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headshot of Jamie Martin, editor in chief of Experience Life magazine

At first glance, “Listen and Learn” might seem like an obvious theme for a fall issue of a magazine: With kids heading back to school, it’s go-to advice for engaging in the education they’re about to receive. It might even bring back memories from our own school days and those regular reminders to “pay attention” and “stay focused” — still as valid as ever in this age of distraction.

In the context of this issue, however, it’s more about turning inward and tuning in to our desires and passions, our questions and doubts, and all of our emotions. As we begin to transition into this season of reflection and introspection, we have the opportunity to slow down and notice how we’re feeling — physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually.

We have the chance to assess what’s bringing us true joy or discomfort, what really feels right and what feels just plain wrong. We can question the expectations and assumptions put on us by society and ourselves.

When we begin to listen to that inner voice, we just might learn a thing or two that opens us up to living more fully, or what clinical psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Shefali refers to as being more “awakened.” In her cover profile, she describes the ways in which we often sacrifice our own well-being for the benefit of others — and suggests that attuning to our own wants and needs actually benefits everyone in the long run. When we do this, Dr. Shefali explains, we can live more purposefully, more intentionally, and more authentically.

In “Complete the Stress Cycle”, writer, researcher, and health educator Emily Nagoski, PhD, similarly describes the phenomenon of Human Giver Syndrome, the tendency to tend to others to our own detriment. Nagoski notes that getting real about all we’re carrying — and realizing we don’t have to bear it alone — can actually free us to constructively deal with stress and enjoy greater satisfaction in the day-to-day.

“When we’re ready to notice and deeply listen to those insights from within, we’ll discover there’s a whole lot of possibility — for change, for joy, for a life we truly love.”

An inspiring example of someone connecting to her purpose is Kemma Cunningham, a group fitness performer at Life Time in Bridgewater, N.J. In a recent episode of Life Time Talks, the healthy-living podcast that I cohost, Cunningham shared how discovering a love for dance helped her navigate a challenging time in her early 40s, and ultimately led her to a fitness career in which she gets to share that passion every day.

Now, as she leads a variety of in-person and virtual classes, Cunningham motivates a growing community to believe in themselves and pursue their ambitions, too. “I believe your purpose is in your genetic code and excitement is what activates it,” she told my cohost, David Freeman, and me during our conversation. “My favorite poet says, ‘Respond to every call that excites your spirit.’ When I found what excited me, that got me out of a place of feeling defeated.” (Listen to the full episode.)

For some, those calls may be feelings of excitement; for others, a sense that there’s something more or that something’s missing; still others may notice peace or have a flash of inspiration. When we’re ready to notice and deeply listen to those insights from within, we’ll discover there’s a whole lot of possibility — for change, for joy, for a life we truly love.

Jamie Martin

Jamie Martin is the is Experience Life’s editor in chief. Follow her on Instagram @jamiemartinel.

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