Gravitas to Gratitude

This year, January arrives with a heavy dose of gravitas. Anxiety often accompanies a sense of solemnity, weighing us down during times of change. And we are certainly in the midst of big change. Here’s the thing — worry, a particular type of anxiety, represents the most useless of all human emotions. In fact, we humans are the only species with minds capable of imagining future outcomes, outcomes that rarely happen the way we imagine them. This allows us to be consciously aware of our fears, and to analyze them, leaving us to wonder, how to cope with them? Despite the challenges of this situation, I want to infuse my advice with a message of inspiration and optimism. In this spirit, I’m sharing with you what my clients often call a “Kate-ism:”     Replace gravitas with gratitude.

Replace worry with gratitude

The best thing we can do when we are overcome by this sense of anxiety is to replace thoughts of what we are worried about with thoughts of what makes us thankful. Shift your focus to hope and positivity, and your whole mindset changes.

I use this practice often in my personal and professional life. Recently, gratitude helped me cope with serious news from a friend. He is having a malignant tumor removed soon, and asked for my support. When I heard, my heart sank, and my mind flooded with worst-case scenarios. I knew I had to focus on replacing my anxious thoughts with gratitude. I told him how grateful I was for his confidence in me, and that he could count on my support. I shared how grateful I was that he had a top surgeon, a strong prognosis, and an optimistic outlook.

As I felt and expressed my gratitude, my body relaxed, my breathing deepened. I connected more deeply with my friend. If the worry appears again, I will reiterate my gratitude again and again.

Gratitude is a Mindset

Gratitude is a mindset, an attitude that must be practiced. Gratitude is a way of being together — at home and in the workplace. What are you grateful for? How do you express your gratitude?

I invite you to fully embody and express your gratitude this week be it through a message, an acknowledgment of a coworker, spending time with your child, or a comment to a friend over dinner. Remember, if unwelcome gravitas enters the space, simply acknowledge it, and then give thanks for what really matters.

Personal Purpose #3: Find Your Passions

Our passions, what we love to do, frequently do not make great career choices. We most often assume a trade-off between passion and security.

Before we begin our work together, I ask each of my clients about their passions...what they most love doing or being. In return, I've experienced a range of emotions from blank stares, to big smiles of delight to tears of sadness from not knowing or being alientated from their joy. As I've written before, when we discover our passions, we also meet our compassion...our heart opens...and somehow we find our way to what it is that compels us and calls us forth.

Here are a few steps you can take to help uncover your passions: 
1. Fall in love 
If we feel a committed sense of caring and compassion for something, someone or some concern, we may find our passions there.

2.Look for Intensity
In terms of color, our passions are toward the red end of the spectrum. Passion, says Greg Levoy, “spills from us like heat from a fire…the smelling salts of the soul."

3. Discover what you would most hate to lose in life
What is it that you pursue for its own sake? What do you study when there are no tests to take? What do you create even though no one may ever see it? What matters most to you, whether you are doing it or not—what do you fantasize about doing if you weren’t worried about consequences, about money or about making anyone else happy but yourself? What fills you with the same feeling that poet Anne Sexton refers to when she writes,  “…when I’m writing, I know I am doing the thing I was born to do”?

4. Get to know yourself
Discover yourself, who you are, what your essence is, what you are made up of and what makes your soul soar. Knowledge of self unlocks the door to identifying your passions and choosing to lead a fulfilling life. In order to do this, you must possess the ability to observe and name your feelings. This ability will be your cornerstone to discovering your passions and discerning your life’s work.

Knowing and pursuing our passions contributes to the discovery of self and our true work. May you play in your passions and live in flow with ease and grace. To learm more about how to discover your purpose send an email to  info@5steppingstones.com

Personal Purpose #2: What Moves You?

Discerning your life's work must be much more than a response to what you want to do with your life. Our true work, the work that will ultimately last for a lifetime, is that to which our divine nature calls us. Our job is to discover it, discern it and finally, accept it.

Realizing and embracing our passions in life contributes another important step in the discovery of our purpose and life's work. Following our call resembles the same kind of long-term commitment as a partnership or marriage. If we choose to enter into a committed relationship with another person, we want to be sure that we truly love and share a common purpose with that person. Long-term, committed relationships always involve both struggle and joy, and there must be some higher purpose in the relationship or you won’t be able to maintain it.

Our passions, what we love to do and care about most, frequently do not make great career choices. We most often experience a trade-off between passion and security. Yet, when we embrace our passions, we also meet our compassion and somehow find our way to what it is that compels and calls us forth. We can then consider whether we are willing to risk it all to follow the call. That is the essence of our life’s work — it calls us forth never back. We feel, hear or somehow acknowledge that pull and move toward it without delay.

Discovering your life's work involves taking a number of steps including: trusting yourself and your memories, noticing your inner stirrings and visions, carving out non-busy time for you to get to know yourself, using your imagination and relying on those who know you best.  To learn more about how to discover your purpose send an email to  info@5steppingstones.com

Personal Purpose #1: Who Am I?

The first step on the path to discovering your life’s work involves gaining a deep and honest knowing of yourself.

Getting to know what energizes you, what gives you hope and puts a fire in your belly begins you on the path to discerning your true work. Before you can go too far, you need to become aware of who you are, what you value, where you are, and where you want to go.

While this sounds like a fairly simple task, we often live unconsciously, unaware of the beliefs and values that drive us, the opportunities that envelope us and the effect our behaviors have on others.  We become bogged down and derailed by our emotions in a state of not uncertainty and not knowing.

So, what makes you tick? What do you value most...least? What repels you...what calls you forth?  What are your strengths and weaknesses, dreams and priorities. This is exciting and challenging work. Once you become aware of how you think, what you believe in and why you act the ways that you do, you begin to accept yourself--your strengths and limitations. You can then seek forms of self-expression that feel like they suit you. You begin acting like yourself (now that you know who that is) and not like everyone else or someone you think others want you to be. In this place and state, you find what makes your heart sing. 

Start by asking yourself:

  1. What in my life brings me the most joy and fulfillment?
  2. What in my life brings me the most anxiety and frustration?
  3. What do I most value in life?  In work?
  4. How do I feel at work? How do I long to feel at work?
  5. When do I feel most fully and gladly engaged?
  6. What one failure from my past haunts me the most?