What is your why?


Why do we do the things we do?

This is an important, but often under-asked, question. What is my ‘why’?

I ask myself this question when I start something new, and when I start living from habit and routine. Asking why wakes me up and helps me gain clarity.

Often extraneous demands and activities fall away if the answer is not in alignment with my values and the places I choose to spend my energy.

I want to live on purpose, my purpose, and to spend myself in ways that bring meaning and richness to life.

I don’t want to waste my time.

Why would I decide to write a column? My life is full and rich already, so why would I add one more thing to my to-do list?

Why, indeed.

As a nurse, educator, and minister, I notice increasing levels of stress, anxiety, depression. These challenges are not reserved for adults, as reports of anxiety and depression are increasing among our children.

We are in an epidemic of stress.

In my work, people say they are working harder and longer, but are experiencing decreased levels of happiness and satisfaction. They are not enjoying ‘adulting’.

Many are living lives of quiet desperation, being pulled forward on the hamster-wheel of life, busy, but not happy. Their life is based on reaction rather than awareness and conscious choice. They may feel out of alignment with their own values.

Many tell me they are racing daily through the motions of life, feeling pulled from one situation to the next, feeling spit out at the end of the day.

They are left wondering what happened, ending their day exhausted, sleeping, or maybe not, and repeating the same cycle again, day after day.

Where is purpose and meaning?

People often appear to be doing well as they put on a mask of pleasantness and control.

Recently, I heard a woman describe herself as being like a duck; from the outside, appearing to float along the surface of life pleasantly and smoothly, while underneath she was paddling like crazy, just trying to stay afloat, just trying to maintain the facade that everything was OK.

I’ve learned the value and importance of a new perspective, a new thought, and the benefit of pausing to ask why;  the value of living a life of conscious choice, reflecting personal values, rather than living life by default.

It is heartening to recognize we are always at a point of choice and change. Living in reaction to life can change into a life of conscious, mindful response. Many times, pausing can offer us a new, fresh perspective and clarity.

A new question can offer us a new perspective; it can cause us to wake up and see things differently. I love asking questions, and offering a new perspective.

Chronic stress is expensive to our physical, mental and emotional health. As the three intersect, it can feel like a downward spiral.

We may begin to see life as something to be survived instead of lived and enjoyed. Stress becomes a habit, but this habit can change.

Myriad research into the neuro-plastic nature of our brains, the ability of the brain to change and rewire offers great hope.

I know the reality of these findings because I have experienced stress, anxiety and burnout. I know, up close and personal, the physical, mental, and emotional cost of living life by default, pulled along by the demands of life.

I was that duck, until the duck started to drown, tired of furiously paddling beneath the surface.

I have awakened from the mental fog created by an over-abundance of cortisol and adrenalin coursing through my system, and have moved from a life of merely surviving to one of joyfully thriving.

I am grateful to have had all of this experience because it serves to allow me to understand as I journey with many people through similar terrain.

The answer to why write a column is powerful for me.  As a nurse, educator, and minister it is the most upstream care I can offer.

My want to offer a new perspective, to offer insights and ideas to cause you to pause and ask a new question, to consider a new perspective, a new thought, that could lead to a happier, more fulfilled experience of life.


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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