours figuring out the best way to solve the problem, which allowed the actual problem to be solved in only an hour.
Another factor in optimization is process. My passion for problem-solving and process analysis is why I enjoy coming up with best practices and work flows. Because I enjoy it so much, I’ve become very good at it.
I’m also addicted to technology and find that utilizing technology to optimize processes can greatly enhance workflows. That’s why, I suspect, I ended up living in the Silicon Valley.
Wisdom: The next theme was the realization that I always received a great sense of fulfillment and satisfaction after having offered valuable advice. I’ve always enjoyed when people glean meaningful insights from my shared thoughts and it helps them create powerful change.
People: I’ve always been intrigued by people and I love listening to them as well. I enjoy trying to understand people and what motivates them. Leading a more fulfilled life and navigating the paths to reach your full potential can sometimes present puzzling challenges. I love solving those puzzles.
Entertaining: This is probably the simplest and most enjoyable theme. I enjoy entertaining people. As a high school student, I always threw parties and would DJ to provide the entertainment. Today, I love giving speeches and presentations to a crowded room, especially when that crowd walks out inspired and ready to change their lives for the better.
The Creation of Mindmaven and Network Relationship Management
What all this meant was I had to go back to San Francisco and get a job that had most, if not all, of my life’s themes represented in it. You can probably already imagine what happened. As I looked through the available options, not a single position or opportunity allowed me to engage in all the things I desired at the same time. I quickly came to the realization that I had to bravely take the step of creating that ideal job myself – and that insight led directly to the creation of Mindmaven and the practice of Network Relationship Management.
It’s been more than six years since I decided to let go and take that leap. In hindsight, that decision was the third best decision I’ve ever made in my life. (I’ll let you guess what my first and second best decisions were.) It allowed me to firmly grab hold of my future and begin climbing the heights of my full potential.
How to Define Your Life’s Themes
The good news for you is, you don’t need to journey to Thailand to get into a meditative state in order to figure out your life’s themes. There are simpler techniques and ways to identify what your driving influences are and how to harness them. Here’s a link to a recent blog post I’ve written that can help you. Enjoy!