10 Songs To Help You Find & Fulfill Your Calling
Lissa Rankin, M.D., is the New York Times bestselling author of "Mind Over Medicine," "The Fear Cure," and "The Anatomy of a Calling." She is a physician, speaker, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, and mystic. Lissa has starred in two National Public Television specials and also leads workshops, both online and at retreat centers like Esalen and Kripalu
Waking up to your calling can be unsettling, so why not create a playlist of songs that will lift you up along the way? In my book The Anatomy of a Calling, I use Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” as a road map for those who are in the process of finding and fulfilling their calling.
Your hero’s journey will likely drag you through pits of despair, forge you through fits of frustration, lift you to peaks of triumph, and burst you into ecstasy. These songs will help you navigate the whole shebang.
1. To Be What You Must — Yusuf Islam
With lyrics like, “To be what you must, you must give up what you are,” the former Cat Stevens reminds you that a hero’s journey requires a death and rebirth. In order to be resurrected into your calling, you’ll have to grieve and let go of who you’ve been until now.
2. Unwritten — Natasha Bedingfield
Your hero’s journey is an unwritten adventure story. All you have to do is say YES when the Call to Adventure arrives. “Drench yourself in words unspoken/Live your life with arms wide open/Today is where your book begins/The rest is still unwritten.” Oh yeah, baby.
3. Life’s for the Living — Passenger
When my father was diagnosed with a brain tumor 10 years ago, the doctors gave him three months to live. He was only 59. At the time, I had to ask myself, “If I knew I had only three months left to live, would I be living the life I’m living now?" My answer was a resounding, “Hell no.” Fear and the desire for comfort were running my life, so I was half-dead already. That’s what sparked my own journey to finding and fulfilling my calling. “Don't you cry for the lost/Smile for the living/Get what you need and give what you're given/Life's for the living so live it/Or you're better off dead.”
4. Defying Gravity — Glee
Through your journey, the laws of physics and culture will threaten to drag you down, but if you listen to the quiet still voice within, you’ll likely hear the call of something larger drawing you into sacred service. You may have to break some rules, but if you can muster up the moxie to do so, magic is likely to follow. “Something has changed within me/Something is not the same/I'm through with playing by the rules/Of someone else's game/Too late for second-guessing/Too late to go back to sleep/It's time to trust my instincts/Close my eyes and leap!”
5. Do or Die — Thirty Seconds to Mars
When I’m asked to do something risky on my own hero’s journey, this song is my courage-booster. “In the middle of the night/When the angels scream/I don't want to live a lie that I believe/Time to do or die.”
5. Love Is Letting Go of Fear — Olivia Newton John
Dark nights of the soul are par for the course on a hero’s journey, so it helps to have lullabies to comfort you through the long nights when faith wanes and doubt sets in. “Remember ... the wounded bird still sings/Remember ... that faith has tiny wings.”
6. Heroes — Alesso
Your calling doesn’t have to be grand. You don’t have to write a book, give a TED Talk, or start a nonprofit — it’s enough to simply choose to practice love and compassion in the world. But if you’re one of those people who feels a more grand calling, this song is for you. “Everyday people do everyday things/But I can't be one of them.”
7. Servant of Peace — Snatam Kaur
You have to at least listen to the part of this song where Snatam Kaur, sounding like an angel from the heavens, recaps St. Francis’s prayer. “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace/Where there is hatred, let me sow love/Where there is injury, pardon/Where there is doubt, faith/Where there is despair, hope/Where there is darkness, light/Where there is sadness, joy/O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console/To be understood, as to understand/To be loved, as to love/For it is in giving that we receive/It is in pardoning that we are pardoned/And it is in dying that we are born into Eternal Life.” Oh my … I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.
8. Live Like You Were Dying — Tim McGraw
In The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche updates The Tibetan Book of the Dead to teach us how to live like we were dying. Tim McGraw should write the book’s soundtrack! “Like tomorrow was a gift and you've got eternity/To think about what you do with it/What could you do with it/I went sky divin'/I went rocky mountain climbin'/I went 2.7 seconds on a bull name Fumanchu/And I loved deeper/And I spoke sweeter/And I gave forgiveness I've been denying/And he said someday I hope you get the chance/To live like you were dyin'.” Now that sounds like saying YES to life.
9. All Is Well — Karen Drucker
Along your hero's journey, you can expect to meet friends and allies along with people who will try to hold you back. You will hit roadblocks that trip you up but also mentors who help you create miracles. The ups and downs of the journey — The Road of Trials — can make you weary if you’re not expecting them. But Karen Drucker’s chant always comforts me when I’m trekking through the rough patches. “All is well/I can rest/I am safe/All is well.” This mantra gives me the courage to allow my journey to unfold.
10. Imagine — John Lennon
This is the ultimate visionary theme song of Oneness. “Imagine no possessions/I wonder if you can/No need for greed or hunger/A brotherhood of man/Imagine all the people/Sharing all the world...” Om …
Itching for some more tunes to inspire you today? Look no further: