A few years ago, a good friend of mine Mark McCartney started a really interesting project called “What is a good life?”. Over the course of 3 months, Mark interviewed over 100 people from all walks of life around this one question. I was one of the people Mark chatted with and I remember having a cracking conversation with him for an hour or so on this. Mark has since started to share insights and observations of this project, through his excellent newsletter and more recently a new podcast – www.whatisagood.life.
A few days before I had my chat with Mark, I was consciously considering my take on his question. The answer that I arrived at was that for me, a good life is simply one where my soul is in the driving seat of my journey through life. I figured if I can do this, then life will be pretty good. It doesn’t mean I’ll avoid challenging times but at least for the most part, those challenges will be ones I am happy to take on. So I’m making decisions about what I want to do, how I show up in my life and the experiences I want to create, based on the essence of who I am. Not based on what others expect of me, or based on who I think I should be but rather making choices based on who I really am at my core. This is what I believe the soul to be. It’s the essence of who you are as a human being – who you are at an energetic level. The true spirit or soul of a person is what’s left when you take away any titles or functions they hold in life. In my case things like a husband, a dad, a coach, a writer etc When you peel away any labels, you get to the essence of what somebody is about. You arrive at their soul, their energy, their unique spark, their quirks, the traits that possibly only those closest to them regularly see. I believe adventure, curiosity, wild, caring, playfulness, warrior like, openness, a desire to make a difference, are all a core part of my own soul.
Living in alignment with your soul (ie having it in the driving seat of your life journey) is not binary. It’s not like you either are doing it or you’re not. Like many things in life, it’s more a continuum than something that is binary. There will often be degrees to which we are living in alignment with our souls. So, how could you nourish and bring more of your soul to life?
Here’s a personal example of what I mean. Two years ago, I decided I wanted to bring more of my love of nature and adventure into my work. For me, this was a way to bring more of my soul to life. The manifestation of this resulted in two things. The first was doing more of my one to one coaching sessions on hikes in nature with clients. Some of the best breakthrough moments clients have had with me, have happened in the great outdoors. Secondly I began bringing clients on overnight wild camping experiences which was all about taking time out to reflect, reset and redirect in whatever area of life was most important for them. This has since progressed to more immersive nature experiences I now do with teams and individuals as part of how I coach.
Putting more of your soul in the driving seat of your life does not need to involve massive life change. It can be infinitely more subtle and equally as impactful. Perhaps it’s getting back into a hobby you once had that fills your soul. By doing this, you may find you’re more present, at ease and more tolerant of challenging situations because you are nourishing yourself at a deeper level with your hobby. Or, it might simply be making time to see family and friends a bit more than what you have been doing. Putting your soul in charge might involve a shift in how you lead your team at work and how you show up into dealings you have with colleagues and clients. Small changes repeated over time yield huge results so please don’t underestimate the power and impact of bringing a little more of your soul to life.
So how could you meaningfully and tangibly put more of your soul in the driving seat? Here’s three simple ways to consider:
1 – Step Back
Take a leaf out of Mícheál Ó Súilleabhán’s poetry book called “Early Music”. My wife Colette recently shared a poem with me from this book. The poem is called Turas d’Anam, which means journey of the soul. The following lines really resonated with me – “Often times the step backward lets the soul catch up……so feel the rhythm beyond the beat. Begin with a break and let your soul catch up.”
There is real wisdom in this for me. At times, we can be moving fast through life, going from deadline to deadline, from obligation to obligation without necessarily pausing to think, question or recalibrate. So taking a break (for me often in nature) is a great way to pause, step back and allow the soul to catch up. To allow the soul to speak up again so that it can move from the passenger seat into the driving seat of our lives. The full reading of this beautiful poem by Mícheál Ó Súilleabhán can be seen here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dp9Ikib26Q
2 – Step In
Step into the experience of living more in alignment with your soul. Consider these 3 simple questions:
- Complete this sentence to try to describe your soul – I am….
(don’t use any titles you hold, any roles you play in life or any qualifications you have – simply try to use words that speak to the essence of who you are as a human being)
- If I was living in greater alignment in my soul, what would I change?
- In order to move towards this change, what might I need to let go of?
3 -Step Forward
Step forward with a more consistent cadence of making time for you and your soul to breath and live. Colette’s Uncle Sonny put it best when he shared his mantra with us a few years ago on how he approaches making time for his own spirituality in his life – “an hour a day, a day a month, a week a year”. Again, there is beautiful wisdom in this and I love the idea of simply being intentional about creating space in life for what matters. Whatever this looks like for you, consider stepping into creating more consistent time for your soul to flourish so that you are living the way YOU want and are on the journey in life that YOU truly desire. Ultimately give yourself permission to put your soul into the driving seat of your life…