Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 4 Your Purpose Exercise 2

The next part of finding my purpose is to “discover my greatest vexation” as Tsh puts it. Because what’s bothering us is usually what we wish would change and that in turn can reveal our desire to fix those problems or to be a part of the solution. Even if our life purpose is not to be an agent of change in big spectacular ways, our irritants point to what we want to make better at least in our own lives. So in this exercise, I get to rant and write down what irritates/ angers/ bothers me most, without over analyzing the meaning behind them. I then look to see if there is a common thread among them.

What irritates me….

Laziness. Incompetence. Not being proactive. Overly reliant. Poor time keeping. Indecisiveness. Stinginess. Inability to live up to role. Interruptions. Multitasking. Not taking ownership. Lax attitude. Clutter/messy spaces. Hoarding.
Lack of knowledge. Out-of-touch with society. Not planning ahead. Insensitive. Poor service. Being imposed upon. Disorder. Too many ridiculous rules. Office politics.
Excessively concerned with pleasing a certain figure/group of people. Rigidity.
Mindless small talk. Networking events. Too much paperwork. Lack of independence.
Intrusion. Poor service. Loud. Wasting time. Passivity. Phone calls. Chores. Pressure to sell. Tight spaces. Hectic. Lacking discipline. Overly simplistic – not acknowledging a deeper issue. Lacking integrity & trustworthiness.




Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 4 Your Purpose Exercise 1

My Purpose

…and the self-assessment continues!

I must admit, this is getting really tedious and daunting for me. I thought I’m was done with data collecting from all the self-assessment exercises in lessons two and three but there’s more in this lesson! I want to cry! But I’ve come this far, I can’t stop now. So let’s move on….

I’ll pause here and share an excerpt from Tsh in this lesson. It encapsulates how I feel about starting this upstream paddling in the first place.

I believe a person’s universal purpose in life involves his or her Maker. I really like Catholic scholar Harold Koenig’s explanation of our universal life purpose: he says we’re all here to simply “to love and serve God, and to love and serve others.” He then goes on to say, “It’s really so very, very simple. When we are fulfilling that purpose, then that place deep down inside of us fills up and we experience peace and happiness. When we’re not, and we begin focusing on our own self and our own needs exclusively, then other emotions start flooding in.” In fact, I’d argue that part of our journey in life involves the very practice of discovering why we’re here on earth. In other words, part of our purpose on earth is to explore our purpose on earth. It seems like we were made to wrestle with this kind of stuff, to talk through it, to deepen our relationships because of it, to become more whole and alive and at peace when we pursue our reason for being here in a healthy manner. And I believe part of that health comes by knowing ourselves deeply, knowing ourselves well. That’s what we’re doing here in Upstream.

For ease, I like to think of the foundational, basic answer to the question, “What are we here for?” with that answer from Harold Koenig: “to love and serve God, and to love and serve others.” 

Exercise 1

Tsh recommends that the most direct way to understand our purpose is to understand our desires. What do we enjoy? What fuels us? What keeps us reading and learning more; what moves us to tears? I will now attempt to draw insights from the exercise I did on My Best Day in lesson 2 and see what they reveal about my desires. Because the entire exercise is based on a scenario birthed purely from my desires, there should be plentiful breadcrumbs to follow. To work on this more efficiently, I reproduced a copy of that exercise here and next to each clue I put down the desires they’re pointing to in brackets. I will then consolidate them and draw up the common themes that I see.

I start the day fairly early (intention) after a night of restful sleep (health). There is no agenda for the day (freedom, spontaneity) so I am completely free and unhurried (slow pace). Everyone else is asleep (personal space and time) and there is complete silence (peace). I tidy up the house a little and ensure my space is clean and uncluttered (intention, beauty, simplicity, minimalism, order). I down 2 glasses of purified water with some ACV to kick start my body (health) and puts the kettle on the stove for a cup of herbal tea (nature’s gift). I put a few drops of grounding EO blend in the diffuser (balance, stability, sensory, sensitivity, nature’s gift) and starts it while I take my shower. My bathroom is bright (clarity, optimism), clean and dry (sensory sensitivity). After a pampering shower (self-care/love) I step out to a lovely scented room (sensory) which I have all to myself (personal space) and starts to blow dry my hair (self-care). I change into something comfortable (comfort, sensory) and settle down on a cozy couch (comfort, home) with my herbal tea to start my devotional time with God and prayer (spirituality).

I put together a simple and healthy breakfast (health) and eats it while catching up on the day’s headline news on TV (overview, general knowledge) . Everyone else starts to wake and prepare themselves to leave for work and school. After cleaning up (intention, order, beauty), I head out for a hike in the mountains (nature, beauty, activity, sacred) with my daughter (companionship).

The fresh cool mountain air (sensory, optimism, clarity), lush greenery (nature, beauty, abundance) and scent of fresh dew (sensory, newness, fresh start) in the woods is grounding for my soul (stability, security, peace). I feel like I can hide away from the world (invisible, smallness, security); like a sort  of refuge (security, safety). My daughter makes good company (companionship). We chat about everything under the sun (camaraderie, connection, friendship) as we make our way up (exploration, advancement). After a while we seek out an open valley (beauty, nature, space) and take a break by a scenic stream (beauty, peace) surrounded by picturesque landscape (beauty, nature) and the gentle sound (gentle, sensory) of rustling leaves and flowing water (nature, sensory). We brought some snacks along and ate them (down-to-earth) as we enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings (beauty, peace, nature, comfort). For a change of energy (active energy) we engage is some people-watching (passivity, observation). We like that the crowd is just right, not too large (balance, moderation). We then make our way up to one of the peaks for the awesome view (space, freedom, openness, beauty, clarity). I soak in the liberating sensation of being on top of the world (freedom, in control, smallness). Feeling small and insignificant in such massive spaces (space, freedom) feels strangely comforting and reassuring (comfort, reassurance); like it’s OK to be imperfect and make mistakes (acceptance, ordinary, human) because the world is so much more than just me and my life (higher purpose).

After taking some Nat Geo worthy pictures (skillful, creativity, recognition) we make our way down, reaching the base in time for lunch at a cozy cottage style eatery (home, comfort, laid back) overlooking the valley (beauty). We sat outdoors (space, freshness, nature) and enjoy a nice leisurely lunch (slow pace) before heading home.

At home I catch up on some updates on social media (current, relevance, social), check my emails (on track) and watch an episode or 2 of my favorite k-drama (intention, Korean culture). The weather is beautiful outside so I hopped onto our garden swing (innocence, playful, novelty) with a soft blanket (comfort, home), a good book (intuit, absorb, knowledge, connect, inspire) and a warm cup of tea and freshly baked scones (home). Soon I am asleep (rest) to the gentle lull of the swing (comfort) and the sweet aroma of fresh flowers and herbs in the garden (sensory, nature). It was a short nap but I wake up refreshed and energized.

I head out for a walk (activity) in the neighborhood (familiarity) with my daughter. I love the juxtaposition of old and new (old & new, variety, novelty, roots) in this quaint neighborhood (charm, attractive, unique, character) and the mix of energetic vibe and creative air (energy, creativity). The people here are quietly warm and friendly (mild, warmth, casual, friendly), without imposing (privacy). The streets are filled with pretty and interesting things at every turn and corner (variety, novelty, unique, fun). We enjoy our stroll exploring the alleys (exploration) in this hilly (elevation) neighborhood. Interesting cafes and tea houses with al-fresco sitting and scenic patios dotted the landscape (beauty, charm, quaint, character, casual elegance, laid back). We stop by one to enjoy a cup of hot sweet potato latte (Korean culture) and some fine cakes and pastries (sensory pleasure). On the street in front there’s a young busker playing the guitar and singing a ballad from one of my favorite K-drama OST (sensory pleasure, music, Korean culture).  We reminisce about old times (nostalgia), laughed and joked about how silly we were then (laughter, camaraderie). After picking up some desserts for dinner later, we stop by a florist that looks more like a greenhouse (nature) to pick out a cute potted daisy for our kitchen window (home, beauty, cheer). It’ll add more cheer to the place! Next to the florist is a small art gallery (art, beauty). We spotted a piece of fine Korean art (art, beauty, hand-crafted) and thought it’ll look great in the dining room so we got that too.

The free market is on today! (carefree, vibrancy, variety, novelty, alternative lifestyle)  We can’t miss it! We love the vibrant, carefree and bohemian atmosphere there. The plethora of things to see, taste and hear is fun and exciting (fun, excitement, sensory pleasure). We pick-up a few interesting trinkets, accessories, handcrafted scents and wares and sampled some home-baked goods (hand-crafted, authentic, original). Soon it’s time to head home. We chose to walk (intention, activity, leisure) instead of taking the metro or public bus to avoid the crowd and congestion (space, privacy).

I look forward to meet my siblings and mom at my sister’s place for dinner tonight (family, home, roots). Each of us takes turn to host a dinner every month (balance, fairness). We enjoy catching up on each other’s lives as we bond over a home cooked meal (family, home, connection, camaraderie). I get some work done on my laptop (productivity), freshen up (self-image) and headed out with the family. We enjoy a nice meal together, laughing and chatting. After dinner we chill out at the patio with drinks and desserts (casual, connection, rest). The night went by quickly and soon we’re headed home. I do some end-of-day tidying (intention, productivity, tidiness) before winding down for the day. I diffuse a relaxing blend of EO (nature’s gift, sensory pleasure) and dim the lights as I prop myself up against the pillow on my bed and spends some time journaling and in prayer (reflection, spirituality) . I turn in early to ensure I am well rested for the next day (self-care).

Common themes that point to my desires.
State of being:
freedom, peace, health, balance, stability, clarity, optimism, self-care/love, comfort, home, spirituality, abundance, newness, fresh start, security, safety, gentleness, down-to-earth, moderation, openness, in control, smallness, innocence, intuition, leisure, reflection, harmony, higher purpose, relevance, inspiration

slow paced, laid back, spontaneity, intention, exploration, advancement, active energy, passive observation, absorb, creativity, playful, rest, familiarity, fun, carefree, vibrancy, excitement, productivity, nostalgia,

personal space & time, beauty, simplicity, minimalism, order, sensory pleasure, nature’s gift, nature, vast spaces, novelty, old & new, variety,  elevation, quaint, character, casual elegance, laid back, music, tidiness, harmony, sacred

companionship, camaraderie, connection, friendship, acceptance, reassurance, recognition, warmth, casual, friendly, privacy, laughter, cheer, family, harmony

ordinary, knowledge, roots, charm, attractive, unique, character, fairness, self-image, Korean culture, art, hand-crafted, alternative lifestyle, authentic, original, quality, skillful, big picture, general knowledge, to be current.


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The Art of Simple

Upstream Field Guide: Lesson 3 Who Are You Part 3-4

What are my strengths?

Now we’ve come to the final bit of the self-assessment exercise – finding my top 5 strengths. It’s important to be aware of our strengths so we can to use them to our advantage. The new school of thought is that we’re better off taping on our God-given strengths and using them well instead of working to improve on our weaknesses.

Tsh recommends Gallup Strength Center for the strength finder assessment but since I’ve already taken a similar test at Truity for free, I’ll save on the USD$15 and use that report instead.

Top 5 personal strengths.

Strengths of Intellect
Wisdom 70% 
Love for learning  65% 
Judgment  63%
Curiosity  48%
Creativity 35%

Strengths of Self-Management
Prudence 73% 
Humility 65%
Perseverance 65%
Honesty 65% 
Self-control 63%
Courage 30%

Social Strengths
Fairness 63%
Forgiveness 58%
Social Intelligence 55%
Teamwork 53%
Kindness 50%
Capacity for Love 48%
Leadership 45%

Strengths of Joy
Spirituality 68% 
Awe 63%
Gratitude 60%
Optimism 56%
Enthusiasm 48%
Humor 38%

Strengths that I bring to my job
Organization and drive, good stress tolerance, emotional stability and resilience, able to negotiate a balance between meeting own needs and needs of others.