A great life doesn’t just happen – it has to be created. I talk a lot about PURPOSE on this blog and in my coaching, and sometimes it can seem totally overwhelming to find the “one thing” we’re supposed to be doing.
As discussed before, I thin it’s far more useful to think of purpose as a funnel, aka, a sense of direction in our lives.
Recently I’ve been breaking that direction down into four elements that I’ve found lead to a sense of direction and deep fulfillment in life. Having these elements in your life will soothe your soul and make you more attractive and available to everyone in your life.
This one is a near epidemic these days, and it’s just PLAY. As men, we can get SO goal focused that it’s so easy to go weeks, month, and hell even YEARS without having any actual FUN or PLAY in our lives. It’s easy for us as kids, but then as we get older and take on more and more burden and responsibilities it pretty much disappears other than the occasional vacation or special outing.
Play as I’m talking about is a very specific STATE of being. In fact, Dr. Stuart Brown says the following: “The opposite of play is not work—the opposite of play is depression.”
Play itself bring us into a timeless state, has no specific meaningful goal attached (we play for playing’s sake), we do it by CHOICE because we want to, it requires us to be in the PRESENT and OUT OF OUR HEADS, and even if it requires physical exhaustion it BRINGS US ENERGY.
And here’s the truth, it doesn’t TAKE VERY LONG to feel the benefits of PLAY. I often sprinkle in just a few minutes during breaks of fun games and “PLAY” during my Shadow Breakthrough Weekends for Men, and it’s AMAZING quickly guys start laughing, light up, and seemingly grow ten years younger before me.
For me, physically leaving the house and going out to see a movie is one of my favorite forms of “play”. So is beating stuff up at a Rage Room, playing ultimate frisbee, body-boarding, improv and improv games, and roaming through the Playa at Burningman letting adventure guide me.
YOU MUST PLAY TO STAY HEALTHY!
Often times these four elements can start to overlap. I actually consider ART to often be a form of play and vice versa, but it’s not always the case. Art, as I say it, comes down to EXPRESSION. Finding ways to express your feelings, values, and life experiences through creative means. Poetry, painting, photography, journaling, woodworking, metallurgy, singing, music, the opportunities to create art are ENDLESS. Far too many men I know discount art as something available to them, claiming they don’t have an “artistic talent” or aren’t an artist.
Anyone can be an artist, and what matters here is EXPRESSION. Creating art and expressing ourselves can be incredibly liberating in mind, body, and spirit.
An easy example that inspired me a few years ago was posting mirrored tree pictures to instagram. I did it for about two months, and it was incredibly rewarding! In fact, I moved through the world differently, always looking out for a new shot.
Filmmaking is also one of my arts and means of expression. I don’t make a living full time doing it, but I’m incredibly passionate about it for EXPRESSIONS sake.
Now ask yourself, what’s your art? What do you do throughout your life as expression for expression’s sake??
Giving without expectation is another way to feed our souls and create deep satisfaction in our lives. Service, be it mentoring, volunteering, teaching, etc, is an incredible way to get yourself OUT OF YOUR HEAD. Many men I work with get lost in their own lives, and SERVICE is one of the fastest tools I’ve found to create some perspective in life, and almost always generate positive feelings of gratitude. Giving back to your community, friends, and the world, is a sacred act.
Volunteering at a soup kitchen, helping to care for horses at an equestrian farm, signing up to be a BIG BROTHER, doing beach cleanup days, there are most definitely a TON of opportunities for you to serve in your local community.
I’ve been a big brother before, pulled weeds at a nature center, and in recent years lead connection related events for my local community here in Los Angeles. Every SINGLE time I create space in my life to serve, I leave the activity with MORE energy than I went into it with. It’s also a killer way to BUILD COMMUNITY, and expand your network and break out of routine wherever you live.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know by now I think that EVERY MAN should be in a men’s group. We ALL need connection, it feeds us, soothes us, and nourishes us. America is a PRIVACY focused country – it’s embedded in our cultural DNA to value PRIVACY more than COMMUNITY.
CARS are a huge part of our culture, which are a mobilized form of that privatization. Not only that, but with our cell phone social media culture, we can pretty much live, work, and eat without really having to interact with other HUMANS!
Europe is such a major draw for many Americans because they do the opposite – their older cities were built for humans, not cars, and are built to contain PUBLIC spaces for PEOPLE, not CARS, and are WAY LESS focused on making everything private. Beer gardens, piazzas, church steps, public gardens and parks, cafe seating on the streets, robust public transportation, ALL of these things put us IN CONNECTION WITH OTHER PEOPLE and creates community.
Not spending more time with loved ones is consistently one of the TOP REGRETS of those on their deathbed.
Between 25-45% of people in the US self report feeling LONELY, and that has a HUGE COST. Isolation can increase chances of PREMATURE death by nearly 25%! We are social creatures, and our nervous systems are straight up WIRED to need other people around us.
MAKE THE TIME to build strong community, and then commit to actually spending time with them on a regular basis. BBQs, men’s group, hiking, MAKING art, whatever it may be – AND DON’T wait for others to do it, you can become a LEADER by creating opportunities for connection and community where you live.