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Designed to Thrive
By Molly Gordon
I love my life.
I haven't always. For many years, I supposed that happy times and sad
would cycle inexorably, the product of the varying strength of my
imperfect convictions and the fickle finger of fate. Sometimes I was
good, sometimes I was bad. Sometimes life was good, sometimes bad.
Sometimes the relationship between how I behaved and the quality of my
life seemed obvious, sometimes so elusive it defied my attempts at
One thing that never occurred to me as I tried repeatedly to make sense
of my life was that I was designed to thrive. I did not imagine that my
heart's desires might be a reliable means of discerning the right path.
So thoroughly was I convinced that the stirrings of my heart were at
best incidental and at worst irrelevant to my life's purpose that I not
only tended to neglect them, but also frequently moved in the opposite
direction. (This was in spite of that fact that the few times my heart
took over, as when I met my husband, resulted in abundant joy and
Interestingly, while I rejected my heart's interior compass, I was
inclined to be a black or white thinker. Perhaps it was that very lack
of a sense of reliable interior direction that caused me to cling so
fiercely to my black or white thinking.
Fortunately, the blessings in my life have been so many and so sweet
that even I could not forever cling to my deprivation mentality.
Gradually I learned that I was a nicer person, and that the world was
nicer to me, when I acted in congruence with my heart. As I allowed more
joy into my life, I found I was more resilient when I met sorrow. I
stopped pretending that I was doomed to frustration and I learned that I
was designed to thrive.
If I am designed to thrive, then I have an obligation to do so. My
life's purpose is to tend discernment is a way of listening to my heart,
taking care to hear the truth about what moves me forward or holds me
back, and of getting past the distractions of fear and attachment.
As has often been true for me, I learn by teaching, and as a coach I
have plenty of opportunities to support my clients in the process of
discerning which course to take. It is a creative process insofar as it
taps into intuition and inspiration. It is a spiritual process insofar
as it taps into trust and surrender. It is a discipline insofar as it
requires patience, rigorous honesty, and thoroughness. While the context
and outcome from each discernment process varies, what remains constant
is the remarkable focus, peace and stamina that discernment brings to
those who practice it. Through discernment we create for ourselves a
clarity that empowers us to move forward with both certainty and humility.
One of my favorite discernment tools was developed by Scot MacLise.
Whether preparing for a job interview or for a board meeting, Scot asks:
Is this an appropriate place to show up?
o Do I feel fear? Can I identify the fear?
o How can I support walking through the fear? Is this an appropriate way to show up?
o Am I showing up as my higher/better self?
o What are the key points to make?
o Is this who I intend to be?
o Am I meeting people where they are, not where I expect them to be?
o Does this accurately reflect my current bigger game?
The word "discernment" has a special meaning in the Christian tradition,
where it refers to a process called the examen (exAYmen), developed by
St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. The examen is a daily
practice of asking two questions, each of which may be phrased in a
variety of ways.
o When today did I feel the most gratitude/joy/energy? When was I most
able to give and receive love? When did I feel closest to God?
o When today did I feel the most ungrateful/unhappy/depleted? When was I
least able to give and receive love? When did I feel furthest from God?
It is important to practice the examen in a context of safety and loving
compassion, imagining ourselves in the presence of a benevolent and
nurturing Spirit. As we pose each question, we ask Spirit to bring to
mind that moment in which we felt the greatest consolation or
desolation, connection or alienation. Whatever comes to mind, we hold
that moment gently, sharing it with Spirit without judgment. If you
would like to learn more about the examen, read Sleeping with Bread:
Holding What Gives You Life, by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and
Matthew Linn, published by Paulist Press.
Molly Gordon is an artist, writer, and Professional Personal Coach. She
works to bridge the gap between meaning and prosperity through her free
teleclasses and online workshops as well as in one on one and small
group coaching. Visit Molly's website for more information at
www.coachladybug.com or phone her at 206-842-1619.
(c) Molly Gordon 1999. All rights reserved.
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Molly Gordon, Professional Personal Coach
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206-842-1619 fax: 206-780-3357
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Tags: Wisdom and Life Skills