“A defining moment is a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful.”

“A defining moment is a short experience that is both memorable and meaningful.”

—Chip & Dan Heath, The Power of Moments

Image from Unsplash by Charisse Kenion

I’d like to take you on a trip back in time.

After you read this post, close your eyes and reflect back on your life. Go back as far as you can to those memorable and meaningful moments, starting with your days as a child and all the way up to today. Take your time and visualize yourself and those who shared the moments with you.

Exploring old photo albums, yearbooks, and social media images and posts can expand your recollections.

Which events do you consider to be of greatest significance? What are the defining moments that shaped your values, beliefs, and character to have you become the person you are today?

EXERCISE:

How can and will you more consciously capture and appreciate more memorable and meaningful moments as you head into the days, weeks, and years that lie ahead?

“It’s often the bends in the road that make life worth the drive.”

“It’s often the bends in the road that make life worth the drive.”

—Nicholas Sparks, Author of A Bend in the Road

Image from Unsplash by Denys Nevozhai

When was the last time you took a long car ride? Go back in time to look at those family vacations where you loaded up the station wagon, minivan, or SUV and headed to parts unknown, to kick back and take life at a slower pace.

These days, many of us check our most popular navigation app to get where we want to go as directly as possible. This direct and speedy route often involves highways, lots of cement, asphalt, other vehicles, the occasional farm, and perhaps cows grazing along the road.

EXERCISE:

In what ways are the twists, turns, and bends in the road of life taking you on a much more meaningful and fulfilling journey? What intentional detours can and will you take now and in the future to enjoy the ride even more?

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”

“It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find it anywhere else.”

—Arthur Schopenhauer, 19th Century German Philosopher

Image from Amazon.com

Can you recall any of the words from Madonna’s song, Material Girl? If you do remember a few words, I bet you can also recall the melody.

We do live in a material world in which dealing with our day-to-day physical environment is essential. For most people, life is filled with highs and lows, with varying levels of happiness along the way.

A surprising thing happens when we periodically move beyond or perhaps better said, within, to examine, discover, and explore our spiritual and soulful selves.

EXERCISE:

Beyond deepening your own spiritual practices, consider exploring the journey toward greater happiness within by reading, and studying the book, Toward a Meaningful Life. Perhaps discuss it with others in your life who are also ready for a deeper look around.

“She was too deep for…”

“Her soul was too deep to explore by those who always swam in the shallow end.”

-A.J. Lawless

Image from ripplecentral.com

Image from ripplecentral.com

Most of us are familiar with the stories of prospectors digging for gold or other precious gems, and know that these valuable resources are rarely found at the surface. We must dig deep into the earth to claim them.

The same is true if we wish to reap the rich rewards of deep and meaningful relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. Scratching the surface with limited attention virtually never creates the respectful, trusting, and soulfully satisfying relationships we all desire.

EXERCISE:

Where and with whom can you explore and pursue a deeper, more meaningful relationship in either your personal or professional life?

“Little Things Mean a Lot.”

“Little Things Mean a Lot.”

— Carl Stutz/Edith Calisch, Songwriters

Image from perfectbodybywii.blogspot.com

Image from perfectbodybywii.blogspot.com

Big things get a lot of attention in our world. Society makes a point to recognize and celebrate things that stand out, such as:

  • The highest mountains
  • The tallest trees
  • The biggest buildings
  • The largest ships
  • Super-sized foods
  • The biggest athletes
  • The richest people
  • The largest homes

Meanwhile, when prompted to look closely at what brings them personal satisfaction and a life of meaning and purpose, many people list the often-overlooked “little things” that bring them smiles and fill their hearts.

EXERCISE:

If you, too, see the “little things” as big things in your life, consider generating a list of 20, 50, or even 100 “little things” that mean a lot to you.

“My Life is my message.”

“My Life is my message.”

-Mahatma Gandhi, leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was always helping and concerned about others. His aims in life included truth, non-violence, spirituality, honesty, discipline, and loyalty. His name, Mahatma, means “a great soul.” He was chosen as “Man of the Millennium” by the BBC.

Once, while Gandhi’s train was pulling out of a station, a European reporter ran to his compartment window. “Do you have a message I can take back to my people?” he asked. It was Gandhi’s day of silence, a vital respite from his demanding speaking schedule, so he didn’t reply. Instead, he scrawled these words on a scrap of paper and passed it to the reporter: “my life is my message.”

EXERCISE:

If your life were your message, what would the people around you say about you? Given, hopefully, many successful and meaningful years ahead, what new or different messages would your legacy include?

Please consider reviewing the links below to examine Gandhi’s extraordinary message in greater detail.

http://www.biography.com/people/mahatma-gandhi-9305898
http://www.history.co.uk/biographies/mahatma-gandhi
http://www.mkgandhi.org/

“The universe will fill your cup if you carry a big cup, a little cup, or a thimble.”

“The universe will fill your cup if you carry a big cup, a little cup, or a thimble.”

– Sonia Choquette, spiritual teacher and author

How full is your life? If it is so full that things are spilling out, perhaps this is because your life vessel is too small, and because some of the wrong things are trying to enter.

This quote points to the importance of the size of our life’s vessel, so that it can hold the abundance which the universe can provide. It suggests we have the ability to shift the size from one of limitation to one of greater proportions.

An additional consideration I’d like to suggest is to place a filter over the opening, and let only those people and experiences best suited to your specific life journey enter.

Exercise:

What actions will you take now and in the future both to expand the capacity of your life container and to accept only the highest quality ingredients for a full and happy life?

In other words, let’s go for both: quantity and quality.

#102: “That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry D. Thoreau, author and leading transcendentalist

My father Marvin, at the age of 85, is one of the people I most admire. Throughout my life, he always referred to himself as one of the richest men in the world. We lived very modestly in a row house in Philadelphia, and I can never recall him complaining about his life.

He included among his riches:

  • A loving marriage
  • A job as a teacher, coach and counselor, where he got to make a difference
  • A happy family life with three wonderful kids (including me :-))
  • Good health
  • Close and loyal friends
  • A good sense of humor to laugh at life and even at himself

 Exercise:

What are your personal riches that cost you little, yet bring you great wealth?

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#75: “Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle…”

“… For others the puzzle is more difficult to assemble. But know this: you do not have within yourself all of the pieces of your puzzle. Everyone carries with them at least one and probably many pieces to someone else’s puzzle… When you present your piece, which is worthless to you, to another, whether you know it or not, you are a messenger from the Most High.”

– Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

There is a corny sentiment in romantic movies: “you complete me.” What if this really is true and that we all have within us a certain quality, characteristic, skill, or gift that makes another person more whole and complete?

Exercise:

What special gifts and talents do you have to contribute?

What gaps or missing pieces are there in your life that need filling?

How would a greater awareness of these allow you to fulfill your highest purpose?

Quotes are posted on The Quotable Coach a week after being sent out by email. To get the latest quotes straight to your inbox, pop your details in the sidebar to the right.