I am not okay with my life.
I do not like my life.
I LOVE it!
Do I sound like I am bragging? I do?
If such a declaration was commonplace it would not appear boastful. After all you can only boast about that which is rare and sought after. The sad truth is that few people use words such a love, passion, bliss and fulfilment to describe their experience of life. There is a saying that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them. Are you singing your song or are you leading a life of quiet desperation?
Because you are reading this is, I am fairly certain that you have some sense of yourself as a spiritual being, as having a soul. Although you do not have a soul, your soul has you. Your spirit existed before you were born and lives on after this life ends. Surely, then, it is your spirit that has you and not the other way round. Now ask yourself this; “why is my spirit having this human experience?” There must be a reason, a purpose for having this life; in this body, borne by these parents, with this history, this unique combination of talents, weaknesses, skills and interests. If you look at it like this, it is hard to think that any of it is random, that you happened by chance or even worse, mistake.
Let us ponder this word, PURPOSE.
Definition: n the reason for which anything is done, created or exists.
Synonyms: reason, point, goal, design, aim, function, object, intention, objective, motive
Can you imagine life without it? Alas, you don’t have to imagine it, you can simply look around. Ours is not a society that prioritises life purpose, however there are exceptions. In her book, The Spirit of Intimacy, Sobonfu Some relates a life purpose tradition of her people, the Dagara tribe of West Africa. When a Dagara woman reaches a certain stage of her pregnancy she goes through a ritual called a Hearing Ritual. The medicine (wo)man puts her into a trance, then village elders speak to the unborn child. They ask the child; “why are you here?” Through the mother’s voice, the child shares his or her purpose with the elders, who record it. From the moment the child is born, the village supports his purpose. She is surrounded with the things and people who will equip her with the necessary knowledge, experience and skills to accomplish her purpose. Often, the Dagara name their children to reflect their life purpose.
If that was how you were brought up, how do you think your life would be different?
Most of us come about our purpose the long way around because our society is invested in us “leading lives of quiet desperation”. Our schooling, originally designed to support the industrial age, is only concerned with creating productive workers. As adults, there are entire industries that need us to remain victims of that constant, nagging, empty feeling. You know the feeling I am talking about. That longing and suspicion that something important is missing from your life, the one thing that will make everything else fall into place.
It is a widespread human condition, which has spawned entire industries. We attempt to appease it with money, status, power, possessions, experiences, relationships, children, sex, drugs, alcohol, gossip, gambling, etc. Unfortunately none of these things work in the long-term because this is not a longing for things. It is not going to be fulfilled by something you put in to your life but by something you put out to life. It is a longing for purpose.
You and I have a mission to fulfil. We each have a purpose. There are no spare parts in the universe. Everybody has a song. Everybody is here to contribute something valuable and unique. That nagging emptiness has a job, to remind you to get on with the business of fulfilling your purpose. Once you live on purpose the emptiness abates, saving you a lot of angst, time and money.
As Robert Byrne put it; “The purpose of life is a life of purpose”, living on purpose is THE KEY to peace and fulfilment.
Do you remember the fable of the Ugly Duckling? He was miserable because he was a misfit, ugly, misunderstood and a failure. That is, until he discovered that he was not a duckling at all but a swan. Once he started living as a swan everything fell into place.
When Bonnke invited me to write this article, he suggested that I answer the question: How does one experience a purposeful life? Your purpose is your reason for being. If you allow it, it will come through you. If you stop distracting yourself with external things and listen to your spirit you will hear your song. In his book, The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra shares that when his children were growing up he assured them that he did not care about their performance at school. He stressed that their only responsibility was to pay attention to what they are passionate about, invest in becoming good at those passions and figure out how to use those skills to serve life. It really is that simple, but it is not easy.
It may require swimming against the tide, declaring that you are a swan in a pond full of ducks. What would people say? What about the bond? My song won’t make me any money! Will my wife stick around? What about all the money my parents invested in my education? Is it not too late to change my life, too disruptive? Well, is it?
All you need to live on purpose is to allow your spirit to use your life and then get out of your own way. It’s your song. You don’t need to learn it. You just need to sing it.
This post was originally written as a guest post for The Power of 1