What legacy do you want to leave when you look back, at the end of your life? Want to make a difference, know your life mattered? Want to be remembered because you made the world a little bit better?
I believe we all do want to know our life and its influence does matter. Then why is there so much confusion as to how to create certainty about this for ourselves? Perhaps finding some clarity in 4 key areas could help.
Every one of us have our own unique, blueprint of a life that fulfills the purpose for which we were created. This blueprint was designed even before we were in our mother’s womb. Each of our jobs is to find clarity as to exactly what that purpose looks like. Have you struggled trying to determine what that purpose of yours is? Meditation each morning, while your mind has not become distracted by the world is a great way to begin. Within each of us lies so many seeds of desire, yearning to be planted, fed, and harvested. The Latin meaning of desire is, to birth. Pay attention to the desires that emerge as being a part of your purpose, yearning to be expressed in your life.
So many, in fact most of our deepest desires are based on actions we have never taken, ways we have not lived before. All new ways to walk, things to try, are scary, would you not agree? The biggest deterrent of walking down the path of your purpose if FEAR. Fear of failing, fear of rejection, fear of basically looking dumb. To overcome fear, courage is required. This means looking fear square in the eyes and pushing through even though you may fail and knowing that by not quitting will eventually get on the other side. This place is where transformation and huge personal growth happens. You are not the same…instead, better than you were before.
This word has powerful meaning. I truly believe, this is why we are on this earth, to produce significant lives for ourselves. Significant means what you do matters to others and to the world. This is where the concept of ripples in the water of life comes in. To me, ripples symbolizes the kind of influence we have in the world, every single day. We ALL have influence, the minute we wake up until the moment we lie our head on the pillow at night. However, our influence can be either positive or negative. Both Hitler and Christ had influence. See the difference. Part of living a life of significance is one that is a life fulfilling your purpose by building your muscle of courage. Why does all of this matter? That leads to my last part.
I believe the reason we are born is so we create, teach, impact, model…whatever it is for you, a life that leaves ripples that carry on long after each of us are gone. All people’s lives are living examples when filled with character and good choices, as hard as they may be, and the way they have handled failure, conflict, sadness, injustice, success…every component of life. All of these will be a part of the legacy imparted on future generations. How will you look back on this very chapter of your life? Will it be written in a way that leaves important ripples? Every single person you touch on a daily basis is affected by who you are, the example your life shines in the world.
I have only dipped our toes into these thoughts about ripples in the water of life. What will you do with these thoughts? THAT is your choice.
I let my joy get sucked away—then I saw despair in my child’s eyes.
By Rachel Macy Stafford
In an especially chaotic rush out the door to go on a family vacation, I sat in the passenger seat fuming. Mad because I didn’t have time to put the dishes in the dishwasher. Mad because we were late getting on the road. Mad because the garage door was acting up. I’m talking trivial, insignificant, minor inconveniences here, but that was the state of a distracted woman who could no longer see the blessings, only the inconveniences, of her life.
Before we were about to pull out of the driveway, my husband looked at me as if someone he loved very much had died. In a barely audible whisper he said, “You’re never happy anymore.”
I wanted to defend.
I wanted to excuse.
I wanted to deny.
But I couldn’t.
Because I knew he was right.
Where had that happy woman gone? The one who smiled at people she passed on the street just because. The one whose friends often spoke of her positive outlook on life. The one who felt happy simply because she heard her favorite song or had a pack of strawberry Twizzlers in her purse. The one who could laugh off mistakes because mistakes happen, and they are certainly not the end of the world.
Where had she gone?
And that’s when I glanced to the backseat to see if my children, then ages six and three, had heard my husband’s words. Staring back at me was my older daughter picking her lip with worry the size of a small boulder weighing down her small shoulders.
As she pinched that tiny piece of fragile skin on her upper lip with wide eyes, I could practically read her mind:
But there was more. I could practically hear how a young child would interpret her mother’s unhappiness.
Mom’s mad at me.
Mom’s tired because of me.
Mom’s stressed because of something I did.
That’s when an even more powerful question hit me.
Where had my happy little girl gone? The one who woke up with the most gorgeous bedhead and good morning smile. The one who beamed at the words “sprinkler,” “cotton candy,” and “pet store.” The one who laughed so hard tears came to her eyes. The one who licked beaters with sheer pleasure and danced happily to any song with a beat.
Where had she gone?
Because my happiness was based on external measures—on tasks being completed, plans running accordingly, goals being met, hairs being in place—I was continually disappointed … upset … impatient … and stressed. In the process of making my own life miserable, I’d funneled my unhappiness straight into my daughter’s once joyful heart and spirit. Her pain was a direct reflection of the expression I wore on my face.
I desperately wanted to bring a smile back to my daughter’s face. I knew I must bring it back to my own. I began praying for small steps I could take to become a more positive, present, and peace-filled person. On brightly colored sticky notes, I posted daily goals and positive mantras that came to me during morning prayer time. Especially prominent on my mirrors and cabinets were these two go-to phrases: “Only Love Today” and “See Flowers Not Weeds.”
I used the phrase Only Love Today to silence my inner bully. Whenever a critical thought would come to my mind or my mouth, I’d cut it off with Only Love Today. I used See Flowers Not Weeds as a pathway to gratitude, to see what was good in situations and people.
As Only Love Today and See Flowers Not Weeds became a daily practice, I felt a profound transformation occurring in my heart and home. No longer were my goals exclusively items that could be measured or checked off—they consisted of immeasurable items like listening, laughing, dreaming, playing, connecting, and loving. With a more meaningful daily goal, I was able to see the blessings in my imperfect self and in my imperfect life. My eager-to-please, helpful older child looked different too. I saw her for who she was, not an annoyance or a bother, but a loving child with clever thoughts and ideas. For once, I could see all the things she was capable of doing—not perfectly, but good enough for today. The tightness in my face relaxed and the smiles came more easily for both of us.
One morning, I looked out the kitchen window to see her making a little garden right there in the middle of the yard. I watched as she tended to her miniature plot. Her joyful smile made me take pause. Clearly, she was at peace tending to her garden. I took a picture and sent it to my parents. Nothing could have prepared me for the response I received. My parents wrote:
“Thank for this precious picture of our beautiful granddaughter. Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous change in her. We no longer see a scared look in her eyes; she is less fearful about you being upset or impatient with her. She is much happier and more relaxed. She is thriving and growing into a content, creative, and nurturing person. We know for a fact the changes we see in her coincide with the changes we have also seen in you.”
I covered my mouth to muffle the sobs.
When I was struggling to breathe beneath the weight of perfection, distraction, and self-induced pressure, my child was too.
My daughter had absorbed my tension.
She had absorbed my frustration.
She had absorbed my anxiety.
She had absorbed my unhappiness.
And as my negative emotions were being filtered down to her, they impacted her ability to grow, thrive, and blossom.
If I didn’t know it before, I know it now:
Our children are our garden. They absorb our stress, just as they absorb our peace. They absorb our negativity just as they absorb our joy. And we have the power to control what they absorb, but first, we must tend to ourselves.
It might sound like this:
Dear one, you have feelings. They are worth listening to and acknowledging.
You have limits. They are necessary to keep in place as a means of valuing your time and honoring your health.
You have dreams. You are worthy of time to pursue what makes your heart come alive.
You have needs. You deserve affection, rest, sustenance, and grace.
Perhaps you forgot that it is necessary to look after YOU. It’s okay. I forget too. But we still have today. Thank God, we still have today.
Today let’s tend to ourselves as we do our loved ones. Perhaps we can make it a habit. We’ll never know how much we can grow and flourish until we take time to tend to what is most precious.
This is a small sample of what you will find in Rachel Macy Stafford’s latest bestseller,Only Love Today. Rachel is the New York Times bestselling author of Hands FreeMama and Hands Free Life, as well as a certified special education teacher andinspiring speaker. Millions find solace and direction in her weekly blog postsat handsfreemama.com and supportive Facebook community, The Hands FreeRevolution. Rachel’s latest work of heart, ONLY LOVE TODAY, is soulful, bite–sizeencouragement for busy individuals yearning to anchor themselves in love despiteeveryday distractions, pressures, and discord. “Only Love Today” began as a mantrato overcome her inner bully, but it is now the practice of Rachel Macy Stafford’s life. It can be a practice for all of us with Only Love Today. This National bestseller is available at Target, Barnes & Noble, LifeWay, and Amazon.
In his book, “Think and Grow Rich,” he talked about something called a “mastermind alliance.” He goes on to describe a mastermind group as, “A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.”
In his book, “Master Key to Riches,” Napoleon Hill says, “Every mind needs friendly contact with other minds, for food of expansion and growth.” To Hill mastermind groups are established to help create an environment that nurtures and supports growth.
Notice how he uses the word “friendly” throughout his discussion of mastermind groups? Hill believed that a harmonious groups of two or more people who come together for a specific purpose, or around a specific topic, bring forth the power of creativity and support that you can’t find when you go it alone. Napoleon Hill feels so strongly about this that he says in Your Magic Power to be Rich, “Maintain perfect harmony between yourself and every member of your master mind group. If you fail to carry out this instruction to the letter, you may expect to meet with failure. The master mind principle cannot obtain where perfect harmony does not prevail.” That’s a strong message about what makes a mastermind group succeed or fail.
In Hill’s book, “The Law of Success,” he adds another element to the idea of a mastermind group: the group helps to organize useful knowledge, creating a virtual encyclopedia from which each member can draw information.
When starting a mastermind group, or joining an existing one, look for these three hallmarks: friendly, growth-oriented, and willing to share information.