Finding our “why” simply gives us direction. It keeps us on track, and allows us to align our actions with our intended outcomes. Your why could be your ultimate job, but it might not. Your career might simply provide you the financial stability to pursue and embody your why, totally separate from how you make your money. I recently recorded a Yoga Wake up session Your Why - Finding Your Purpose as a way for you to start that mental wellness journey.
Think of it this way: we make goals for ourselves physically, i.e., run a marathon. You start with running a few miles, to adding on enough to be 26.2 ready. This has never been a goal of mine nor will it ever, but enjoy if it’s been yours! You also might decide a 10k is just fine, and you let the marathon fall off. No shame in that! You started the physical conversation and you got some answers.
The same should be true for our mental wellness. If we can identify where we want to be, we can start to move the needle in that direction.
If you were trying to run a marathon, in your heart you know it will take months to get there. One 5-mile run won’t mean you’re ready. You have to actually take some actionable steps, check in periodically on the target, find out more information and see if it’s changed. Sometimes the goal you thought you wanted shifts and changes or the means you were using to get there are no longer working so you have to try something else. We have to do the same with our mental health, here, specifically uncovering your why, allowing for multiple conversations and adjustments until we finally hone it and it keeps us on track.
My personal why is to help people find happiness.
When people talk about the meaning of life, I believe it to be as simple as being filled with happiness and enabling others to feel it as well. This might sound childlike to you, but it is the most rewarding part of my life, the thing that makes me feel alive and the clear common denominator in all the things I have done in my life that have been rewarding. Mind you, refining happiness is not for the weak! It’s not as easy as playing with puppies, though that definitely doesn’t hurt. You have to be willing to be acutely uncomfortable at times, to possibly let go of people, jobs, possessions, personal hang-ups, comparison, ego and self-doubt. It requires work! I aim to be an agent of that work.
I had a baby two years ago. For roughly a year preceding conception, I was focused on getting pregnant. Once successful, the next step was to focus on carrying a healthy baby. All the while, I was training my clients, teaching my classes, contributing to the yoga and fitness community as I could in a number of ways. Then this little human came out of my belly. Whoa. Now I focused on the care of this little miracle. For the better part of two years, he was my focus even though I went back to working 3.5 months after he was born, much of the time feeling very torn between the job I love and this new baby I am obsessed with. So follow me here, for nearly 4 years, creating and caring for a life was the biggest part of my life.
Shortly before he turned 2, I felt like I was poking my head back up into the world and looking around, emerging from a parenting coma. Wait, Mom jeans really stuck around? Ugh. Oh, and what am I doing with my life? I am in the middle of the most important thing I have ever done. Is this my life’s purpose? To be a mother? (Who refuses to wear mom jeans.)
I never envisioned I would feel so strongly about parenting as I actually do. I never expected this to be so rewarding. Is this my new purpose? I asked myself the questions, I meditated on it. I knew in that moment that nothing will ever feel this good again, but I also knew that being a mother is not, as a stand alone, my life’s purpose.
I will bring joy into this little person’s life and he gives it back threefold. That’s the meaning of life for me. Right? Right. But as he needs me less, it’s time for me to travel my path again. And I’m happy to say, I believe my why has stayed the test of time and change.
Whether you’ve had a recent life changing event, you are already coasting along happily, or you feel you are stifled, I encourage you to play along with me and listen to my Yoga Wake Up session Your WHY: Finding Your Purpose. I make no claim that you will have an epiphany by the end. It might take some time, some self-analysis or maybe some truth serum. But the first steps are the only way to start your mental marathon.
Maeve McCaffrey is a top tier private trainer, master trainer and group yoga/fitness instructor and yoga teacher trainer for prestigious organizations including the Sports Club/LA, YogaWorks and Equinox. She has 6 unique Yoga Wake Up sessions on the app and has been teaching with us since 2017. You can find her on the app or on Instagram.