Becoming-Nourishing That Unseen Part of You

woman on journey of becoming

I’ve introduced, in the past, the ABCs of happiness: Appreciating, Becoming, and Connecting. I’ve also written quite a bit about appreciating in past blog posts. I define it as an attitude of gratitude, expressing thanks for the goodness of your life and what has made it so. Today, I want to turn our attention to a definition of becoming, at least how I think about becoming.

Meaning of Becoming

So let me offer a definition of becoming. I think of it as a process of growth into a more mature human being, someone able to bring his or her best (though imperfect and evolving) self to the situations and challenges of life.  We become through the experience of living, if open, self-reflective, willing to take responsibility and connect with the deeper part of ourselves. In fact, let me suggest that a pathway for becoming is nourishing and enlarging our hearts or spirits or souls–that unseen part of us.  

In other words, the pathway of growth is not just about striving to be a better person. It is about nourishing or loving and caring for ourselves. As we care for ourselves, we get to know our deeper needs. We become more real and authentic. We get clear about our priorities. We grow spiritually. We seek to do what is right and good and not just convenient. We become, in other words, better or more mature people. But the wellspring of this becoming is self-love rather than the outward manifestations of performing, proving, perfecting, pleasing, or possessing.

Our Souls Need to be Nourished

I believe that our souls need to be nourished. In the same way that we nourish our physical bodies by feeding and caring for them, we can nourish our souls—which will bring deep and long-term joy, peace, and happiness.

Of course, how we nourish and enlarge our souls is not the same for everyone. I’m going to share ideas but encourage you to listen to your heart and you’ll know what you can do to nourish your soul and find greater fulfillment and meaning in your life.

An Inner Journey

The pathway of becoming that I’m suggesting, nourishing your soul, is about your inner journey. It has less to do with the size of your bank account or job title (achievements and accomplishments) and more to do with connecting and growing your inner self.

This reminds me of a passage from my book, The Hero’s Choice: Leading from the Inside Out.

Hal was quiet as he watched a hawk circle high above his head. “(My friend) missed out on a lot to become rich and famous.”

Donald nodded. “That brings up a distinction. There’s success, or achieving a predetermined outcome. And there’s fulfillment, the sense that life is full and meaningful. When success doesn’t lead to fulfillment, most people redouble their efforts, believing that accomplishing even more will bring their elusive prize. What they don’t realize is that success and fulfillment are not the same thing.”

Hal sat up. “Wow, I guess I’ve known that… but I see how much I’ve been caught up in the trappings of success.” He rubbed his hand along the coarse granite surface on which he was sitting. “But I hope we don’t have to give up success to find fulfillment.”

Donald tossed a small rock over the ridge. “Nope. In fact, most of us would have a hard time finding fulfillment if we didn’t set goals and go after them. We have to get out there in the world and mix it up—but we also need to remember that success has to do with outer, material things, and fulfillment has to do with our inner or spiritual world.” He turned toward Hal. “The more important journey isn’t the one out there. It’s in here,” he said, pointing to his chest.

I believe that the distinction between success and fulfillment is critical. Each is an important part of our journey. And we can grow from each. But they are not the same.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

Studies show that people who pursue intrinsic goals like gratitude, compassion, personal growth, and meaningful relationships are much happier than those who pursue extrinsic goals of a big house, nice car, fancy job title, etc. This is why so many who live in 3rd world countries can be as happy as people in more affluent societies.

Let me share some of the research which demonstrates this. In one study, college students were divided into two groups. One group was told to create happiness for the next 24 hours. If you were asked to do this, what would you do? You’d probably go out and engage in pleasure-seeking activities. The second group was told to create meaning for the next 24 hours. At the end of 24 hours, they came together and measured both groups on a scale of happiness. The group that was told to create meaning scored significantly higher than the group told to create happiness.

In another study, experimenters asked students to do something fun. A second group was instructed to do something philanthropic. Only the students that did something philanthropic got a big boost in their happiness scores.

Practices Which Nourish

There are many practices which help us connect to our inner selves and nourish our souls. Here are a few ideas, some of which I’ll expand upon in future blog posts.

  • Quieting your mind and body through meditation or prayer
  • Absorbing good music and art
  • Taking time to savor the little pleasures of life
  • Spending time in nature
  • Being fully present in the moment
  • Defining and pursuing a personal purpose (or turning your job into a purpose)
  • Engaging in a cause that is bigger than yourself
  • Singing like no one is listening (or maybe like the whole world is listening)
  • Cultivating reverence or gratitude
  • Worshiping a higher power
  • Being totally absorbed in a hobby (into a state of flow)
  • Having a deep conversation
  • Forgetting yourself in play or recreation
  • Doing deliberate acts of kindness
  • Giving service to others, particularly those less fortunate than you

I step back and this looks like a laundry list. That isn’t my intent. To be genuinely nourishing and fulfilling, these must be practices which you engage in thoughtfully and whole-heartedly. The quality of any of them may be surface or deep and meaningful. It all depends on what you bring to the practice.

Of course, there are many other practices that you could add which may be satisfying. (My wife would add a hot bath to this list.) I consider a practice as nourishing when it moves you, fulfills, or expands you in some way. It is more than immediate gratification or a temporary diversion. These are practices which leave you more connected to life, nature, God, other people and/or yourself.

What Might You Do?

It is easy to become alienated from our deeper selves in this busy, noisy, and stressful world. Frankly, it’s too easy to look at our phones, turn on the TV or scan the internet rather than cultivate deeper connection. But it is this deeper connection that nourishes and leads to meaning and fulfillment.

So, consider your life. Listen to your heart and intuition. What do you do, today, to connect deeply with life? Can you come up with ways you may nourish yourself more deeply? What would it take to do so? And don’t hesitate to leave a thought below.



  1. Aubrey J Tennant

    Great article!
    I would add spending quality time connecting with family that you feel close to.

    • Roger Allen

      Thanks, Aubrey and I agree with your recommendation. In fact, I’m going to add that as a bullet point in my article.


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