Expoloring Your Life’s Purpose

Have you struggled to find your life purpose, why you are here? The idea that life has personally purpose is not dedicated to only a chosen few and it does not necessarily equate with your daily job. Everyone is special in some way or many ways, everyone has merit, and everyone has purpose – yes even and especially you. In the words of a dear friend, “the beautiful light inside of you is meant to be a beacon of hope to others. You are here for a very important reason.”

A study conducted among adults over the age of 50 living in the UK found that the factor most closely tied to authentic happiness is a person’s belief that their life has purpose. Living a life of purpose provides fundamental life presence and authenticity which leads to less anxiety about the direction of life. That feeling that your life has purpose has the ability to provide resilience and the motivation to move forward, because it’s a calling. Who can resist a calling?

Your life purpose may be simple or complex. It can be specific or broad. There are those that believe purpose is related passion, that thing that moves your heart strings. Here is an exercise that you might find helpful to determine your life purpose. The more open you are to this process, the more successful you will be at getting a result and the less time it will take to achieve that result. Pray for guidance before you begin.

Finding your life purpose in 20 minutes:

  1. Find a blank sheet of paper or open an electronic document where you can type.
  2. Write at the top: What is my true purpose in life?
  3. Then write an answer, any answer that pops into your head. It doesn’t even have to be a complete sentence, just write something. A short phrase is fine.
  4. Now simply continue repeating step 3, writing more things, until what you write makes you cry. It could take many pages to get there, yet continue to this end.

The idea is that when you are overcome with emotion, with passion, you’ve found it. To some people this exercise will make sense, to others it may appear trivial. Sometimes it’s best not to analyze too much and just go for it. If you persist, you will find an answer that moves your heart. As you progress, some answers may be similar seem repeated. That’s fine. After 50 or 100 answers, you may get distracted, want to give up, or may even get aggravated. Push past these feeling and continue on. You may feel emotion about certain answers, yet they may not bring tears. Keep track of those. Put a star by them because they may be a link to the final answer. Try to do this exercise alone and in a quiet environment. If you find that your mind is not in the right place to begin, put the paper away for a later time when your heart is open it.

A potential final answer might be, “to live consciously and courageously a life of compassion to awaken a great spirit within others, to leave the world a better place.” This could be considered a broad purpose. How might someone make this happen?

After about 20 minutes, this is what I arrived at: “to live authentically, capturing the essence and beauty of life, spreading the loveliest parts of it to those I encounter, thereby bringing to them peace, love, and understanding.” Sounds good right? I arrived at what seems a beautiful life mission, but even so, there were no tears. Is this my life purpose or what I want to be my life purpose?

The epiphany came a few weeks later when a major breakthrough occurred. As I sat with my coffee early one morning, I opened my laptop and read the introduction to a book I was writing. Upon reading the last sentence, not only were there tears, it made me sob. That was it. My purpose is to write for you. The exercise opened the door to the awakening. Thank you for taking part in my passion and life purpose. Now it’s your turn to give it a try, to explore your life purpose.

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” ~Bishop T.D. Jakes

Thought Awareness

Your thinking and how you analyze the world around you has evolved, mostly unconsciously, over your lifetime. Your training and experiences have shaped your worldview and because no two people experience the same life, how you think is distinct to you. This is a good reason not to be judgmental of others; you have not lived the same experiences as they have. Their belief system, and yours, will be unique to personal experience.

The average person has up to 60,000 thoughts per day and according to research conducted by the National Science Foundation, 80% of those thoughts could be negative and 95% repetitive. Most people don’t monitor their thoughts in an effort to improved them. If we are not diligent with our thinking, thoughts can easily run amuck, especially when they are habitual. It’s hard to stop a snowball rolling downhill and when you continue to think those habitually negative thoughts long enough, they become a belief.

In order to break the cycle of the negative monkey mind, you must be diligent with identifying those thoughts. You need to basically stalk yourself. Pay attention to the thoughts you think and begin to question the origin, i.e., “where did that thought come from?” Ask yourself if your beliefs are justified and valid. Keep a journal. I have a friend whose father has always been very consistent about telling her how stupid she is. As she began to accept it, the thought became part of her subconscious mind. It soon grew to become a belief, a very harmful belief that is absolutely not true. So every time she tells herself how stupid she is, she needs to correct herself saying something like, “that untrue thought came from my dad. I am smart about many things.” So keep in mind that the negative thoughts you think might not have originated from you but from someone else that has influenced you, and the sooner that you replace those thoughts with a positive thought, the better.

Although thoughts, as well as the stalking of thoughts, can be painful. The practice can teach you a great many things about yourself and those around you. Growth requires self-examination. “Even though you may not actually like the feelings of inner disturbance that may come from asking key questions, you must be able to sit quietly with yourself and face them if you want to see where they come from. Once you can face your disturbances, you will realize that there may be a layer of pain seated deep in the core of your heart. This pain is so uncomfortable, so challenging, and so destructive to the individual self, that your entire life has been spent trying to avoid it. Your entire personality is built upon ways of being, thinking, acting, and believing that were developed to avoid pain. Real growth takes place when you finally decide to deal with the pain.” From The Tethered Soul by Michael A. Singer.

Exercise: Bounce technique

When experiencing a negative thought, bounce it away with a positive thought instead. Simply replace the thought with a better feeling thought. Draw a line down the center of a tablet or piece of paper, creating two columns. When you catch yourself having a negative thought, write it in the left column. Then draw an arrow leading to the right column and re-write the statement in a positive version. This will assist you in shifting your thoughts. Whenever you catch yourself in the left column, replace the thought with the right column. For example:

Words are a byproduct of our thoughts, and words, in themselves, hold a great deal of power. Pay attention to the words you use and how you use them. Never allow yourself to speak unkindly to yourself or about yourself. You may think Self-deprecation to be funny, but is it really? In reality, it’s a way of reprimanding yourself by belittling, undervaluing, or disparaging your identity. Doing so does not honor you. As they say, to thine own self be true. There is nothing in this world that can trouble you as much as your own thoughts. To be in joy, you need to accept yourself in a loving manner. Choose your words carefully and not just when speaking about yourself, but also when speaking about others. It could be said that we receive in return that which we choose to put out into the world, so choose your words and thoughts wisely.

Even so, the seas of life will surely rock your boat at times, but you can choose your response to the storms. You are not the bad feelings nor thoughts that you get in your head. You are not the storms you walk through. You are the person experiencing the storm. The storm may knock you off your feet, but you are strong. You will rise again. Either the weather will change, you will find shelter, or you will look the storm in the eye with resilience and fortitude, because you know that storm cannot hold you back indefinitely. When you can keep a healthy perspective, your wrath exceeds that of any storm, so be mindful of your thoughts and choose wisely.

“No thought lives in your head rent-free. Each thought you have will either be an investment or a cost.” ~ T. Harv Eker

What Are You Thinking?: The Art of Discernment

Many years ago, I was taking evening classes which required a 90-minute commute. Class usually ended at 9 PM, then I would make my way to the interstate and try to wind down during the drive south. One particular evening, I was forced to make a ‘split second decision,’ a decision that could seriously affect the life of a stranger and/or myself.

I found myself in the passing lane behind another car. We were both passing a semi-truck, the other car was located near the front, and me near (adjacent) to the back of the truck. The road was curving to the right with a slight incline, so there wasn’t much ‘line of sight.’ My best recollection would place our speed at approximately 70 mph when the car in front of me locked up the brakes. I had a split second to make a decision. I could swerve into the right lane and hit the truck, I could swerve left into the median, or I could rear-end the car in front of me. Option 1 didn’t seem like much of an option. I would likely lose my life. Option 2 was viable, however, I had no idea why the car was breaking so suddenly. Could there be something or someone in the median? If so, I could potential injure others or even take their life. That would be a hard pill to swallow. With option 3, there was the possibility of injuring the driver in front of me and even myself. All these possibilities flashed before my consciousness in about a second.

Discernment is the art or ability to choose or judge well. The ability to discern well, can have a tremendous impact on the results of any event or situation. So, how does someone achieve good discernment?  

The first step might lie in the understanding of truth. When a person has a good understanding of right from wrong, good from bad, they are able to place a healthy contrast to any situation. Another avenue to healthy discernment might be found via failure. When we make bad decisions, they provide vast opportunity for self-awareness and wisdom. So in that respect, a bad decision is not a failure at all, but an opportunity for future personal growth. The art of discernment may grow over time, as we experience the magical aspects of life and how situations unfold. Over time, we can develop a keen sense of awareness and respect for the power in our choices.

We should always seek to make good choices with the assistance of healthy discernment. Some tips for choosing well include consideration of the following:

-Choosing the right choice over the easy choice

-Choosing others before self

-Choosing love over any negative emotion

-Choosing quality over quantity

-Choosing quality over cost

-Choosing only after adequate research

Our experiences help to provide the catalyst to mold our perspectives and enable the cultivation of healthy discernment. We make hundreds, if not thousands of choices each and every day. We can live a better, more fulfilled life by taking personal responsibility for our own decisions. This may require time and introspection. Hopefully, you will always have adequate time to make your decisions, including the time to change your mind if appropriate.

In case you are wondering, in my featured scenario, I chose option 3, to remain in my lane, come what may. The decision left me stranded, my car totaled, but me in one piece. I was not injured nor the car or driver that initiated my sudden response. There was indeed much in the median. A tow truck, two cars, and a sheriff deputy on foot. I will never know why flares or warnings were not posted. What I do know is that I made the best choice that I could, given the circumstances, and my discernment played a key role in making that decision.