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The One Question You Must Answer for a Life Full of Happiness and Fulfillment

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When you see very passionate people in business, education, or religious life you may wonder where that level of passion comes from. They can rant across the stage and we all, in rapt attention, follow their every movement and take notes on every word they say. These people exude passion and the radiate enthusiasm.

But passion is not manifested, it is derived. Individuals who’ve reached the top of their field do so because of two reasons: They have found the underlying, nonnegotiable objective of their life and they have pursued that objective with unbridled abandon. The pursuit of that nonnegotiable objective is what we as outsiders see as passion.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my consultancy over the years I have dealt with many effective but emotionally unhappy and unsatisfied individuals. The reason for their effectiveness is they were earning a great deal of money, loved their lifestyle, and felt a purposeful necessity to support themselves and their family. The reason for their unhappiness is that they were in a position that was not congruent with their nonnegotiable objective in life.

In other words, they wanted to be doing something else. However, they felt trapped. That trapped feeling showed itself in resentment toward work, peers, spouse children, etc. It also showed up in ill health, substance abuse, self-medicating, etc.

I know an individual who acquiesced his desire to become a classical guitarist so that he could pursue a career in engineering. I know another individual whose passion was teaching children but, at the insistence of his father became an accountant instead. Both of these individuals were effective in their jobs, content with their lot in life, but were fundamentally unhappy because they were not pursuing their ultimate dream and desire.

Over six decades ago Earl Nightingale suggested that he can help any person get what they want out of life, the problem is most people don’t know what they want. In over half a century, the same holds true. We simply do not know what we want. The reason? It is less painful not to think about it!

So, I have a question for you. This question may require some days of contemplation, or the answer may jump at you all at once. In either case, happiness, fulfillment and well-being is contingent upon the proper answer to this question:

What is the one true purpose of your life that will bring total happiness and fulfillment if you are able to pursue that purpose every day?

Simple, huh? I am not suggesting that this is an easy question to answer, I am saying that it is vital to answer if you want happiness and fulfillment. When you do what you love, everything else kind of falls into place.

Here a few steps you can take to answer that question:

Step 1: To start, take off the judge’s robe! Don’t be critical of yourself and don’t rationalize why you can’t do what it is that you want to do. If you find yourself saying, “That’s silly,” or, “I can’t do that,” or “I’m too young (old, rich, poor, smart, dumb”, whatever), stop it before you start this exercise.

Step 2: Ask yourself as honestly as you can, what is it that gets your heart racing. Now be honest, is it mountain climbing? Drag racing? Dressing in drag? Standup comedy? Running a multinational company? It doesn’t much matter the WHAT, because it is your WHAT!

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

Step 3: Can your heart pumping desire be monetized? In other words, can you make money on it? If the answer is no, then it is a great hobby, if the answer is yes, now you have a decision to make.

Step 4: Do I want to invest the time, effort and money in making this dream grow skin? Is it worth the risk? If the answer is no, then stop whining about it because you basically told yourself that this is something cool to think about but not go head over heels with. If the answer is yes, then figure out how to minimize the risk while getting others sold on your new mindset.

Step 5: Prepare yourself, don’t go into this foolishly. Have enough money saved and have the emotional buy in from others involved.

There you have it. Answer that question and move toward the fulfilment of your dreams. Is it really that simple? Yes. Is it really that easy? That is up to you.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at bill@intelligentmotivationinc.com or schedule a call with him by going to www.intelligentmotivationinc.com and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.

Life

7 Ways You Can Increase Your Concentration Right Away

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In today’s world, an overabundance of information and a large number of distractions is making it increasingly difficult to concentrate on performing the necessary tasks. In this article, I propose 7 simple methods that will train your ability to concentrate, while not taking you from your usual activities. (more…)

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5 Simple Hacks to Help You Develop the Habit That Will Transform Your Life

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It’s excruciating when we know what’s killing us but we can’t do anything about it because as you know, it is not easy to pull the brake on a high way. According to Napoleon Hill, “remember this always – the best (and one might say the only) way in which old habits may be removed is to form new habits to counteract and replace the undesirable ones”. (more…)

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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?

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When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?

As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?

Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.  

Let’s park this one for now and we will come back. 

Categorization is essential to our survival

There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses. 

The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.

An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.

In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.

When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting! 

Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.

  1. lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin 
  2. lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin

The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.

Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored. 

This amazing skill has its drawbacks

As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.

Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)

Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.  

This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.

Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.  

The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people

We can overcome unconscious bias 

Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals. 

Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms. 

Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds. 

The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals. 

What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!

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Life

The Problem Is Not Actually the Problem: Here’s Why

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With my understanding of the Three Principles, which is deepening month-by-month, I’m becoming more curious about whether the ‘problem’ that we think we have, is really a problem. Not for one second am I dismissing a persons’ experience; I’m human after all and I encounter challenges and what I think are ‘problems’ just like the next person. (more…)

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