Discover the definition, how to find your true calling, and why it’s okay not to have one.
A “true calling” is thought to be the work that you are “meant” to do or the work you’re optimally suited for. Duffy & Dik note components of an “external summons, sense of destiny, or perfect fit”; they also cite “prosocial motivation” as a frequent component of callings (reviewed in 2013, p. 429). “True calling” is synonymous with “passion” (as in “find your passion”) and with “dream” (as in “follow your dream”). Your true calling doesn’t have to be your job or career (hence stereotypes such as the waitress who longs to be an actress). Your true calling doesn’t have to be what you’re best at, but it’s generally a talent; it can show up at any life stage, but often makes itself known in childhood.
How to Find Your True Calling
If you have a “true calling,” you probably already know what it is, even if you haven’t yet labeled it as a calling. To identify your calling, you can ask yourself these questions:
If you know your calling and want to dive into it, but don’t know where to start, there are several suggestions below. This is not suggesting that anyone should quit their day job and immediately devote all their time to a calling (unless you want to and have the necessary financial and social safety net). You can, however, ease into a calling–for example, by turning it into a side hustle before switching careers entirely or by keeping it as a hobby.
1. Find a Mentor or Critique Group
The psychologist Lev Vygotsky theorized that we learn and grow with the help of “more knowledgeable others” who help us bridge the gap between what we can currently achieve alone and what we can potentially achieve with guidance (reviewed by Mcleod, 18 August 2022). If you want to master a calling, an expert who believes in you might be able to see potential and weaknesses that you can’t and guide you both creatively and professionally (if you want to pursue the calling professionally, that is).
2. Submit or Exhibit Work
Sharing your work might give you confidence and hearing others’ opinions might help you learn to deal with criticism. If you want to turn a calling into a living, sharing your work is a good step toward making money (which, ultimately, can translate into more time to pursue the work).
No matter your talent level, practice is necessary for most of us to develop true mastery. Even for prodigies, practice is probably needed to fulfill one’s true potential and to experience the benefits of having a calling.
4. Learn from the Masters
A true calling is not necessarily a choice–its innate talent coupled with a sometimes-obsessive passion that drives you to develop that talent throughout your life, even despite danger, pain, risk, and disappointments. It’s possible to have more than one calling or none. Although a true calling can lend meaning and purpose to your life, having none can provide more freedom, adaptability, creativity, and comfort. If you have a true calling (that doesn’t harm others), it’s okay to pursue it even if it seems like an insecure path or doesn’t fit others’ plans for you.
To engage with your calling, you can set reasonable standards, find a mentor, learn from the masters, practice, find your voice, and share your work with others. However, you choose to pursue your calling, or if you decide you don’t have one, try to live a life that (as much as possible) honors your strengths and aligns with your truest priorities
4 Ways to Better Your Health by Laughing
Discover laughter exercises and the physical and mental health benefits.
One of the best feelings in the world is sharing a good belly laugh with the people you care about. Laughter is a universal part of the human experience, and it has the power to build a bridge between people of all different backgrounds and walks of life. You don’t even need to speak the same language as another person to share a laugh with them. Even though you have likely experienced laughter countless times in your life, how much do you know about this emotion?
Keep reading to gain a better understanding of this complex human emotion.
What Is Laughter?
Hopefully, laughter is an emotion you experience and express daily. It is usually a spontaneous vocalization in response to something humorous. Laughter is a social expression of emotion–we are more than 30 times more likely to laugh when we are with another person than if we are alone (Provine, 2004). That’s because laughter is a way that we communicate with other people.
Laughter & Health
There is evidence to show that laughing can improve your mental health. This happens because the positive emotion of laughter can override other negative emotions you may be experiencing (Saper, 1990).
Positive effects on mental health due to laughter:
Do you feel like you need a mental health boost? Laughing just might be the answer. You can try calling up a friend to talk about old funny stories or looking up your favorite funny movie moments on YouTube. It might be uncomfortable at first but replacing negative emotions with happy ones can have a positive effect on your life.
Incorporating a regular laughter yoga practice into your life can have even further physical health benefits.
Positive effects on physical health due to laughter:
You may experience all of the mental and physical health benefits of laughter listed above with regular practice. Luckily, the brain is not able to distinguish between spontaneous laughter (occurring randomly between two people) and self-induced laughter (making yourself laugh) (Mora-Ripoll, 2010). This means that you can experience all the benefits of laughter by simply practicing it, even if you might not feel like laughing at the moment.
How to Laugh More
Do you feel like you need more joy in your life? It can be easy to get overwhelmed by events on the news and around the world. Making an effort to incorporate more laughter into your life can help alleviate stress. Consider trying the following activities.
Laughing is a way that we communicate with other people. It can help lighten your mood by replacing negative emotions with positive ones. Just laughing can make you feel better and practicing laughter yoga regularly can also lead to other benefits. It can improve mental health by improving quality of life, cognitive function, and happiness; laughter yoga can also be beneficial for your physical health by lowering blood pressure and stress hormones and increasing your quality of sleep.
Do you feel like you could benefit from more laughter in your life? Try going to a funny movie with a friend or incorporating laughter yoga into your morning routine. It can be a wonderful practice to bring more joy and happiness into your life.
Discover the wonders of consciousness.
Our lack of comprehension regarding the nature of consciousness, where it comes from, and why it exists is not a reflection of a lack of effort. Humans have rigorously interrogated the nature of consciousness for millennia and in recent years, consciousness has become a popular topic of scientific inquiry.
The term ‘consciousness’ has eluded a precise definition for thousands of years. Summary definitions of consciousness fall short when it comes to capturing the dimensionality of the term. We might use the word ‘consciousness’ to describe perceptual awareness (I am conscious of the person in front of me), the nature of being awake and alert (when under anesthesia one loses consciousness), or self-awareness and intentionality (a heavily intoxicated person might not be conscious of their actions). Many scientists and philosophers would argue that ‘consciousness’ is better understood as the subjective human experience; the “I” you’re referring to when you say, “I love you”; and the experience of being you.
It’s unclear how or why the brain (which is essentially a fistful of electrified meat) would give rise to the depth and complexity of the human experience, but we have ample compelling evidence to support the conclusion that the two are indeed functionally linked.
One simple example of the functional relationship between brain processes and consciousness is the effect of anesthesia on consciousness. Anesthesiologists can turn consciousness off and on by altering your brain chemistry with specific chemical compounds.
Hallucinogens are another straightforward example of the relationship between brain chemistry and consciousness. Hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms) or LSD (sometimes referred to as ‘acid’) create an altered state of consciousness by changing the way in which different parts of the brain communicate with each other.
Consciousness has been a popular topic of inquiry for scientists and philosophers in recent years and several promising theories of consciousness have emerged. These include integrated information theory, higher-order theory, recurrent processing theory, and global workspace theory. It is important to note that these are not necessarily competing theories. The validity of one does not imply the inaccuracy of the others. Rather, each of these theories can be thought of as a different approach to understanding consciousness with different overarching goals (Seth & Bayne, 2022).
1. Integrated Information Theory
Integrated information theory is a sort of mathematical approach to describing consciousness. This theory proposes that consciousness is basically a form of information that arises from the physical and functional integration of elements within a system. The focus of integrated information theory is to identify the physical attributes that are necessary for a system to be conscious.
2. Higher-Order Theories
Higher-order theories of consciousness focus on understanding why some contents of the mind are conscious while others are not. Higher-order theories posit that mental states become conscious when they are the target of specific forms of meta-representations.
Meta-representations are basically the capacity of the mind to generate a representation that is built from lower-level representations. For example, imagine looking at a Magnolia tree. The higher-order representation of a Magnolia tree (the tree as it exists in your conscious experience) is the amalgamation of lower-order representations like color, size, shape, smell, context, and any memories or pre-conceptions you might have about magnolia trees.
3. Reentry and Predictive Process Theory
The basis of re-entry and predictive processing theory is that conscious mental states are grounded in predictions about the causes of sensory information. Although it may not be apparent, reality is a noisy barrage of sense data that has to be filtered and interpreted by the brain. This theory postulates that consciousness emerged as a means to help us filter and unify noisy sense data in a way that allows us to adaptively interact with our environment. You might summarize re-entry and predictive processing theory as ‘consciousness is your brain's best guess about reality.’
4. Global Workspace Theories
Global workspace theories focus on what is referred to as conscious access. Conscious access refers to the perceptions and mental states that are available to awareness. As mentioned before, at any given point in time we are being bombarded by sensory information, only a fraction of which can make it into our conscious awareness. For example, most of the time we are not conscious of the sensation of our clothes on our skin because there are typically more important features of our reality to which we need to dedicate our limited attentional capacity. Thus, the sensation of clothing essentially gets booted from the “global workspace” of the mind in favor of more relevant information. Global workspace theory would suggest that when we focus on this sensation - when we bring it into conscious awareness - we are “broadcasting” it to the global workspace where it can then be used to inform our thoughts or behavior.
Though the true nature of consciousness remains elusive, its relevance for our lives is apparent. After all, what would life be like without it?
Years of philosophy and scientific inquiry have taught us a great deal about many aspects of consciousness like perception, intention, self-awareness, and, to some extent, subjective experience. Most of the neuroscientific research done on the topic focuses on the role of the cerebral cortex (the outermost portion of the brain) in consciousness. Although the cortex is surely an important player in some aspects of consciousness, there is certainly much more to the picture.
Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.