Take three steps to do what you love in work and life.

Our sweet spot is simple. We know it when we have found it: We buzz with aliveness. It is that moment when we are fully engaged in our head (mind), soul (heart) and purpose (true essence) to create our intended outcome of living a fulfilled and joyful life.

How do we know whether we are living from our sweet spot? It’s a physical sensation and emotional sense. Our logical voice can tell us (if we listen), and for sure, our hearts can be heavier when we don’t listen. In his book “Inspired Destiny,” Dr. John F. Demartini writes that “he would rather have the entire world against him than his own soul.”

Bottom line is that we don’t even have to be masters of our own internal processes to figure out whether we are living a life that is fulfilling. All it takes is asking the question and answering honestly, Am I full of joy? (Notice that the question is not, Am I happy? Happiness can come from a glass of wine or a shopping spree, and mostly those states don’t last. Joy, as a state, does!)

Discovering that we’re fooling ourselves and finding what is at our core can certainly be difficult, even something that some of us make a lifelong practice of avoiding.

We stopped listening

The problem is that we don’t get trained as children to listen in or listen for what our authentic expression of self really is. A major part of waking up and becoming aligned to a purpose that is bigger than ourselves is listening for the expression of “self” that is uniquely ours. This process of connecting to our essence is required to discover our purpose in life, and it takes work.

As a personal example, I very much want to be a conscious parent, and yet I still fall into the trap of imposing my values on my children. I just can’t help myself sometimes, and it has become a cultural meme to be totally neurotic about the future of our children. Still, I do stop the pace of life when I am fully aware and remind myself that the souls of my beautiful children are whole and complete. Outside of being taught the basics of safety, they don’t really need my imposed good ideas about who they are. Meditation and the ongoing work of transformation are my training and practice for reminding myself to stop and be present with exactly who my children are — and who they aren’t.

Are you listening?

So how do we get clear? Our emotional guiding system is our main mechanism to help create clarity of purpose. This is not the childish or adolescent reactionary. It’s the true emotional intelligence, which Daniel Goleman defined in his book “Emotional Intelligence” as “being able to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.”

The ability we need to develop as mature adults is to learn how to distinguish childhood emotions (which are preprogrammed) from ones that can guide us toward fulfillment. A key indicator (and hint) here is to identify the emotions from our childhood as reactionary ones. These are the ones that generally put us in states of confusion, chaos and sometimes fear. What we need to “train” to do is attune ourselves to and use the emotions that can guide us and put us in, or at least closer to, states of flow. While we’re familiar with the physiological aspects of flow states (we often call it “runner’s high”), there is a profound mental and emotional dimension to flow that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes in his seminal work “Flow.” Passion and total absorption merge and time seems to stand still for hours; this is the state in which artists create. 

Answer the call

Another thing that happens when we experience flow state is access to our authentic qualities or true essence. Even when you’re not in flow state, you can ask yourself, What are my qualities that need to be expressed no matter what? Be careful about the proclivities of your identity when you answer that question. If you survived your childhood by being funny, or strong, or helpful, those are not the qualities that will lead you to your authentic purpose. Reach for the qualities that give you a sense of clarity about yourself and the world, that are present at your moments of flow or your sweet spot.

Or consider those moments when you see another person exhibiting qualities that resonate with you, that touch you deeply. Those moments and qualities are the ones to integrate, align with and seek out, to reach that sweet spot where our minds, hearts and essence are engaged.

Author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield adds it all up: “It’s not an accident that musicians become musicians and engineers become engineers: it’s what they’re born to do. If you can tune into your purpose and really align with it, setting goals so that your vision is an expression of that purpose, then life flows much more easily.”

3 Keys to Realize Your Sweet Spot

1. The sweet spot is where our mind, our soul and our inspired purpose converge to be realized in the world. The sweet spot is where we experience ultimate fulfillment and flow. Take time to notice those moments, relish them, write them down, talk about them. The more you are present to them, the more often they will surface in your awareness.

2. Be attuned to your emotional guiding system (aka your emotional GPS). It’s a key to knowing whether you are close to living or, actually living, in the sweet spot of life! We have spent a lifetime ignoring and suppressing what we feel. Stop and at least listen to the dissonance between what you are feeling and the words or actions in your life. Work to shorten that space.

3. When you are in the sweet spot, you have a sense of total clarity about yourself and the world. It  makes you unstoppable. You are living the artistry that is available in life and living. It is completely up to you to craft a life that is uniquely yours. Take time this year, this month, this day, this moment to consider what that sweet spot would mean for you.

Photo credit: Thinkstock, iStock, Shtrunts.