We all long for more connection in our lives, but we often look outside ourselves for that connection.
If you are striving for a better sense of connection and need help getting to the root of who you are, it’s time to look within and engage in soul searching.
Soul searching is the idea of taking a step back, examining your life and yourself with the aim of replenishing the soul.
Most people will “soul search” when they’re going through a rut, or experiencing negative emotions that are difficult to deal with.
But really, soul searching should be exercised regularly. After all, it’s always important to examine where you’re finding meaning in life and where your life is headed.
With a little focus and determination to get to know yourself better, you’ll get to the heart of your life and live a more fulfilled and meaningful existence.
Here are 10 tips to nourish your soul and find deeper meaning in your life
1) Examine your immediate situation.
In order to get to the heart of your life and have a more connected experience with yourself, you need to view your life through a different lens than the one that you are currently using.
Examining your immediate situation helps you discover what’s going well and where there may be room for improvement.
The key to having a better connection with yourself, however, is not to strive to make your life better, it’s to accept and appreciate the life you have right now.
Through practicing gratitude for the things you have, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve already done and accomplished and find solace in what you have been able to create in your life thus far.
Often, a search for deeper meaning is found outside of ourselves, but that lacks luster and doesn’t last long.
When you connect with yourself in a way that pays homage to what you’ve done, you’ll have plenty of evidence to contradict any negative thoughts you might have about your life while you continue to change and grow.
One of the best ways to get started with a gratitude practice is to start journaling.
Give yourself 30 minutes and think back to the last couple of years of your life and remember 10-20 things you are particularly grateful for.
When you look deeply into your life, you’ll find plenty of things that you can be appreciated for. Here are a few examples to get you started:
1) Good health. 2) Money in the bank 3) Friends 4) Having access to the internet. 5) Your parents.
Keep in mind that this is something you may want to do even weekly.
A 2003 study compared participants who kept a weekly list of things they were grateful for to participants who kept a list of things that irritated them or neautral things.
After the study, gratitude-focused participants exhibited increased well-being. The researchers concluded that “a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.”
The fact of the matter is this:
If you want to get nourish your soul, it’s crucial to start appreciating what you have rather than desiring things what you don’t. You’ll be a happier and better person for it.
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” – Amy Collette
2) Pay attention to your family and friends.
In order to live life with heart, and get to the heart of your life, you need to examine the relationships you currently have.
This is not an exercise in pointing fingers at other people. Instead, it is about taking ownership of your relationships from your point of view and to do the best you can with the people who are in your life.
Forgive yourself for the times you can’t do everything, be everything to everyone, and may have even let people down in the past.
Living at the heart of your life means that you let go of what holds you back and while it may seem like other people are holding you back, the truth is that it is your thoughts about those people that hold you back.
In fact, a 80-year Harvard study found that our closest relationships have a significant impact on our overall happiness in life.
So if you want to nourish your soul, keep a watchful eye on who you spend most of your time with and make the necessary changes.
Remember this quote from Jim Rohn:
“You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
3) Calibrate your career trajectory.
Working toward getting to know yourself in a meaningful way cannot be done unless you examine the work you do in the world.
Whether you volunteer your time or you make money selling used clothing on the street, there is an important journey that needs to take place to ensure you are doing the work you are meant to do, and the work you want to do.
When you can align the work you want to do and the work you are meant to do, you find peace and harmony in your life.
While the goal of your happiness and tranquility shouldn’t be rooted in your work, there’s no denying that the work you do is important.
We derive a lot of meaning from the work we do, the places we work, the people we work with and the way in which you engage with others and the products we put in the world.
A New York Times story reported on why so many people hate their jobs. Their survey discovered that employees that find meaning in their work don’t just stick around at their organization longer but report higher job satisfication and more engagement at work.
And anyway, there is no doubt that work going to be an important part of your life!
If you are working toward letting go of how work makes you feel, pay attention to what you can learn throughout that experience instead of trying to derive the meaning for the actual work you do.
Not everyone has the opportunity to do work that makes them come alive, so practicing gratitude will help you see the good in all of it.
4) Expose yourself to the natural beauty around you.
Getting to the heart of your life is about getting to the heart of the world and nowhere will you find heart than when you surround yourself with natural beauty.
Taking to the great outdoors helps connect you to source energy that we often forget is there. When you are working to align your life, you need to look at everything that is around you, but also what you can’t see.
Connecting to source energy is easy when you get out and breathe the fresh air, take in the sounds and sights of the world around you and experience ease because of where you are.
There’s no doubt that nature can make us feel more alive.
Research suggests that there’s something about nature that keeps us psychologically healthy.
According to a study on the effect of nature on the brain, nature has the unique ability to restore attention and increase creativity, which is great when you’re preparing to go soul-searching:
“If you’ve been using your brain to multitask—as most of us do most of the day—and then you set that aside and go on a walk, without all of the gadgets, you’ve let the prefrontal cortex recover…And that’s when we see these bursts in creativity, problem-solving, and feelings of well-being.”
5) Carve out some me time.
In order to get to know your soul and have a better, more meaningful connection with yourself, you need to spend time with yourself.
Some people, unfortunately, don’t like to be alone and can feel the pressure to find something to do with their time every minute of the day.
But according to Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. in Psychology Today, being alone allows us to replenish ourselves:
“Constantly being “on” doesn’t give your brain a chance to rest and replenish itself. Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly. It’s an opportunity to revitalize your mind and body at the same time.”
However, what happens to us when we are left with our thoughts is that we see ourselves in ways we don’t usually acknowledge.
When there aren’t people around who can provide distractions from the things we don’t like about ourselves, we feel depressed, sad, anxious, and withdrawn from our own lives.
In order to have a better connection, though, you do need to be willing to dig in your heels and spend some time with yourself in a non-judgmental way.
6) Meet new people.
While it is important to carve out me time when you are on your soul search, it is also important that you surround yourself with people who lift you up and make you feel alive.
Choosing to be around people who are good for your soul help you feel connected to yourself and the people around you.
And when you meet new people, it ignites your soul and makes you feel alive.
In fact, according to a 2010 review of research, the effect of social ties on life span is twice as strong as that of exercising, and similar to that of quitting smoking.
It’s also important to note that if someone makes you feel poorly about yourself, you need to ask why you permit that person into your life.
Then you need to ask yourself if that person is really making you feel poorly about yourself or are you thinking that on your own?
People don’t have any power of us and the more time you spend with them, matched with time alone to process, you’ll find that to be true.
So, how can you meet new people?
Here are some easy tips to get you started:
1) Reach out to friends of friends.
2) Sign up for meetup.com These are real-life meetups with people who share the same interest.
3) Make an effort with co-workers.
4) Join a local team or running clubs.
5) Join an education class.
7) Take a break from social media.
Social media will suck the soul out of you. We spend so much time on various platforms that we don’t even realize how much we are impacted by what we see in the world.
Whether news or events are being posted from your own neighbourhood or you are being bombarded with information from across the globe, social media can make you feel like you are all alone and have no hope. It’s a great tool, of course, but in small amounts.
The less time you spend on social media, the more you will have clarity about your own likes, wants, needs, desires, and life.
Cutting back on your social media will help you make unbiased decisions about where you want to go and who you want to be.
According to Dr. Lauren Hazzouri in Forbes, you don’t need to quit social media for good, but it’s important to take a break from social media every now and then:
“The reality is that it’s not all or nothing, and social media isn’t going away anytime soon. So how you use your time during a social media detox to deal with the issues offline, is key to ensuring you’re no longer triggered when you see a post online.”
8) Identify your source of energy.
We all gather our energy from different places. Some people derive meaning and energy from the people around them. Others find peace in solitude.
Whether you like a big crowd of people or you prefer the company of small groups, identifying how you bring energy into your life is an important step in reconnecting with your soul.
Some people derive their energy from meditation, reading, nature, or gratitude. Others find meaning in helping others, sleeping, or self-care.
When you are trying to reconnect with your soul, figuring out this piece of information will go a long way to help you feel whole again.
Feeling disconnected from your soul can be trying for people, but the more you work at the connection, the more impactful and meaningful it will be for you.
9) Keep learning.
One of the most important things you need to do when trying to reconnect with your soul is to keep learning.
Reading, writing, talking to people, trying new things, and of course, failure, all help you to learn to keep pushing on.
Reconnecting with your soul is not about discovering who you are, but who you are meant to be.
You can’t figure out who you are meant to be sitting on the couch watching Netflix. You need to experience the world, experience new things, struggle to overcome obstacles, and see yourself as a being of the world who has something to give.
Learning helps you see what you have to give and helps you identify ways to not only make a lasting impression on others but to live a fulfilled and enriched life while you are at it.
10) Think about your daily you
In the end, it’s through routines that you eventually change your life for the better. Tony Robbins says it best:
“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.” – Tony Robbins
Take this opportunity to think about what your daily routines look like.
How can you change your daily routine so that you can take care of your body, your mind, and your needs?
Here are all the ways you could be nourishing your soul with consistent self-love:
– Eating healthy
– Meditating daily
– Exercising regularly
– Having short-term and long-term goals
– Thanking yourself and those around you
– Sleeping properly
– Playing when you need it
– Avoiding vices and toxic influences
How many of these activities do you allow yourself?
Nourishing your soul and successfully implementing a productive “soul search” is more than just a state of mind – it’s also a series of actions and habits that you embed into your everyday life.
To implement a successful soul search, do these 10 things:
- Examine your immediate situation and be grateful: When you connect with yourself in a way that pays homage to what you’ve done, you’ll have plenty of evidence to contradict any negative thoughts you might have about your life while you continue to change and grow.
- Pay attention to your family and friends: t is about taking ownership of your relationships from your point of view and to do the best you can with the people who are in your life.
- Calibrate your career trajectory: We derive a lot of meaning from the work we do, the places we work, the people we work with and the way in which you engage with others and the products we put in the world.
- Expose yourself to the natural beauty around you: Connecting to source energy is easy when you get out and breathe the fresh air, take in the sounds and sights of the world around you and experience ease because of where you are.
- Carve out some me-time: In order to have a better connection, though, you do need to be willing to dig in your heels and spend some time with yourself in a non-judgmental way.
- Meet new people: Choosing to be around people who are good for your soul help you feel connected to yourself and the people around you.
- Take a break from social media: The less time you spend on social media, the more you will have clarity about your own likes, wants, needs, desires, and life.
- Identify your source of energy: When you are trying to reconnect with your soul, figuring out what gives you energy will go a long way to help you feel whole again.
- Keep learning: Learning helps you see what you have to give and helps you identify ways to not only make a lasting impression on others but to live a fulfilled and enriched life while you are at it.
- Think about your daily you: Nourishing your soul and successfully implementing a productive “soul search” is more than just a state of mind – it’s also a series of actions and habits that you embed into your everyday life.
How this one Buddhist teaching turned my life around
My lowest ebb was around 6 years ago.
I was a guy in my mid-20s who was lifting boxes all day in a warehouse. I had few satisfying relationships – with friends or women – and a monkey mind that wouldn’t shut itself off.
During that time, I lived with anxiety, insomnia and way too much useless thinking going on in my head.
My life seemed to be going nowhere. I was a ridiculously average guy and deeply unhappy to boot.
The turning point for me was when I discovered Buddhism.
By reading everything I could about Buddhism and other eastern philosophies, I finally learned how to let things go that were weighing me down, including my seemingly hopeless career prospects and disappointing personal relationships.
In many ways, Buddhism is all about letting things go. Letting go helps us break away from negative thoughts and behaviors that do not serve us, as well as loosening the grip on all our attachments.
Fast forward 6 years and I’m now the founder of Hack Spirit, one of the leading self improvement blogs on the internet.
Just to be clear: I’m not a Buddhist. I have no spiritual inclinations at all. I’m just a regular guy who turned his life around by adopting some amazing teachings from eastern philosophy.
Sign up to Hack Spirit's daily emails
Learn how to reduce stress, cultivate healthy relationships, handle people you don't like and find your place in the world.