There is so much still being tossed around on how to find your purpose, how to create your ideal work to fulfill your purpose, etc. I have to admit that I used to get caught up in this too and agonize about it.
… I knew what my life purpose is, I’d be happier,
… I could figure out my purpose, I’d know what direction to go in,
… I’d know what career I'm “supposed to do”,
… everything would flow smoothly in life.
Somewhere along the way, I realized my mistake. I began to tune everyone else out and let the struggle go.
I began to pay attention to the stillness between the “stuff”. And I realized that the purpose for every one of us is so individual and unique – and yet EXACTLY THE SAME. It’s not so much about the specifics of what we do, but rather about who we are while we’re doing whatever it is we all do.
We come into this world as a very distinct being. Then life, with its complexities of messaging, circumstances, interrelationships, and everyone around us dealing with their own stuff, gives us all sorts of ideas of who and how we need to be. And so the layers of persona start to form over the true version of ourselves. Some of us get so buried in the layers that the true self, our essence, is all but lost.
Your life purpose, and mine, and everyone’s, is to find our way back to our essence. Back to where we began but forgot along the way.
So how do we peel off the layers we’ve accumulated over the years and get back to our essence? If you’ve done a good job of disconnecting (been there, done that) it will take some practice.
- We are most ourselves when we are feeling joyful. So what brings you real joy? Find what works for you, it doesn’t have to be big. In fact, women most often tell me that it’s the little things that really bring them joy: flowers, music, taking time for laughter and play, a particular colour or sound, a particular place (even a picture of that place), … Set yourself up to experience joy daily.
- Bring yourself back to the present. We spend a lot of time in the past or future, or both, but we can experience ourselves most fully in the relative quiet of the present moment. Incidentally, ever notice when you are feeling joyful you’re focused entirely on the present experience? When thoughts pull you elsewhere, gently let them go, notice your surroundings, then notice how your body feels – any tension, or discomfort, and your breathing – slow it down and start to breathe more deeply.
- Now, what do you WANT – and I mean deep down – and how does that differ from the mental chatter that was going on in your head before?
The two main questions that I hear come up are:
Okay, but what am I “supposed to” do?
It doesn’t matter if you’re working/volunteering for an incredibly worthy cause, or if you’re doing the most menial of jobs, or if you’re a stockbroker, if you are BEING your essence, the truest form of yourself that you can be. I do believe, though, that you are far more able to find what you are most suited to do when you are actually living true to yourself, day to day, as you will be far more likely to notice the opportunities and act upon them.
Won’t I become really selfish if it’s all about me?
Actually, I believe the opposite happens. The range of selfishness, unkindness, and exclusion right up to intolerance, violence, and the like all occur when people have become so disconnected with themselves that they've strayed far from their essence.
Sure, at times staying true to yourself is bound to ruffle some feathers, but that’s more about triggering the other person’s lack of truth to themselves, or their fear that you will leave them behind, than it is about your behaviour, as long as you really are coming from a place of truth. When you really start to get closer to your essence, you are more loving, more compassionate, and better able to recognize the essence in others. Including yourself in receiving your kindness and compassion is never selfish.
Finally, for you moms out there, think of your children: they are most likely to treat themselves the way that they have seen you treat yourself. What do you want that to look like?
So, keep up this practice of joy, presence, and checking in with how you feel and what you truly want: again and again, and again! Anytime you think about it, anytime you are starting to feel stress, anytime you need to make a decision.
This will bring you closer and closer to your essence, and any action you take from that place will be fulfilling your purpose.
PS This will increase your energy too. Hiding from yourself and from the world takes a lot of tiring internal effort!
(photo credit: Tom Ezzatkhah)