Discovering Ourselves – Why is Self-fulfillment Important?

This past week I had the amazing opportunity to run a joint self-fulfillment workshop and culinary masterclass to a group of students and young professionals part of Aish HaTorah.

Speaking to an incredible group of young professionals. Thank you to all attendees for your overwhelming support!
It was thrilling getting to lead a baking masterclass after the talk. Somewhat a simultaneous play on words and on the pallet to follow a self-fulfillment class on a sweet note.

Giving a class to these incredible individuals on such a critical topic was truly an exhilarating experience. In a culture where social media plays an exponentially increasing influential role, comparison to other people and their lives can lead to feelings of unfulfillment and allows self-doubt to take over.

What is self-fulfillment?

Self-fulfillment stems from finding a balance, neither mania or depression, but rather a grounded state where we are comfortable with who we are, accepting ourselves, our strengths, as well as recognize our opportunities to improve. When we are fulfilled we set realistic goals that are important to us, celebrating our accomplishments while being able to give ourselves critique to assist self-growth.

So how do we reach fulfillment?

The task to reach self-fulfillment is not a simple one – it does not actualize overnight.  There are several categories that one must address:

  1. A lifetime VS. a snippet

Everything in our life must end, and to each individual, there is only one thing that is eternal; ourselves. Everyone else that enters our life is temporary, and whether it is a long temporary or a short one, their presence in our lives must one day cease (this too shall pass). If everyone who enters our lives is temporary, why would we not always value the eternal opinion? Everything must end, but our relationship with ourselves is permanent. For this reason, I believe that it is crucial for us to put our own opinion of ourselves above all others. 

2. Speaking to ourselves or speaking to a loved one; what’s the difference?

It seems almost ingrained in some individuals to speak much more critically to ourselves than to those we care about. Is this not an urgent issue that we must address? If we are spending our lifetimes with ourselves, wouldn’t we want to speak in the most supportive, understanding, and motivational way in order to accomplish the greatness we are capable of? When we speak to ourselves, the tone we use directly correlates to our opinion of ourselves and subsequently what we believe we can accomplish. If we desire to reach our goals, it is essential to believe in ourselves and our abilities to reach them. Therefore, we must learn to speak with ourselves the way we would with a good friend or loved one; with support, understanding, and patience. Self-fulfillment means that we increase our positive affirmations and daily gratitudes while avoiding self-devaluation, negative self-thoughts, or settling for less. 

3. Progress

We differ from artificial intelligence because we take the time to learn or finish tasks, it’s what makes us human. Every journey and task that we embark on requires a certain level of time and effort that varies by difficulty. When setting goals, we are eager to see instant results. It is essential to remember that we are en route to success and that it comes in parts. Success rarely comes altogether; Rome wasn’t built overnight. It can be easy to give up in the middle or just prior to accomplishing our goals. Self-fulfillment comes when we are able to accept that progress can differ throughout stages. Whether rapid or slow, progress means that we are on track and we must celebrate our accomplishments at different stages. We must avoid delegitimizing or invalidating our progress because we compare ourselves to others who seemingly display faster or greater progress. Comparison is the root of feelings of inadequacy and allows the intruder effect to take over, responsible for making us feel like we don’t belong or underqualified. We are fulfilled when we are aware that our progress is valid and leading us to our goals, and when we can give ourselves positive feedback to ensure or increase future progress, without comparing it to anyone else but ourselves.

4. Actions and goals

We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. Just as it is important to be proud of our accomplishments and strive towards our goal, it is equally important to remember that other people are also on a journey, and many haven’t reached their peak just yet. While we consider our own reasoning and purpose for certain actions, we often take note of the direct actions of others without concern for their venture. Proper self-critique and an understanding, empathetic, outlook can guide us on becoming the best version of ourselves while assisting others to reach their version of self-actualization. We are a pack animal; we yearn for the support from others. The saying “don’t look into someone else’s bowl unless you are checking if they have enough” goes both ways; don’t look to compare your life to theirs. The success they have reached or accomplishments they have fulfilled came with consequences, difficulties, struggles, and work that we may be completely unaware of. We are also on the way to success just as they once were. Similarly, we must be empathetic and supportive of them and their journey. If they are not as successful or accomplished as we believe they should be, we once again must acknowledge that everyone is going through an intensive journey, and we may not be aware of the struggles they have faced. Providing understanding, empathy, and support will assist them with reaching the greatness that they are capable of. It is important to keep in mind the difficulties others go through and to never assume or judge to conclusions on the abilities or disabilities someone has. It is also not our place to determine this for someone else. Self-fulfillment comes when we focus on being the best version of ourselves while supporting others on their personal path.  

Self-fulfillment allows us to reach and surpass our goals and dreams. You deserve fulfillment. Everyone is on a unique path, and changing our inner voice to one that is supportive and encouraging can propel us to our goals.

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The Joy of Aging Fundraising Brunch & Defining Success

Top Row (Right to left) features Dr. Karine Rashkovsky (Founder, Director, and lead instructor at Brain Power Enrichment Programs) alongside Natasha Tolub (Director of Richmond Hill Art School, Co-Founder of Hi-Lo bites)

Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Joy of Aging Fundraising Brunch. Hosted at the Bellevue manor, the Joy of Aging 2019 raised proceeds for the Mackenzie Health Foundation funding the new DASA program (domestic abuse and sexual assault care center). This unit will have a specialized team of healthcare providers and social workers to aid women, men, and children that experienced domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, or abuse. 

The Mackenzie Health Foundation, established in 1977, is now working on the construction of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital with an expected completion date before 2021

With phenomenal speakers discussing the genetics of aging, reversing aging through telomere extension, and how to keep your skin younger longer alongside incredible booths, services, and sponsors this event was astounding. Concluding with a fashion show, the fundraiser brought together a multitude of remarkable female leaders together to learn about skin health and raise money for an important cause. Through creating ground-breaking impact by conduction revolutionary research, owning and running thriving businesses, alongside creating monumental change and impact in a variety of fields, the hall was full of ultra-impressive role models and mentors. Going to this event truly opened my eyes to the variety of career options and pathways one can take to achieve success.

Success is such a delicate word, and it has always fascinated me just how subjective its definition is. Ask 100 people, and you will get 100 different interpretations. Ranging from fiscal stability to academic mastery, a large healthy family or the ability to travel the world, the definition of success is entirely based upon one’s values.  

After being in a room full of highly motivated, driven, and impactful individuals, I recognized that the opportunity to continue learning and to gain insight on topics both within and separate from my major are what drive me towards success. To me, success is implementing what I learn to create progressive change and a positive impact on the communities, society, and the world I live in. By having exposure to and the ability to talk with such esteemed female leaders, I gained insight into how I personally can reach success and make influential contributions.

Alongside with being relative from person to person, the meaning of success to us as individuals heavily depends on time. A few years ago, I was just commencing my undergraduate degree and success to me meant doing well in my courses and multitasking school with work and extracurriculars. Now that I have finished my BSc, my interpretation of success has shifted to finding a way in which I can implement meaningful change either within or separate from my field of study. As time passes, we either reach or miss our goals causing us to modify our definition of success. We sometimes see accomplished and well-regarded individuals who view themselves far from success because each time they reach their goal, the new definition of success sets the bar higher. We want higher pay, increased vacation time, a better car. This can in turn fog up our view of how far we have come from our first definition of success, and we forget how much impact we have already established. 

It is important to recognize our past successes and accomplishments because it pushes us to strive for more. Setting the bar higher is essential to creating greater impact, to make positive change. Despite all this, it is essential to stay aware of the successes we have reached so that we can recognize the greatness we are capable of. Ensuring that you have positive role models and mentors, along with being certain in your abilities and recognizing the past successes that led us to where we are now aids us in achieving major novel innovation and breakthroughs. We are capable of whatever we accept as possible and the only limit to our achievements, and essentially our success, is ourselves.

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5 Things I Learned From Writing and Defending my Honors Thesis

I did it! I wrote and defended my Honours Biology Thesis. After a year of conducting literature reviews, planning my experimental design, running my experiment, laboratory procedures to analyze my samples, and learning SPSS to analyze my stats, I composed a thesis encompassing all of my work. This past year, I learned a lot from my research. Here are the top 5 things that this thesis taught me:

  1. Figure out your research question

This might seem really common sense, but knowing what you are attempting to discover or research is substantially more difficult than it seems. My thesis was on restoring native plants in the Californian deserts which are invaded by an exotic species. So initially I wondered “how do I save these natives from this invasive?”. This question is too broad. You need to pinpoint what it is exactly you are looking for – in other words, what is the relationship you aim to examine? Ultimately, my thesis question ended up examining if there are certain densities of these natives that can outcompete the exotic species by suppressing its competitive capacity. This was the primary question. Whether the natives can suppress the exotic, done, period. There will be other factors, other relationships to note, but first and foremost you need to determine your main inquiry and report these findings.

2. Know the difference between complicated and complex

Writing a thesis or conducting research is not easy. It is a long and strenuous process. Every single part of my experiment was based on the multitude of papers I read during my literature review, from the size of the pots I was using to the number of seeds I used per cm². This work is not easy, but it’s not complicated. Complicated suggests that this topic cannot be understood or explained to other people outside of this field. Complex means that there are many components, but ultimately it can be described to someone outside of your field (sharing knowledge among fields is always fantastic).

3. Set yourself time budgets

Writing takes time. Research takes time. Make sure that you are on top of your work. It might seem like you suddenly have a lot of time before the due date, but this is the time you take to conduct more literature reviews, analyze your stats, and start writing. Editing can take you weeks. This is not a high school lab report, you can’t do this the night before it’s due. You may think you are done and when the edits come back, you might have to rewrite large amounts of your report. Make sure to stay on track with your time budgets. Give yourself reasonable amounts of time to finish tasks.

4. Confidence brings success

Going to your defense is a high-stress situation. You need to be able to present your work and answer inquiries on it. It is at this moment that it is most important for you to bring self-confidence. Your stance, intonation, body language, and facial expression all show whether you are confident in not only yourself but in your work. It took me a long time to get to the level of self-confidence and self-fulfillment of where I am now, but it is essential to work on valuing yourself and your abilities so that it shows when you speak. If you believe in yourself, it makes it easier for others to also believe in you.

5. Know that your thesis and academic success is not your entire worth

It can be absolutely nerve-wracking writing a thesis, and when things go wrong (which sometimes they do!) it can be challenging to continue, persevere, and believe in yourself. It is exceptionally easy to feel like your GPA or the research you conduct describes how successful of a person you are, and let me tell you this is not the case. Some of the most well-read and knowledgable individuals do not see their families, do not contribute to their communities, and spend their lives isolated. To me, this is not success. Success to me is developing self-fulfillment from the vast array of relationships we have in our everyday lives along with assisting others with their journies. While writing my thesis I had immense help from every single person in my lab, from my supervisor, from my partner, from my friends, and from my family. I had people help me with my thesis in ways that would not benefit them but made my thesis so much better. I was supported along the way, and without these people, I would not have been able to write this thesis. You are not alone and can get help from others during your research. The academic community is filled with extraordinary individuals and reaching out for help is not embarrassing or shameful. At the end of the day, it is important to remember that if things aren’t going well, you can consult with others, rework your ideas, or take a breather but to not give up. The people who succeed are not people who never fail, they are people who have failed hundreds of times but kept going despite the roadblocks.

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