Self-Actualization Is Happiness

Everyone has something that drives them towards a higher purpose – a calling. We all have motives and values for chasing dreams.

Sometimes people quit on their dreams, they settle for the safety of a good job, they stay in a toxic relationship for the kids (I did this myself for 6 years too long, yet I finally stepped out fearlessly and took back my freedom – William Wallace Braveheart style)

Sometimes the people closest to us in our lives become mountains standing between us and our soul’s purpose. We want and hope for a relationship that feels effortless, passionate, uplifting, loyal, and purpose driven (without the Titanic flashback scene and lost love on the bottom of the ocean)

We want a job that doesn’t feel like a job but ignites our purpose, is fulfilling and doesn’t feel like work at all. When we are fearless and driven for the soul’s purpose we become better fathers, better mothers, better significant others, and better in any role we fill. Why? Because this is how true happiness is realized. Happiness is inside our heart and mind…from the deepest part of our soul!

Serving in the military is the highest form of serving one can choose and yet so many never become leaders worth emulating long term.

In my thousands of Air Force classroom lectures, police training classes, and one-on-one sessions with my mentors and protégés over the years, one thing was always the common denominator when we faced career or personal setbacks.

We were not being true to their purpose. Our full potential was not being stoked! Abraham Maslow explained this in his hierarchy of needs as Self-Actualization

Dictionary.com defines self-actualization as

“The realization or fulfillment of one’s talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone.

When we feel stuck in careers and relationships it’s because our focus has been disrupted, our drive has been blocked by something.

That something is fear!

Through the years as a leader, leadership instructor and course developer for the Air Force I saw many people who had amazing potential yet something stopped them from the next career milestone, from having fulfilling relationships, something stopped them from chasing their dreams. Fear stopped them before they ever could get started. Why fear? Fear thrives in the mind and will cripple us if we allow it!

When you replace fear with fearlessness (take away the Ego’s power over you) you conquer many mountains to reach your full potential!

Fear can lead to crippling depression, anxiety and much more. Look fear in the eyes and choose a life of realizing your talents, your purpose!

The painter must paint if he is to become a master of his medium.

One of my favorite artists, Vincent Van Gogh painted many masterpieces yet as a man he never reached his self-actualization. He had crippling mental illness and died poor. He died poor in the spirit…his spirit was defeated by his life experiences yet now his paintings are called masterpieces.

His painting Starry Night has been a constant in my life journey of healing and becoming my true self. I stood before his painting starry night in 2001 shortly after graduating from the Air Force Basic Instructor School and I was only a few blocks away from the art school I planned on attending in 1998 after graduating high school. Instead my drive to serve and lead others and not become a “starving artist” led me to a beautiful and purposeful career as a leader and cop in the Air Force. This past weekend a friend from my early years and I reconnected after 22 years. Starry Night and living an authentic life of experiences for our kids and ourselves as individuals. I know I gained a new perspective on many things during our hours of talks on subjects ranging from life’s ups and downs to our personal dreams. We both faced some fears at different points in our lives the past 22 years and I pray the fear becomes fearlessness in his life purpose and endeavors. I know what it’s like to live with fear because I was afraid inside my home for almost 17 years. Yet because I had a solid foundation in the Air Force, an amazing group of mentors and peers who lifted me up from 0730-1630 each day for 10 years. I also knew my purpose and patiently worked towards honing my talents and achieving my dreams despite my circumstances in my home. I had a clear purpose and belief I was living my soul’s purpose as a mother and Air Force Leader.

What many may not know is that Vincent Van Gogh painted my favorite painting from an insane asylum. His mental health kept him from his full potential in my opinion and date I say he lived with fear holding him back. I believe Starry Night didn’t even scratch the surface of his God-given talent, yet it was always the painting that popped up at pivotal evolutions or mountains I was climbing in life. My friend who so reconnected with had big dreams from the first time I met him and My soul was thrilled to find out he achieved one of his main dreams so young!

Each day I meet people at different phases in their lives and so many have dreams of doing work worth something…work that fuels their passion and stimulates their minds. This type of work is not work at all, it’s our talents being used as they were meant to be used. Using my own talents as a teacher and leader in the Air Force (and still today) helped me survive and thrive through the most difficult mountains in my personal and professional life. I was often bruised and almost broken, yet my purpose and willpower to live my dreams always pushed me to know better, do better, and be better for those around me…those who depend upon me.

Leading yourself up the mountains in life to reach the summit (your destiny) is sometimes extreme. There are mudslides, fires and avalanches which try to take us down (homes taken away, jobs lost, marriages ending, finances in ruin, addictions, infidelity, and much more)

When this happens…

-Choose to know and love yourself first! This is the only way to grow outward.

-Believe to your subconscious all the universe IS working to bring you to the other side of the mountain stronger, gentler, happier and LOVED!

-Never quit

-There are friends and family who believe in you – let them in!

-There are people around you ready to align you with your purpose – allow them to propel you forward (six degrees of separation)

When you seek and take action for your true purpose not for selfish gains, but for yourself…

Then and only then will your work and home relationships flourish, you receive and achieve your dreams from the universe, but only if you lead yourself up those mountains fearlessly and honestly! LIVE who you are meant to be!

Then and only then will you gain lasting love, success and most of all happiness.

Love & Leadership,

Erin

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