You are one special snowflake. No, seriously. Not a single other person on the planet —literally not one—has lived through exactly what you have. Nobody else thinks like you think or sees the world the way you do. Nobody has the precise combination of knowledge, skills, and experience that you have. You, incredible you, possess a certain set of superpowers that are uniquely yours. And how you use those powers is everything.
Your superpowers are what you have to offer to the world. They’re the unique combination of everything you’ve been through, everything you’ve learned, everything you’re good at, everything that makes your soul sing. They’re the source of your spark. The key to unlocking your potential. They’re what you’ll be remembered for after you go. That is, only if you know what they are and what to do with them.
Do you freak out at the thought of just paying bills for the next 40 years, while you count down to retirement so you can finally start enjoying life? Are you interested in thriving, instead of just surviving? Then you should probably figure out your superpowers and start activating them. Here are five ways to do it.
- Find time to connect with yourself. In our culture, busy is a badge of honor. We’re all out there hustling and grinding, just trying to keep up with the endless demands on our time and energy. Our to-do lists are as long as our CVS receipts, and any time we do slow down, it’s usually behind a screen. Listen, if you aren’t intentional about carving out some time for yourself, it’s super unlikely to happen. But if you’re at all interested in living your best life, it has to happen. To find your superpowers and take your life to the next level, you’ve got to slow down, tune in, and get quiet. You’ve got to make time for stillness in solitude. Because once you do, your inner voice will start speaking. And you’ll be there to hear it. Step one in activating your superpowers is carving out some time to be by yourself in a space that sparks inspiration. Once you’re there, ask yourself questions like: What lights me up? What’s the one message I want to share with the world? What wisdom have I gained through my experiences? What legacy do I want to leave behind? What am I here on this earth to do? Let the answers come to you, and let yourself receive them. You’re now that much closer to superhero status.
- Flow, baby, flow. Back in the 80s, a guy whose name I couldn’t pronounce if my life depended on it (It’s Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Give it a try) started doing research on a mental state he called flow. He stumbled upon the concept of flow while studying artists’ creative process and becoming fascinated by the trancelike state they go into while producing a work of art. Dr. C—you didn’t expect me to type all those letters again, did you?—discovered that the flow state isn’t just for artists and creative types; it’s something all of us can access. And, as it turns out, it’s chock full of goodies. Flow states help us do all sorts of powerful things, like clarify our goals, transcend our limiting beliefs, become fully present in the moment, lose our sense of self-consciousness, feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, sharpen our focus, and just generally feel amazing. Flow is a great place to hang out if you want to discover your superpowers. It gives you a chance to tap into the many layers of your being and shed your self-imposed imitations. It helps you find inspiration and create meaning. There are plenty of ways to access flow. You can dance, write, swim, stitch, create art, hike a trail, play an instrument, or bake a cake. You can flow outdoors or indoors, with people or alone. You can flow in your work or your craft. You can use it to discover the answers to your deepest questions. To find your heart’s calling and answer to it. Whatever you use flow for, and wherever you find it, trust that it will activate your powers in the process.
- Get back to where you once belonged. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the book Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson (you might know him for his other bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck). In it, he talks about the crisis of meaning that’s endemic in our culture. The way he puts it, a lot of our suffering and struggling happens because we lack a sense of meaning in our lives. We don’t feel connected to a larger purpose on a regular enough basis to feel inspired by it, so we get lost and spin our wheels and stay stuck in slumps. We go into same-sh*t-different-daymode, and our lives lack luster. This way of living inevitably causes suffering. It makes the hard stuff in life seem extra hard to deal with. It makes everything feel mundane and, well, meaningless. According to Mr. Manson, the way out of this trap is to create a sense of meaning by, essentially, finding your superpowers—my words, not his. And one of the ways to do this is to reconnect with things you love or used to love. Things you’re good at or used to be good at. Places you feel inspired and at home. Connecting with those parts of your life that make you feel most alive is a way of connecting with yourself in a deeper way, which is a way of connecting with a sense of meaning and purpose. When we root down in our uniqueness and find out what makes us come alive, we put ourselves in the space to stretch out into the fullness of our expression. We get closer to finding and fulfilling our potential. And life starts feeling way more vibrant. And everything feels like magic.
- Fish for feedback. At this point, I’ve worked with thousands of people and gotten a chance to hear what they think about themselves. And a lot of it ain’t pretty. Most of us, whether we like to admit it not, can be pretty awful to ourselves. We criticize ourselves constantly and read ourselves to filth for every transgression we make. And because we tend to see ourselves in a super distorted way, we assume that other people see us that way, too. But the reality is, they don’t. People see you differently from how you see yourself, because they aren’t stuck inside the stories that float around your head about your flaws and limitations. And for this reason, other people—the ones who know and love you best, in particular—can be really good sources of information to help you learn more about your superpowers. If you’re struggling to find your purpose or are ready to create a next level for your life, you’ll benefit from finding out what other people think makes you, you. Reach out to people who know you well and ask them to share what they see as your unique gifts. Ask them to tell you what you’re good at and what kinds of things make you special, even if it feels awkward or attention-seeking. You might find yourself tempted to swat away or minimize what they say. You might catch yourself fishing for compliments. Stop all of that! Let them say what they’re called to say and share whatever they genuinely perceive about you. Let yourself experience yourself through someone else’s eyes. Ask multiple people, and give them time to reflect and get back to you. Since the people closest to you get to watch you from a safe distance, far away from your self-limiting self-talk, what they see as your specialness counts for a lot.
- Reflect on your greatness. You’ve done a lot of remarkable things in your life, and you’ve probably forgotten about most of them. Because—if you’re like most people, at least—your mind’s been too occupied with what you haven’t done or what you have to do next. But taking stock of the things you’ve accomplished and the challenges you’ve overcome is a really important practice— especially if you aim to become the brightest, most alive, most inspired version of yourself. Take some time—it doesn’t have to happen all in one sitting—to reflect back on your past achievements and write them down, even if they seem small or insignificant. Write about what you did to make those things happen. Reflect on your biggest triumphs, and point out precisely what it is about you that made those things possible. By doing this, you’ll discover some interesting and incredible things about yourself. You might recognize that your unique stamp has been on everything in your life. From the hurdles you’ve cleared to the goals you’ve reached, everything you’ve made happen in your life reflects the unmatched brilliance that is you. Those superpowers of yours have been within you all along.
TL;DR? Here’s the quick and dirty on how to discover your superpowers:
- Spend some solo time connecting inward and learning about what makes you tick.
- Find ways to access the flow state positive psychologists are raving about.
- Reconnect with activities that once inspired you, to remember what that feels like.
- Ask the people who know you best to share what they think makes you, you.
- Think back on your achievements, great and small, and how you made them happen.