Today I’m thinking about purpose. Fuzzy at first, but as I get older, and in retrospect, I see it was always there. As a young adult, I looked at others. Many seemed happier, more confident, courageous, and more competent. I wanted what they had. It was obvious to me some had discovered the secret to happiness. I decided to find the magic formula too.
I discovered the first key: purpose upon with I was motivated to look deeper. I knew in my heart that I was on this earth for a reason, learning to be happy became that purpose. And now, at 66, mostly retired, after many books, support groups, therapy, relationships, seminars, TED talks, and trial and error, mistakes for sure, hurting others and being hurt, I feel like I figured it out. That doesn’t mean I always execute the plan successfully but I’m getting better.
Purpose seems to me to be the anchor. With conviction of purpose comes the willingness to be brave and risk failing. Risk embarrassment, risk losing the things most important to us, for something more important. This meant severing ties with people and situations, some of whom I loved but held me back, who preferred to keep me in a box.
Fast forward the next 50 years. Only now looking back is my purpose clarified.
- To overcome the false beliefs my culture and family taught me in the formative years. I was taught that I was not good enough, to not bother trying, that failure was imminent.
- In fact, the truth is, everyone has the potential to do awesome things, to be awesome. Some of us have to learn that for ourselves.
- I trained my self, reminded myself, regularly repeated a mantra of sorts, especially in the face of a challenge, “ I am awesome. Despite my imperfections and past mistakes and future failings, I am awesome and will be brave and move forward, step by step. I am the best man for the job.”
- Marianne Williamson says it best. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- With the benefit of hindsight, I now believe my purpose has been and will continue to be multifaceted.
- To love myself, and love others. One of the wonderful teachings of the Dalai Lama, something he says quite regularly, is “My religion is kindness.”
- Explore, have fun, feel deeply the joys and hurts that come with striving, play, lost love, compassion, and even hopelessness. Live large. No regrets.
- To laugh. A lot. With others. And to help them to laugh. My mind is twisted at times, possessing a warped sense of humor. As I’ve gotten older, I’m more willing to let those twisted play on words and crazy thoughts spill out. And I find I’m not alone. Others have them too. Not all are brave enough to let them spill out.
- Show up. Volunteer to help when I can. Be a witness. Be willing to do what others may not know how to do, or can’t bring themselves to do.
Simply put, my goal has been to live more of my life in categories 1-7 (see picture below) and less in 8-22. Most of the time, I’m there now. I lived the first half of my life oftentimes in the 8-22 categories.
We get to choose the categories we live by. Not instantly, not magical. More like a garden. A life that is cultivated with work, joy, risk, failures, resilience, and decisions. One foot in front of the other. My life experiences and choices, processing, have made this possible and I know it is possible for anyone.
I found the image below in a YouTube video. It can be watched here.