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Is something missing from your life?

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Linda Arnold, M.A., M.B.A., is a certified wellness instructor, psychological counselor and chairman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm with offices in West Virginia, Montana and Washington, D.C.   Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston WV  25301 or emailed to  livelifefully@arnoldagency.com.

You know the feeling. That nagging voice that asks over and over again. 

Maybe it's that small voice inside or maybe it comes from a colleague, friend, family member or the media. 

We're so busy with our lives — juggling all the balls — that we often don't hear that inner spirit, imploring us to follow our passion and fulfill our purpose in life. 

Huh? Who's got time to focus on stuff like that? 

I've interviewed a lot of people in my career — both as a researcher and a television host — about the concept of living life fully. The same themes always emerge. Why does it take a life-threatening illness or accident for us to appreciate life as we go along? 

We've all heard the stories of hostages who are released, and they're so grateful just to see the blue sky and touch the green grass. Similarly, after a bout of flu, we're so grateful to be feeling normal. And then we resume our regular routines and find ourselves complaining again about trivial things. Why can't we sustain that sense of gratitude and awe? 

Dr. Gregory Nicosia, a Pittsburgh psychologist, once told me the rationale for this behavior lies in the concept of homeostasis. It's the natural tendency of the human spirit to return to a state of homeostasis — where the organism as a whole attempts to maintain constancy or restore equilibrium if constancy is disturbed. 

Well, that clears it right up!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting we strive to live continuously by the platitudes of "stop and smell the roses" or "don't sweat the small stuff." After all, it's the contrasts in life that create the depth of our experiences and weave the rich tapestries. 

Awareness is the key. If we continue to go about our daily lives ignoring our inner messages, we're likely to find those gnawing questions coming up again and again. 

Are you settling for less in a relationship or a job? Will you ever be able to communicate effectively with your kids? When are you finally going to learn to play the guitar? How about that trip you're always talking about? Is your comfort zone becoming too comfortable? 

Many of us put off our dreams because we can't see any way in our current circumstances to get there.  Mostly, though, it's fear that keeps us frozen in our dreams — fear of failure, rejection, embarrassment, not being good enough. Or the dream seems so far off, and the steps to get there so overwhelming. 

What's one thing you could do today to feed your soul? It doesn't take much. Often, our inner spirits are so starved they're happy with a few crumbs. Maybe you could surf the Internet to find an article on something that's been speaking to you. Or go to a bookstore or the library. 

And then the real fun begins. You'll start to notice things all around you that speak to your passion — a blurb on the radio or a passage in a book — those amazing "coincidences." In psychology, this phenomenon is referred to as reticular memory. It's the same principle that kicks in when you buy a new car. All of a sudden you see the same car everywhere because you're focused on it and are "tuning in." 

Spirit and passion lead to the results in our lives. And this all begins with our thoughts. Did you know you have about 60,000 thoughts a day? And that most of them are the same ones you thought yesterday? Our thoughts lead to our beliefs, which drive our behaviors and result in our circumstances. 

Most of the time, though, we jump in and try to change the circumstances first — without going back to the beginning of the cycle to examine our thoughts and beliefs. And that's a formula for self sabotage — or just a temporary fix at best. 

Napoleon Hill, author of "Think and Grow Rich," pioneered these principles of discipline back in the 1930s. Hill interviewed numerous successful people — including Thomas Edison and Henry Ford — and distilled the qualities that made them rich (not only materially, but also with rich life experiences). Similarities abound with contemporary billionaires like Bill Gates. 

Spirit and passion had everything to do with the results in these extraordinary lives — as they do with all our lives. Every day we're seeing more evidence. Both Harvard Medical School and the National Institutes of Health have divisions dedicated to the mind/body connection. 

So, if you're always feeling that there's something missing in your life, try taking a step back to listen to that inner voice and tune into a frequency that supports that spirit. About this time of year, many of us are disappointed in the New Year's resolutions we made. This is probably because we tried to change a circumstance in our lives (being overweight, being a smoker, stuck in a dead-end job, being in a bad relationship) without changing the corresponding thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that preceded the circumstance. 

It's been said that 70 percent of the information around us is negative. So, we need to overcompensate just to get to neutral. 

Remember, though, to be gentle with yourself. The circumstances in your life didn't occur overnight, and they won't be changed overnight. As June Cleaver used to say to Ward in the TV show, "Don't be too hard on The Beav."