Double exposure of girl and autumn landscape


The Universe is talking to us all the time; it’s up to us to listen.

We all have signals in our life that let us know something is not quite right—signals that we should acknowledge and on which we should act.

These signals include how we feel, physically and emotionally. They also include how people react to us or the state of our relationships, how we spend our time, our energy level, and our ability to focus. Each of these can say a lot about the state of our lives.

Do we pay attention to these signals? Do we even know what they are?

The first step in interpreting our signals is to identify them—recognize those red flags in our lives for what they are and how they can let us know when something is wrong.

The most obvious one might be the state of our health and the way it manifests in our energy level and our ability to concentrate and focus. When these deteriorate, it may be an indicator that something else is awry.

When we’re sick, all of our faculties suffer. We want to sleep all the time, we can’t concentrate, and we don’t want to talk to anyone. But these instances are the most obvious examples of effects that sometimes can be a lot more subtle.

In the modern world, it’s astonishing what we learn to ignore. With the cacophony of stimuli we face every day, it’s very easy to lower our filters to such a level that only the most obvious cues enter into our consciousness. Learning to pay attention to small changes in the way we feel can help us maintain our health and keep the foundations of our lives intact and sound.

We all have bad days. We wake up in a bad mood, not feeling quite right, with low energy. We might chalk it up to insomnia, too much to drink, or a full moon, but these are simplifications. These feelings are signals. They are trying to tell us something, and it’s our job to figure out what.

When our bodies and minds are in harmony, are properly fueled, and are exercised, we should not have that many bad health days. When we do, we should be able to understand why. Analyzing our signals, we can make adjustments. Our adjustments might be something easy, like eating healthier or getting more sleep, or they might be very difficult, like getting a different job to reduce our stress. Our signals may let us know about a more serious health issue. But no matter the cause, we should recognize and be able to respond appropriately. If we do, then we are making our choices with our eyes wide open.

Our emotional health is every bit as critical as, and has a strong link to, our physical health. There are, of course, many factors that can affect our emotional and physical health that go beyond lifestyle red flags, and we should never take chronic or extreme symptoms lightly; we should always get the care we need.

However, we should also monitor and examine our emotions carefully for what they can tell us about our lifestyle. For example, if you are normally cheerful (or at least pleasant) and find yourself being short with people, or lashing out, it might be a sign of something deeper. If we can keep in touch with who we are at any given time, with practice, we can recognize these signals early and possibly address the underlying cause more quickly.

The state of our life balance can also be a significant signal (see “Busy”). For example, do we have the time and energy to do the things that make us happy, the things that give us contentment and joy, and the things that feed our soul and make life worth living?

For example, I love my job. It has everything I could want in a job, including a positive impact, intellectual stimulation, interaction with interesting people, compensation—everything.  But if I let it, my job could become my whole life; and there are many other facets of my life that are equally or more important.

When I don’t find sufficient time for those things, it is a critical signal to me that my life is out of balance. I take those signals seriously. I can’t always make immediate adjustments, but I try to recognize those signs quickly, so that I can be thinking about adjustments and make them when I can.

It can be very easy for us to go on autopilot, to remain in denial in the face of our red flags—to do nothing until the situation is critical. It is much healthier and ultimately much easier to acknowledge those lifestyle signals early and make small adjustments as needed rather than wait until a huge, life-altering change is needed.

It is easier to make a sculpture with a fine chisel than with a sledge hammer. Our lives are works of art; we should make sure we treat it that way.

Whether we realize it or not, we are getting constant information and feedback. Unless we recognize it, see it for what it is, and act on it, that information is wasted.

With open ears and an open mind we can hear and understand what the universe is trying to tell us.

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