“Our society is founded on a very limited definition of power, namely wealth, professional success, fame, physical strength, military might and political control,” writes Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh in his book, The Art of Power.
“My dear friends,” he continues, “I suggest that there is another kind of power, a greater power: the power to be happy right in the present moment, free from addiction, fear, despair, discrimination, anger, and ignorance. This power is the birthright of every human being whether celebrated or unknown, rich or poor, strong or weak.”
This power doesn’t come from things you do, or the car you drive, or the house you live in, or even the health and good looks of your physical body. It comes from living in alignment with your purpose. It comes from an inner sense of fulfillment and knowing that what you’re doing is important to YOU.
Yet in the busyness of life, we often lose sight of what fulfills us. We often find ourselves toiling away in a role or a job or an identity that doesn’t feel right, and when we live out of alignment, we feel more stressed, more anxious and more fearful.
If you want to step into a place of feeling fulfilled in what you do, and you want to live with purpose, it starts with looking for a SIGN.
Use the SIGN Acronym
The SIGN acronym is useful as a tool to return to whenever you find yourself being distracted by the busyness of the world. It can keep you oriented toward tasks and actions that truly plug into your identity.
The “S” in SIGN stands for SUCCESS. Ask yourself: “When I’m in the midst of doing this activity or task, do I feel like I’m in control? Do I feel like I’m being effective? Do I feel like I have power over this situation?”
The “I” in SIGN stands for INSTINCT. When you’re doing this action, you’re excited. You literally can’t wait to do it. You look forward to getting started.
The “G” in the acronym stands for GROWTH. This action should make you feel focused, curious and like you’re learning. Time flies by. You forget how much time you’ve spent doing this task.
The final letter in the acronym stands for NEEDS. When you’re finished doing this activity, you might feel tired, but you don’t feel burned out or fatigued or overwhelmed. Instead, you feel fulfilled and satisfied, even if you’re tired.
Following Your SIGN
Starting today, every task or action that you do should be evaluated according to the SIGN acronym. It might be helpful to at first simply listen to your inner signs and watch the types of emotions that arise within you throughout the day.
What are the things that leave you feeling bored, or strained, or drained? And what are the things that leave you with a sensation of confidence and strength?
As you get used to watching for these little clues, you can then begin to take inventory of major areas in your life that need a shift in order for you to feel a constant sense of fulfillment, satisfaction and purpose.
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