Purpose...this one thing separates the happy people from the unhappy people. Living with purpose is really the point of living. Many people believe that it has to be big and showy and recognized by the crowd. This isn’t the case at all. In fact purpose, true purpose is small.
There is something powerful about actually sitting down and finding what is your purpose by sorting through all the things we think are important. We all have responsibilities; bills to pay, others to answer to, things that must be done to keep life moving on, but what is it in your life that really drives you or makes you care?
There are corporations built on the dreams of one person or a group of people and that have achieved great things; shoes for the shoeless in foreign countries, clean water for those without, food for the hungry, etc., and all these are amazing things, but…not everyone can do those things because there are so many needs to be fulfilled in this world that these things are only, in the big picture, a small part.
I think sometimes we get overwhelmed with the idea that we don’t have much to offer and so give up on the idea that we have anything at all to give the world. Change this perspective! In fact, look for little things…
Today I walked the dogs at the beach and spotted an ocean bird that was dying. It was on the sand and obviously not healthy or even able to be saved, but it was shivering and right at the water line and vulnerable to dogs and people, as it was a beautiful and busy day with tourists.
I took the two leashed I was holding, attached them to the fanny pack, (poop bag) that I wear and took two poop bags (who knew they were so handy?) and put one on each hand and picked up the suffering bird and took it to a rocky ledge and placed it in a nook up high where it would be warm and safe until it could either live or die.
I was amazed at how at a beach full of people, no one noticed this little bird sitting smack in the middle of the beach. What was even more interesting is when a woman with five dogs surrounding her is fumbling around with something wearing pink bags on her hands, how that didn’t attract some attention! It wasn’t a big thing, but I hope I made a difference in what was probably the last day of that bird’s life. I know I have other things to accomplish in my life, but today, that was my purpose.
Sound goofy? Maybe, but take a few minutes and sit with the idea of what you think you do well that makes a difference. Maybe you are a great story teller or an amazing problem solver; maybe you have a way with kids or animals. Are you a good listener? Do you make the best pancakes or prettiest bouquet?
I know a woman that has a talent for making people feel special. She always sends a card no matter what the holiday, even St. Patrick’s Day. She remembers the birthday of her manicurist! Her husband has a talent for taking care of people, especially the elderly and loves to be of service to those in their church.
I know another woman who is a great writer and likes to show off her local community and tell others about how special it is. I work with a woman that is amazing at detail and really knows how to set atmosphere and make people feel special. There is someone else I know that always has something funny to tell me and make me laugh. A handyman I used to know would do incredible work and pay attention to detail; he made a simple stool one time for a client and the way he did it was beautiful.
I could tell you something special about every person I know. Believe it or not, you make a difference every day and in ways you probably aren’t aware of. Sometimes you look for it and sometimes is finds you. It can be big, like saving a life but usually it will be small, like smiling at the homeless person on the curb or picking up litter on the path, but it makes a difference…to the world and to you.
I am a reader. I have several favorite authors and one of them is Ken Blanchard, the best-selling author of “The One Minute Manager”. He has partnered up with Morton Shaevitz for a quick and compelling book, “Refire! Don’t Retire”.
This book is written for those over 50, but I think anyone can benefit from the information and strategies shared through the story of Larry and Janice Sparks, a fictional married couple learning how to get more out of life.
They are feeling like life is a little stagnant and want to make some changes but don’t know how to go about it. With some help from friends, they work on four areas of their lives; Emotion, Intellect, Physical and Spiritual. Sharing their journey with reflection points at the end of each chapter makes it into almost a work book for the reader.
I found that by reading a section a day and reflecting on that area and making notes and goals for myself, I was able to see how I could make small and/or big adjustments in my life to make significant change. I will keep you posted...
If you are looking at refiring your life or just a portion of it, I really suggest you check out this book!
For 10+ years I had a successful mortgage business and constantly monitored the news and stock market. I read The Wall Street Journal, local newspapers, news journals and online reports. I kept up-to-date on anything that might affect housing rates and the economy. As much as I loved my work, I found I was constantly being barraged with bad news and horrific events. Some days I felt down right depressed and unhappy. I noticed on the days I was out of the office and not glued to the news, that I was happier.
I began to realize that most news wasn’t real news; it was whatever the media decided to report that day. On the same day, I would find opposing reports about the market, housing and interest rates. This was frustrating because I was supposed to help people make good decisions and getting clear and correct information was difficult.
I started to change the channel when the news came on. I cancelled my subscriptions to the newspapers. I would scan the online news headlines in the morning and at night and if anything looked important, I would read it. I started to find I could do my job just as well without the constant negativity and I was a lot happier more often.
After I closed my mortgage company, I got rid of my TV and now, I look at the headlines once a day, if that. I don’t miss TV, in fact, when I am around one I find that most of it is senseless and boring. I would much rather read a book, listen to some music or connect with a friend.
Lately I’ve been wondering how TV might relate to the happiness level of people. I have several friends that keep up with the latest news on food, terrorism, politics, catastrophes, etc. I find that the more I discuss these things, the less happy I am. “Ignorance is bliss”, is definitely true! In fact, I found a few articles, online, that talk about anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand with binge watching TV.
Here are a couple of links:
I remember once when I was a reserve firefighter, we got a call for a woman in her fifties with an elevated heart rate. In talking to her, it turns out she was watching stock market news just before and the market was not doing well that day and she had a pension that was severely affected. When her heart rate became normal, we told her husband to take her to the hospital and get checked out as a precaution since she had never experienced this before.
As an experiment, try not watching the news for a week and see how you feel. If you get really brave, try not watching TV at all for 3 days and see what effect it has on you.
I can say from my own experience that not having a TV has made me more productive, less anxious and a much happier person!
In the last year and a half, I have been doing some deep work on myself and have been including meditation, yoga and mental exercises to help me stay in the moment and stay in a more positive mind frame. A few of the books that I have enjoyed are “Peace Is Every Step”, by Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”, both by Eckhart Tolle.
One of the most powerful and effective exercises, that really works for me is using the breath to find calm within, regardless of the chaos around me. I can immediately switch to focusing on my breath and stop whatever is overwhelming, stressful or negative. It is simple, easy and immediate.
I would like to share an excerpt from Eckhart Tolle’s book, “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose”:
From page 244 -246
‘Being aware of your breathing takes attention away from thinking and creates space. It is one way of generating consciousness. Although the fullness of consciousness is already there as the unmanifested, we are here to bring consciousness into this dimension.
Be aware of your breathing. Notice the sensation of the breath. Feel the air moving in and out of your body. Notice how the chest and abdomen expand and contract slightly with the in- and outbreath. One conscious breath is enough to make some space where before there was uninterrupted succession of one thought after another. Once conscious breath (two or three would be even better), taken many times a day, is an excellent way of bringing space into your life. Even if you meditated on your breathing for two hours or more, which some people do, one breath is all you ever need to be aware of, indeed ever can be aware of. The rest is memory or anticipation, which is to say, thought. Breathing isn’t really something that you do but something that your witness as it happens. Breathing happens by itself. The intelligence within the body is doing it. All you have to do is watch it happening. There is no strain or effort involved. Also, notice the brief cessation of the breath, particularly the still point at the end of the outbreath, before you start breathing in again.
Many people’s breath is unnaturally shallow. The more you are aware of the breath, the more its natural depth will reestablish itself.
Because breath has no form as such, it has since ancient times been equated with spirit—the formlessness Life. “God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living creature.” The German word for breathing--atmen--is derived from the ancient Indian (Sanskrit) word, Atman, meaning the indwelling divine spirit of God within.
The fact that breath has no form is one of the reasons why breath awareness is an extremely effective way of bringing space into your life, of generating consciousness. It is an excellent meditation object precisely because it is not an object, has no shape or form. The other reason is that breath is one of the most subtle and seemingly insignificant phenomena, the “least thing” that according to Nietzsche makes up the “best happiness.” Whether or not you practice breath awareness as an actual formal meditation is up to you. Formal meditation, however, is no substitute for bringing space consciousness into everyday life.
Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment—the key to all inner transformation. Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present. You may also notice that you cannot think and be aware of your breathing. Conscious breathing stops your mind. But far from being in a trance or half asleep, you are fully awake and highly alert. You are not falling below thinking, but rising above it. And if you look more closely, you will find that those two things—coming fully into the present moment and ceasing thinking without loss of consciousness—are actually one and the same: the arising of space consciousness.’
Experiment with this and see if it makes a difference for you. As you experience massage, focus on your breath and you will find that you relax easier on the table. Next time you dread going to a social event, see that annoying person at the grocery store, have to pay the bills, take a moment and focus on your breath. You might find that you get through those moments better than you thought you would!