This weekend one of my dear friends said something I can’t get out of my head. She said, “My dad taught me that we are obligated to live a good life, to give back in some way.”

This resonated so strongly, I literally felt the words when she said them.

I know that some will get caught up in the word “obligated” – there’s a feeling of defensiveness when we are told we have to do something.

But I view the word “obligated” as an invitation to realize ourselves, to figure out who we are so we can share what we have.

And sharing what we have isn’t always a business-creating or fame-seeking endeavor. Most of the time “sharing what we have” simply means being real so we can love others and practice joy-filled living.

And even joy-filled living has its share of mistakes and challenges. But these mistakes and challenges are course correctors, our signs to go deeper inside and find a new direction. They are wake-up calls so we get off autopilot and realign.

So we don’t need to fear not being perfect, rather we can be in appreciation for the reminders that perfection doesn’t exist, that striving to be externally validated doesn’t hold a candle to feeling internally accepted and peaceful.

Then when we accept our humanness and experience peace, we get to share it. We get to smile at our kids when they run toward us, we get to hold the door open for the person behind us, we get to hug someone who really needs a hug. We get to BE what we are asking the world to be.

It is very difficult to be kind and accepting toward others when we are battling a war inside. When we are dealing with self loathing or a lack of inner respect, that’s what others experience in our presence – whatever we are full of is what tends to leak out of us.

And that is when we need the most self-loving behavior of all, the ability to ask for help, the ability to speak what we really need, the ability to reach out to others for stabilization. It’s the strongest and most important human trait, because as much as we try, we can’t do life alone. We are here to hold each other up. We are connected to help each other thrive.

And the more we are truthful and ask for help, the more we feel the love of others. The more we feel the love of others, the more we want to give back. Then we can fully embrace our obligation to this life and to this world – we get to feel joy and we get to share it.

What you share has a ripple effect, and loving ripples can create shifts beyond comprehension. Non-loving ripples create shifts beyond comprehension, too. We don’t need any more evidence of their effects.

Internal awareness creates change, and this is how the planet becomes a better place for our kids. Not by pointing fingers at others and gossiping about the latest news story, but by shifting our focus inside and on the moment. We are powerful when we recognize who we are.

So instead of feeling obligated to do something for others, feel the obligation to yourself. Trust that you are worthy simply because you are here. Once you meet that self obligation, you can’t help but practice love because that’s what lives underneath, that’s your true being. The rest is just smoke, mirrors, disconnection, misunderstanding, and of course, fear.

I wasn’t surprised to hear these words about obligation from my friend this weekend. She is just one of those true-blue people, an open book, a loving soul. She’s always been self accepting, she’s always placed tremendous value on truth and loyalty.

Her dad passed away when she was 18, I was with her the moment she found out. I love that she carries this wisdom from him inside of her. It shows.