“Musicians must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write if he’s to be ultimately at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.” ~ Abraham Maslow
February is often thought of as the month of love. For some people this refers to romantic love, and for others, it might refer to love for a friend or relative. It can also be about the love — or lust — for life and living life to its fullest, which means listening to the messages of your heart and going in the direction of what brings you the most joy.
Many people experience unhappiness at different times, and often they’re unsure of what to do to change or transform their situations. They may feel that they want something more out of life, but they don’t know what that something is. In essence, we all want to be happy and make some sort of impact on the world, and the places where we want to do so are usually those areas we feel passionate about, and which are connected to our life’s purpose.
Most often your life purpose is already present within you — it’s just a matter of finding it. First, you need to know yourself, what has shaped your past, and what inspires you to move forward. These are all pieces of information offering tools for self-awareness. This knowledge can be very empowering and a means to fostering a lust for life.
Journaling to Learn Your Life’s Passion
One way to figure out your passion and your reason for living is to begin a regular journaling practice. A good place to start is to write about what you’re grateful for and all the positive aspects of your life. This is also an excellent way to learn about the messages of your heart and to tap into your subconscious mind.
Sometimes people begin journaling during challenging times. My own writing journey began when I was ten and my mother gave me a Kahlil Gibran journal to help me cope with the loss of my grandmother. Although I began writing from a place of pain, I realized that during the creative process, I was tapping into some profound inner truths. This helped me heal and find my life purpose, which involves teaching others how to transform their lives through the written word.
Humanist Psychologists and Life Purpose
Humanist psychology, the newest branch of psychology that was born in the 1960s, highlights the importance of everyone living their true potential, which is also known as self-actualization. Psychologists Abraham Maslow and Rollo May were instrumental in launching this branch of psychology, and their influence remains significant today. In fact, May was influential in inspiring my own ongoing journaling process back in the 1960s. When I turned 18, my family doctor gave me a copy of May’s Love and Will, which informed a great deal of my adolescence, taught me self-awareness, and gave me myriad ideas to journal about, even though when I initially read the book, I didn’t really understand much of what the author was saying.
I shelved the book but knew that I would return to it at a later date, and when I fell in love in my early twenties, I dusted it off and began to read. May reminded me of the importance of love in my life, how to differentiate love from sex, and also to see where the two intersect.
Many years later when I became a published writer, I became enamored with May’s book The Courage to Create, which tapped into the idea of listening to the messages of the heart and mind when it comes to being creative, and having the courage to listen to those messages. In doing so, we break old patterns and release long-standing fears on the road to living a meaningful life.
The Importance of Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is key for anyone who yearns to foster a lust for life. Knowing oneself requires a deep sense of inner knowing. Writing is an ideal way to increase our sense of self-awareness, as it helps us see ourselves and the world around us in a nonjudgmental, clear, and honest way. Being self-aware helps facilitate writing for healing and transformation and also stimulates the mind-body connection, which offers an opportunity for positive change, and ultimately, happiness.
There are many ways to foster self-awareness, so you need to find what works best for you, but writing is a good way to start because it serves as a container to express and hold feelings, emotions, and experiences. It’s also a way to begin a dialogue with yourself. Dialoguing, whether verbal or written, is very healing — emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Identifying Moments of Being
In addition to knowing and appreciating all the positive aspects in your life, it’s wise to identify what writer Virginia Woolf calls “moments of being,” or moments that help define us. These moments could be simple things like remembering the shoes your mother wore or how your father played with you in the backyard. It could be the day your little brother or sister came home from the hospital as a newborn, or the time your family adopted a pet for the first time. These are moments when an individual experiences a sense of stark reality, which can result from a shock of some sort or a discovery or revelation. These are transformative moments. And sometimes, the moments that impact us most are those we don’t even fully understand at the time they’re occurring.
Writing prompt: Make a list of ten or more moments in your life that were pivotal and transformative. The memories that come to your mind can serve to inspire you in many ways and foster a lust for the rest of your life.
Maslow, A. (2014). Toward a Psychology of Being. New York, NY: Sublime Books.
May, R. (2011). Love and Will. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
May, R. (2009). Man’s Search for Self. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
May, R. (1994). The Courage to Create. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.