Have you buried yourself in hard work trying to climb the corporate ladder? Have you been working so hard lately that you go home to self-soothe with ice cream and television, waiting for the weekend to finally come and save you? Do others perceive you as being happy on the outside? Do you look amazing on paper, but feel hollowness underneath all that success? If you answered yes to any of these questions, perhaps you secretly feel alone and are trying to find “happiness” through working harder and check-marking all of the traditional boxes of success. Is this “look good on paper” life really meaningful to you, though? Does it make you happy or are you trying to fill an empty void?
It’s easy to find other outlets to fill voids in ourselves, but who wants to live like that forever? Why not live a life that’s purpose-driven and filled with joy? It is possible. Living a wholehearted purpose-filled life takes inner work and acceptance of who you really are and identifying what really makes you happy. Let’s uncover what living wholeheartedly means:
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1. Embrace all emotions
Oh yes, the good and the bad emotions- embrace them. Take a deep dive into your feelings to figure out the patterns in your life. It’s identifying and acknowledging where there’s an imbalance. Make a personal checklist and ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I avoiding emotions by eating too much?
- Am I spending more money shopping for things I don’t need?
- Am I having more wine nights, nights out, or drinking too much?
- Am I binge-watching TV?
- Am I trying to be there for everyone else around me?
Do you see where the spiral is going? Let’s talk about these emotions and addictive outlets; People often withdraw and find addictions to numb harmful feelings with things like drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, shopping, or working too much. Could there be a version of you that everyone else sees and is what you present to the world- happy on the outside? However, you’re secretly struggling with a version of you that’s kept secret- a secret part of you that is struggling to find a deeper meaning to life, soul joy, and happiness.
Addictive behaviors can cause a disconnect from harmful feelings, like a “quick fix”, thinking, “oh, I’ll do better next time.” “I’ll eat better next time.” “It happened just this one time.” Actually, no. Quick fixes are like a drug that can easily turn into destructive habits. These habits can lead to emotional and physical health issues and addiction. When you binge eat, it can cause weight gain or eating disorders. Some destructive or addictive behavior can lead to drug use, debt, or divorce.
When the spiral starts to happen, there can also be a disconnect from the good emotions. When you numb the feelings you don’t want to feel such as worry, fear, painful heartbreak, or grief, it causes a split in emotions and also numbs the good emotions- happiness, joy, peace, and gratitude. This can result in a person feeling hollow, sad, lonely, and depressed.
It’s important to embrace and feel all emotions in a healthy manner, without finding a vice or quick fix to withdraw or self-medicate. All of these numbing habits can affect you if you’re not careful. They can affect your weight, credit cards, and your overall health. Being able to talk about and notice feelings with a trusted friend or therapist can bring comfort from worry, fears, and disappointment. It’s okay to have days where you feel down. It’s okay to feel vulnerable when feelings arise that you don’t know how to deal with. This experience is called living “wholeheartedly” and believing that your feelings are necessary to help you grow and heal.
2. Life with imperfection
You are imperfectly perfect and perfectly imperfect. You are perfect just as you are. When you live wholeheartedly, you change your perspective and start to feel a strong sense of love for yourself. You start to believe you are enough and you are worthy of love and acceptance. You don’t have to be a perfectionist. You don’t have to make everyone else feel loved and deny yourself. Be kind to yourself and embrace all of your emotions. Focus on healing the inside and working hard to feed your soul instead of focusing on climbing higher and higher up. The ladder will never be high enough until you fill the void and hollowness on the inside of you, with love. This empty void can only be satisfied when you fill it with love for yourself.
Know that mistakes happen and it’s okay to mess up sometimes. Learn from those mistakes and move forward with grace and forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Also know that suffering and failure are part of the human experience. It happens and we learn and grow from those experiences. Do not let your mind self-sabotage you. Change any harmful self-talk to words of positive affirmation. I repeat- love yourself just as you are.
3. Put yourself out there
If you don’t put yourself out there to express your feelings, how will you ever know what it feels like to experience them? Love with all you’ve got. Love with your heart- your whole heart, even if there are no promises of love in return. Love unconditionally. Share the love, your ideas, and what you believe in. Be there for someone else when they need someone to talk to. Truly listen, and empathize. Give freely and share your story- you may be surprised that it could ultimately help, heal, or save someone else. Be real, and empathize with others. It shows selflessness and kindness. Remember, what you give out in life, is what you get back.
4. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is giving thanks, and being thankful. Gratitude is tied to manifesting happiness and joy. Happiness is tied to circumstances while true joy comes from practicing gratitude. You can find joy in many things and in many moments of your daily life. Practicing gratitude is being thankful for those blessed moments. Counting your blessings for each day you’re alive and healthy. Being grateful for the people in your life- even the ones that hurt you. Because without them you wouldn’t be where you are today. A stronger version of you. Keep a gratitude journal or any method you prefer. Sending gratitude emails and mailing cards of gratitude can also give you a sense of happiness. It’s also greatly appreciated by the receiver way more than you can imagine.
Embrace all of your emotions. Accept that you don’t have to be perfect. Love yourself and all of the shortcomings. Live your life with no guarantees and practice gratitude in your daily life. You will grow into your purpose-filled, wholehearted, and more meaningful life, if you acknowledge that these emotions lead to growth. Practicing living wholeheartedly with purpose can lead you to a life with deeper meaning, connection, and joy. If you’re looking for more ways to live wholeheartedly, check out these gifts of imperfection to help start your journey.