“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt
Countless self-help gurus urge people to find their purpose, to lead a purpose-driven life, to be purposeful about their choices.
The thinking goes like this: If you’re feeling a pervasive sense of un-fulfillment and lack — perhaps sprinkled with varying degrees of anxiety or sadness or anger — then you’re probably lacking your purpose. Find your purpose, the enlightened people say, and all else in life clicks into place.
Roger that. It’s a logical thread to follow.
There’s just one problem: Trying to find your life purpose causes a lot of people more stress and anxiety. It throws life wildly out of balance. It creates striving. Until that holy grail of Here’s my life purpose is found, life can feel perpetually lacking.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in where you are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.~Lao Tzu
As a conscious gal who’s committed to deepening my relationship with Self and helping others do the same, I’ve learned some potent lessons about the World’s Most-Wanted, elusive state of happiness.
Most often it’s our own expectation and longing for that happy-gassed state that’s actually the culprit of our suffering. The stronger our craving and attachment to the stuff, the less of it we get.
See happiness — like any emotion — checks in and checks out on the regular. It peaks and it wanes and then it doubles back to you.
I used to fret and dread the absence of happiness. I’d perpetuate the darkness by fearing it intensely. Like a dysfunctional relationship, my neediness only repelled the very stuff I wanted for. I’d cling on when happiness arrived, and I’d cry when it left.
If pessimism is despair, optimism is cowardice and stupidity, is there any need to choose between them?” ~Francis Parker Yockey
On one of my husband and my first camping trips together, we were walking down a wooded trail next to a crisp mountain river. The heat was severe, as it was mid-August.
“Ugh,” my husband said. “This heat is so oppressive.”
“Yeah, but we’re about to go swimming,” I replied. “Don’t be so pessimistic.”
“The difference between my pessimism and your optimism is that I’m optimistic about the big things and you’re only optimistic about the small things,” he replied. “I think my pessimism is better than your optimism.”
I hated to admit it, but he was right. I would worry constantly about whether our relationship was working but blindly skip along, happy to ignore the 100 degree heat.
Before that I used to think everyone should be an optimist, but I don’t think that’s really what we should all be aiming for.
Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are.~Brené Brown
Do you ever fear that who you are isn’t enough — you put on a mask and become someone you’re not to avoid rejection?
This has been me for most of my life. From a young age I never felt as though I was good enough. Growing up as an introvert surrounded by extroverts was what first got me questioning myself.
Everyone seemed to love the opposite of what I was. I felt unloved, and I became ashamed of myself.
This was the beginning of many years of self-destruction. I so desperately wanted to be accepted and loved by others. I did whatever it took to be what I thought people wanted to see. Even if it wasn’t in line with who I was and what I truly valued.
I hid behind a mask. I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. It was my protection from allowing people to get to know the real me so I could avoid rejection. This is how I lived for 23 years.
Everything's mine though just on loan, nothing for the memory to hold, though mine as long as I look.~Wislawa Szymborska
I always had the impression that time was passing too fast, that I was not fulfilling my potential and that I was lost in a world, which I was struggling to get to know even in a small part.
I always wanted to travel, but I didn’t know how to start. I was insecure about my own decisions, but first and foremost I was afraid to do it alone.
One day I just decided to finally leave all these concerns at home and go traveling by myself. I decided to book tickets to places I had never been, pack my backpack and escape to a new part of the world for almost a year.
After visiting 40 countries, I can assure you that being your own captain while crossing into unknown lands is the most self-developing experience it is possible to have. Let me explain to you why.
Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday.~Henri Nouwen
“If I’m not fully happy right now in this moment, nothing will ever make me happy.”
The thought struck me as I stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing the dishes. It appeared organically, but it felt like something I already knew, a conclusion I was returning to, not recognizing for the first time.
One of those moments where you say, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”
It wasn’t a moment that I should have been happy — one of those milestones in which happiness is actually a requirement, i.e. graduations, weddings, etc.
It was ordinary. I was tackling a mundane task and thinking about what I needed to get done in the next 24 hours.
Yet, in a moment of clarity — one I didn’t muscle into fruition — I recognized that everything I had longed, begged and dreamt about a year ago was there, in my current experience.
We accept the love we think we deserve.~Steven Chbosky
I’ve been going through life feeling like a fraud.
Every time a friend expressed awe over my seemingly perfect life, I gulped a big one and prayed they would never realize what my banal day-to-day existence was really like.
When I was in school, at every exam I hoped that this wouldn’t be the first one I would fail miserably, starting a chain reaction of terrible grades, followed by flunking out of school and ending up on the street … or in jail.