When I first moved to Los Angeles from Hawaii for college at eighteen, a friend of my aunt an uncle told me at a dinner party, “L.A. is a great place to live, but you need to make sure that you feed your soul.” I eagerly nodded in agreement. I had no idea what she meant, or what not understanding her advice would mean.
I grew up in a place, the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, where feeding your soul was a part of every day life. It wasn’t something that you thought about, it was a given. Feeding your soul could look like a morning surf, a beach run, watching the sunset, going for a bike ride, catching up with a friend, taking the time to say hello. Really, anything that brought you joy and made you feel connected and alive was game.
A year into college at the University of Southern California, I was miserable. I looked around at where I was and wondered how I’d gotten there–living in the ghetto in a sorority house with little in common with most of the people I interacted with daily. I wasn’t clear on what I wanted out of life, what made me happy, who I was striving to be. I was lost.
It took me a few years to get “unlost,” to find my footing again. I found myself in Austin, Texas, where I finished college, started my career working at a magazine, dated my first true love (who is now my husband) and thrived on independence. I was feeding my soul again with love, work I felt was meaningful, taking care of my body, exercising my mind, and the promise of a bright future.
And that bright future brought me back to L.A., where once again I found myself unbalanced and lost. My first inclination was to blame it on the city and make a rash move to somewhere else, anywhere else. But upon deeper inquiry, I realized that it’s not this city, it’s me–me with my priorities all wrong, me without a purpose, me not feeding my soul.
After much reflection, it comes down to this: Feeding my soul requires me doing something professionally that allows me to live my values and use my true strengths every single day. It requires finding ways to feel strong in my body and mind. It requires taking the time to just be and not do. It requires that I make an effort to feel connected. And it requires that I let go of the concept of “powering through.”
And mostly, it requires that I use the mirror of the Universe to reflect on a daily basis how I’m doing. Because life is too short to have a crisis of purpose, of the soul, every ten years. It takes too many days to get to the low point where you decide something has to change, and to then get back out.
So my wish for you is that feeding your soul will be a non-negotiable part of every single day. Your happiness depends on it.
What your soul needs will vary from person to person. For me it requires: reading, doing yoga, going for a run, writing, adventures (both big and small), creative projects like Be Wild | Be Well and spending quality time with the people I love.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some questions to ask to help you figure out how your soul needs to be fed:
- What activities bring you joy?
- What activities make you feel connected to the world?
- What is one activity that you wish you could do every day simply because you want to and not because you think you should?
- What is one of your personal goals? And what activities will help you achieve that goal?
- What makes you feel calm and at peace?
- What makes you feel alive?
- How do you want your life to feel? What activities make you feel that way?
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