St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time — a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic." Adrienne Cook
Do you feel imprisoned? Oppressed by your life’s circumstances? Are you constantly annoyed by the division, polarization and intolerance in the world?
Take a cue from Saint Patrick’s life and turn your annoyances into food for personal development.
Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up. This is a jolly feast, associated with parades, wild parties and decadent foods like corned beef and cabbage and, my favorite, Irish soda bread.
This year, before you take a sip of green beer, I invite you to take a closer look at the life of this extraordinary man. Let his legacy inspire you, so you can trade those feelings of oppression and annoyance for a sense of purpose and invincibility.
In this post, I will share with you five takeaways from his life that you can incorporate into your own for a happier existence.
Saint Patrick is best known for the conversion of Ireland into Christianity, but many of us know very little about his life.
You may be as surprised as I was that this holy man, born in fifth-century Britain to a prominent Christian family, did not start out with a particularly strong faith.
Then, fate intervened. When he was only 16, Saint Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery. Saint Patrick spent six years as a slave, shepherding sheep in the mountains of Ireland.
There, in solitude, isolation and inclement weather, he experienced conversion into Christianity and devoted his days to prayer and contemplation, which deepened his connection to a God he barely knew.
Inspired by his now unwavering faith, Saint Patrick managed a miraculous escape and returned to his homeland at the age of 21.
But his conversion caused a deep transformation that left him restless. He felt a call from God in a dream to return to Ireland as a Christian missionary, giving him a transcendental place in Irish history.
Like Saint Patrick, you can create your own history, starting where you are right now, regardless of your circumstances.
Today is the beginning of the rest of your life.
Why not emulate the example of Saint Patrick to create a life full of purpose, freedom and miracles?
Saint Patrick’s life is an invitation for ordinary people to live extraordinary lives.
Below are five lessons from this exemplary life that can inspire you to transform yours today:
1. Freedom is Your True Essence
Even as a captive, Saint Patrick knew that his true nature was freedom. Being held against his will and working for others without compensation could not rob from him his inner essence.
Instead of focusing on his lack of personal liberty, he focused on the freedom available to him in his mind, in his soul. Saint Patrick spent endless hours in prayer and contemplation and received from these inner activities the peace and solace that made his outer circumstances not just bearable, but productive.
No matter what your personal situation is, you are the master of your innermost thoughts, where creation begins, where your life finds its ultimate expression.
Rather than allowing those life annoyances to make you feel imprisoned or disempowered, you have the power to turn within and get control of your thoughts and feelings.
Make time in your daily life to nurture your soul. Devote even just a few minutes to meditation or contemplation.
Seek stillness and find your center. Enter that private space where no one can have any influence, and use those moments to rejuvenate, refresh and reconnect with your spirit.
2. Turn Adversity into Fuel for Transformation and Growth
Even the worst of situations can have silver linings that can transform, not only your life, but the lives of others you touch.
Saint Patrick did not allow slavery to stop him from discovering and achieving his life’s highest purpose. To the contrary, he used it to fuel his life’s purpose and achieve goals that he did not even fathom before his enslavement.
Take a close look at your life. What circumstances appear to imprison you or hold you back?
Contemplate these circumstances and ponder how a shift in attitude and action can transmute these seeming problems into opportunities for your personal development and most importantly, the highest good.
3. Follow Your Call with Passion and Against the Odds
After returning to Britain, Saint Patrick felt a call from God to go back to Ireland and become a missionary.
He heeded the call and returned to Ireland to share the message that had sustained him while in slavery, a mission with inherent dangers and possible martyrdom. Yet, he pursued this vision and fulfilled his mission with extraordinary zeal and success.
Most of us do not receive dramatic calls or see a billboard with our life purpose spelled out in bold letters.
So, are you willing to listen to your inner voice? It will reveal to you your mission and the steps necessary to take to accomplish it. It will show you the tools you need to make it happen.
Again, spend time in meditation and contemplation and tune in to your inner voice. What is it calling you to do?
Like Saint Patrick, you simply need to say YES, believe in your mission and devote yourself wholeheartedly into making it come to fruition.
Your success, as Saint Patrick’s, will be commensurate with the level of passion you dedicate to the task.
4. Tolerance is the Building Block of Peaceful Relationships
When Saint Patrick returned to Ireland for his ministry, Ireland was inhabited by people who, by Christian standards, were heathens and pagans. Yet, he did not attempt to convert them by force.
Instead, he studied their traditions, and sought the beauty of their beliefs and integrated them with the Catholic faith, giving birth to Celtic spirituality, a flavor of spirituality that combines the best of both worlds.
In my world, many friends have been seething in anger since November 2016. What a waste of two years!
Are you willing to discover the good of every person you encounter, instead of perceiving him or her as an adversary?
Train yourself to seek common ground with others and to build relationships based on shared beliefs and values. Avoid discussions into subjects that engender division and dissent.
Discipline yourself to politely end or walk away from conversations that are likely to go sour, jeopardize friendships and sever family ties.
I know I am not alone in this and I know you can do it! I am married to a man of a different religious denomination and completely opposite political beliefs. Yet I refuse to engage fruitless discussions that will bring us apart and could ruin my day or dampen my productivity.
Allow others to have their beliefs the same way you expect others to allow you to have yours. Pursue activities that you can do together that don’t involve arguments.
Do you enjoy hiking? Take a quiet walk in the woods with a friend. Sports? Work out a sweat together and melt out negative emotions. Strengthen the bond that emanates from open hearts and watch negativity dissolve.
5. Find Sustenance in Nature
As a slave in the mountains of Ireland, Saint Patrick derived comfort and peace from nature. So can you.
Nature is the ultimate source of creation and healing. Notice how nature continuously creates and renews itself—on a daily basis as well as when there is a natural disaster. Use that same power to heal to restore your body and soul.
Spend time in nature every day, even if it’s just a brief walk in the park. Take your shoes off and feel the sensations of your feet on the grass, soil or sand! Meditate outdoors and feel the wisdom of nature infuse you.
These are just five lessons I have unpacked from the amazing life of Ireland’s patron. I am sure you can draw even more inspiration of your own.
This Saint Patrick’s Day spend some time reflecting and acting on opportunities to transform your life.
Then enjoy your favorite green beer.