How do you know when you're living at your highest potential? When do you know you're at your best? It's these questions that keep me on mindful toes. We shouldn't aim to place such high expectations on ourselves to be perfect because... drumroll... we are human. The beauty about us is that we are imperfect, and darn good at it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be the best version of ourselves. When I began focusing on what was going on within me and around me, I was more able to notice what was good and what just wasn't working for me. That allowed me to make changes. Here are four signs that can tell you whether or not you are living at your best:
You are surrounded by people who fill you up, not people who drain you out.
One of the first signs you are living at your best can often be seen in who you are around. The old adage "birds of a feather flock together" rings true. I can reflect on my own experiences to validate this. During times of my life where I didn't feel as confident, didn't have much direction, or was afraid to commit to certain values or decisions, I surrounded myself with people who were very much the same (unstable, uncertain, carefree... to a fault). This often led to feeling taken advantage of, having looser boundaries or values, and feeling tired, anxious, and stretched thin.
When I am at my best, I am around people who see the best in me. I'm not spending time with people who need me to survive, and I don't feel like I need them to survive. I am able to co-exist and not enmesh myself with anyone else. I can be a fellow human (wife, daughter, sister, friend) to someone and not for someone (there's a huge difference in those two things... more on that in a future post). Honestly, it feels pretty peaceful.
The anxiety is low.
How do you feel when your anxiety is at bay? We all have anxiety, therefore we are all capable of managing it. I know that, for me, I feel more aligned, at peace, and less concerned about the "what ifs." I don't "should" all over myself. When I am at my best, I am able to acknowledge my stressors, but not let them define me. I can stand tall and take what life gives me -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I recognize that my struggles are opportunities to grow. When the anxiety is low, I am no longer living based out of fear, but out of an understanding of what I can and cannot control. When I am in that place of understanding in myself, I am most definitely more able to live at my best.
What you do gives you joy.
Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Research has pointed toward the idea that happiness is not an end emotion, but a byproduct of living. When I reflect on times in my life when I felt joy or happiness, I reconnect with that feeling as a sensation or experience and less of an achievement or tangible result. Sometimes, thinking about the string of happy moments across my lifetime brings me joy. It is a wonderful experience to feel joy in what you do. As a marriage and family therapist, I work with people willing to get vulnerable and dig into feelings of pain, intense emotional experiences, and healing. I feel humbled and even joyful when I reflect on the honor it is to work with clients who are willing to dig deep. I truly love what I have been called to do.
Sometimes, I have to mindfully permit myself to experience joy. By that, I mean that I make a true effort to say (or think) affirmative statements such as:
"I will experience joy today,"
"I will let myself feel the joy of this experience,"
"May I let myself feel joy today,"
"A time I felt joy today was ____," etc.
Sometimes it is our own self that is the barrier to experiencing joy and living in the moment. I definitely do not let myself experience joy every day in every moment (human, after all). But the moments when I do far surpass all the rest!
You believe in yourself.
Believing in yourself is one of the most balancing feelings in the world. When you have trust with yourself and are accountable to your own values and no one else's, this is living Zen. When I believe in myself, there is a sense of ability, desire, confidence, peace, and momentum. It is encouraging. It is amazing.
When was a time you felt you were living at your best? I hope you will share.
HuffPost's GPS for the Soul app is based on two truths about human beings. First: We all have a centered place of wisdom, harmony and balance within us. Second: We're all going to veer away from that place, again and again and again. What we need is a great course-correcting mechanism -- a GPS for the Soul -- to help us find our way back to that centered place, from which everything is possible.
Because no one knows better than you what helps you de-stress and tap into that place of peace inside yourself, it's important for you to create your very own GPS guide -- a personalized collection of whatever helps you course-correct. Email us at GPS@huffingtonpost.com and we'll set you up with your very own HuffPost blogger account to share your guide on the site. If you're already a blogger, we encourage you to upload your personal guide today. We can't wait to see what you have to share.