How to Live a Life of Purpose
Everyone wants to live a life of purpose. But what does that actually mean?
And more importantly, what does finding your purpose mean to YOU?
We live in a world that is bulging at the seams with social enterprises, start-ups, entrepreneurs, go-getters, and achievers. A world where the rat race has morphed into an F-1 cyber circuit of “do-ers.”
We are flooded with stories about all those people “out-there” who is doing something amazing with their lives.
These inspirational stories from across the globe enter into our field of awareness and balance out the tragic and cruel events often featured in the news.
And we want to be a part of that positive wave, too! We want to make a difference. We want our lives to have a bigger context and meaning.
We want to know what our own purpose is.
But why do we think we have only one Big Purpose?
This is thought is actually where we get stuck — trying to find that one thing we’re here to do.
We are such complex creatures; we have a life that meanders and curves like a beautiful river, widening and becoming more powerful, as it flows towards the great wide ocean of our destiny.
There may be waterfalls or great trees that fall across the river’s path and the water can move as slow as a glacier or as wild as whitewater.
But every creature, leaf, or rock, that the river gathers on its journey to the ocean is very much like our learnings, wisdom, healing, addictions, heartbreaks, jobs, loved ones, and children that each have given us a purpose for that period of time.
We just never realized the importance of us being where we were and the role we played at that point.
Mahatma Gandhi for example, was a rebellious youth from a privileged background before he became a lawyer. And through the curves in his life’s river, he ended up working in South Africa, where he had an experience that led him to incorporate all of his learnings and turn it into the beginnings of the man we know today.
He went from reckless teenager to being the Father of India.
And I am sure that he often pondered the meaning of his life, but I’m also sure that he could never have discovered his true destiny by only thinking about it, instead of living his life, heart-led.
Each stone paves a path and each step carries us forward in building it into a road.
If you feel a yearning to be doing something different with your life, it is your heart that will lead you there. It is your heart that will guide you to be the change.
Sonia Choquette talks about three distinct areas that our Heart’s Desires fall into. They are the buckets that capture and hold the foundational context of Healing, the Creative, and the Spirit.
So what is your heart leading you to do first, right here, right now? Do you need healing? Do you need to create? Or do you need a spiritual practice to bring more peace and balance to your life?
Take care of what the Heart needs first and you will be fulfilling the very purpose you have been called to do at this moment in your life.
Here are 4 of my favorite questions that help me begin a dialogue with my Heart.
The 4 Most Important Questions
1. What am I doing when I feel most beautifully connected?
When you experience this state of connectivity, you feel a sense of lightness and flow in each and every moment.
You could be knee-deep in your garden, watching the rain, singing, walking the dogs, icing a cake, or polishing your shoes on a Saturday morning. You feel good in your own skin and at home with yourself and the world around you. And this subtle but tangible peacefulness is not only felt by you but exudes from your very core, making it palpable for anyone else around to feel too.
This is the feeling to pay attention to. It’s the feeling of connection.
2. What is something I believe in that almost nobody seems to care about?
Not in a negative way. It’s just not on their radar, they never associated that prospect with you and are so absolutely neutral about the concept of it that you just know it belongs to you.
So often our subconscious beliefs have colored our expectations of ourselves.
We have accepted so many other people’s beliefs as our own along the way, from childhood until now, that it’s hard to discern if a particular expectation, dream, or idea is actually ours — or if the desire belongs to someone else.
Those that love us can herd us towards an outcome they feel is either best suited for us or convince us that we are so good at baking that it would be a dream to make a business out of it — when in fact working at an animal shelter is the thing that most makes us feel most like the answer to Question 1!
3. What am I sacrificing, not prioritizing, or keeping quiet about just to keep the peace?
What would I absolutely love to do if there wasn’t a “Boo-ing” audience just waiting to pounce?
Maybe it’s taking a sabbatical or learning the art of Ike-Jime. Perhaps you’d love to go back to school and you keep getting told you are too old. Either way, the list of secret desires burns bright within all of us.
It’s the fear of judgment and ridicule that hold us back, whether this is a real possibility or just imagined.
The beliefs that stop us from stoking the flames of our own magnificent inner fire are actually the real problem.
Because somewhere, a long time ago, someone who we may not even remember, taught us that letting ourselves shine bright was a negative attribute to have.
The problem is, if we can’t give ourselves permission to be the sun in our own universe, then how are we supposed to create that gravitational pull to bring all of our planets into alignment?
Nurture and explore those hidden desires and you will start to notice how good it feels to be you. Notice how this expanded and joyful you then affects everyone around, you by simply honoring your heart.
4. What usually follows when I whisper to myself, ‘I wish…’
We’ve all done this.
We’ve all said “I wish” enough times as we stood in front of a store window, looked at pictures from a friend’s holiday post, spent the day running late and cursing, sat on the floor of your bathroom, and wept…
We make wishes even in the most mundane of moments at the queue in the bank or whilst brushing our teeth.
It comes to us as a prayer or damning, a wistful want, or a daydreamer’s parody.
No matter which way it completes itself as a sentence, start collecting the words. Collect them all and you might be very surprised at what you discover if you dig deep enough into what those words actually mean to you.
This is a very big clue into what the heart is guiding you towards.
Your biggest contribution to this world is You.
It is never really about what you do, but in “how” you do it — how you show up in this world.
Maybe your heart is asking you to start with “the man in the mirror” first? That old adage of leading by example is foundational for the journey of an authentic heart-led life.