“If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Henry David Thoreau
I have been concerned lately with the number of people who come to see me who seem to have given up on themselves. Loss of job, economic stress, poor working conditions, family problems and other negative events seem to take people down more easily than in the past. I hope I am wrong and that I just see more than my share of those who seem to have surrendered to a colorless fate without making a strong effort to resist. To some extent I think that we have allowed society, tradition and others convince us of what constitutes a successful life and anything else is failure. How sad it is that some people focus so narrowly on a few of life’s elements as being the only key to happiness.
Thankfully it doesn’t have to be that way. The tough part is that far too many have not spent any time finding out enough about themselves to be able to understand the keys to their own happiness. The good news is that those who do see how the road ahead can be much better than the road behind and enthusiastically go for something better. These folks communicate their interests with enthusiasm and people react positively. I know it is not easy after being conditioned year after year to define success only by the definitions of others.
Today I am including a fairly long article written by Stephen Martile that is similar to the discussions I often have with friends looking for brighter alternatives. Don’t give up on you — let the real you emerge and you’ll be surprised how good life can be.
Finding purpose in life gives you direction and guidance. It channels inner forces and energy to overcome outer circumstances and conditions. It’s at the crux of leading your life, instead of having life lead you. Are you doing what you love? Are you living on purpose? Here are 4 ways to finding purpose in life:
Spend some time with yourself. Examine your life and get in touch with those thoughts and feelings that are important to you. Reflect on past experiences and ask yourself:
* When do I feel that my life is most meaningful?
* What do I enjoy doing the most?
* What activities bring me the most passion and energy?
* What are my true priorities?
* What is the deepest purpose I would like to express in my life?
Write down the answers to these questions. Just reading this is not going to cut it.
Find a quiet space and take 15-20 minutes to really answer these questions. Spend some time and really think about what brings you joy and happiness in your life. Reflect back on your life and write down the answers that come to you.
You see, you occur to people a certain way. The way you see yourself may be different than the way others see you. The way you occur to others is a reflection of your inner self. The people in your life are reflective of your way of being. They see things that you don’t. The clues to finding purpose in life can be found in the people that are closest to you.
Consider 5 people in your life that are close to you: your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or other important friends or family members in your life. Sit down with them and ask them these questions:
* What do you think comes most naturally to me?
* What do you think are my special talents and gifts?
* What do you think I am really good at?
* What do you think is really important to me?
* When do you find that I’m the happiest and what am I doing?
Again, just reading this is not going to cut it. Write out the answers and review them. Compare the answers you received from the introspection method to the environment method, then look for patterns.
* What are the similarities?
* What patterns do you see?
* What qualities, character traits and values seem to be repeated over and over again?
This is a clue. Your patterns are an indication of what is unique and special about you.
3. Natural Ability, Not Skill..
When looking for answers, consider natural ability and not skills. Skills are those actions that you’ve perfected over time; they’re external and not necessarily unique to you. Skills are important to executing a well crafted life purpose but are secondary to natural ability.
Look for natural ability; this comes from the inside. Everyone’s got it – you’ve got it. Your natural ability is an act of creative contribution that ignites you. It’s natural to you because it’s part of who you really are. Look for natural ability when examining your life with the questions above.
4. You’re Inspired.
When you’re inspired, your “in spirit,” and spirit is who you really are. Inspiration is the act of expressing that which is within you. Again, your environment is a reflection of who you are. Consider the people, mentors, heroes and superstars in your life that are an inspiration. The reason they are inspiring to you is because you see some of yourself in these other people.
What is your purpose? Consider these questions:
* Who are some of your heroes and what is inspiring about them?
* Who are the teachers, coaches or mentors that inspire you the most?
* Which movie stars, musicians or performers are inspiring to you?
Again, it’s all about recognizing the patterns. Look for those areas in your life where you see a common thread. These are the clues to realizing and finding purpose in life.
“Life’s real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.”
A friend said: Our five-year-old son went to a church conference with my wife and me. He got restless, so my wife handed him a pad and pencil and suggested he mark down every time the speaker said the word "and." After a while, he grew bored, and I asked, "Would you like to listen for a different word?"
"Yes," he whispered. "I’d like to listen for ‘Amen’."
My neighbor has a circular driveway. He can’t get out.
A woman’s husband asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She thought for a moment and said, "This year I just want cold, hard cash for a change."
The following day her husband fulfilled her request. He put $40 in nickels, dimes and quarters into a quart jar, then filled it with water and placed it in the freezer.
On her birthday he handed his wife a solidly frozen bottle of change.
"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
Two rural church deacons who were having a sociable beer in the local tavern when they saw their minister drive by and take a good long look at their pickup trucks parked outside.
One deacon ducked down and said, "I hope the reverend didn’t see us or recognize my pick-up."
The other replied indifferently, "What difference does it make. God knows we’re in here… and he’s the only one who counts."
The first deacon countered, "But God won’t tell my wife."
My wife keeps complaining I never listen to her…or something like that.
A new man is brought into Prison Cell 102. Already there is a long-time resident who looks 100 years old. The new man looks at the old-timer inquiringly.
The old-timer says, "Look at me. I’m old and worn out. You’d never believe that I used to live the life of Riley. I wintered on the Riviera, had a boat, four fine cars, the most beautiful women, and I ate in all the best restaurants of France."
The new man asked, "What happened?"
"One day Riley reported his credit cards missing!"
"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.
Be the living expression of God’s kindness — kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
Stay well, do good work, and have fun.
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The editor is somewhat senile.
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