What does ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’ evoke in you?
My first thought is that the first two are not really my doing, but pursuing happiness could be something to aspire to, although it feels like a mighty tall order.
How do you pursue something as elusive as happiness? Is it money? a relationship? a job? What is it?
I prefer the word ‘content’ and its close companion ‘to be purposeful’, less vague, less pressure, and a more reachable state.
What would be your answers to the question: ‘What would make my life purposeful?’
Understanding that being purposeful is a state of being and doing
Let’s start with a foundational definition: being purposeful is about finding a state of being and doing where what you do or don’t do matters. So it’s not really about the job you do or your status, but more about how you show up in the various circumstances that life will invite you to – in your likes and dislikes, in your relationships and connections, and in how you treat your body, mind and soul too.
This now being said, I have found these 3 questions to be a relevant starter for this inner discovery.
1/ What are the lessons/teachings/richness that life brought me?
Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey = one of my favorite ways to see my life and my career in a holistic way, rather than a succession of random events; to consider its ups and downs as part of a greater design, with the companions that showed up along the path.
So that we are not overly dwelling on the hardships, but understand that everything can be a teacher.
- What has your hero’s journey taught you?
- What does your life story look like? Milestones? Obstacles? Patterns? Synchronicities?
- What did you learn from them?
- What brought you contentment?
- What makes it worthwhile?
2/ How do I impact others?
Living purposefully is also understanding how you impact your environment, positively and negatively. Practicing the art of emotional intelligence, speaking from a place of kindness and compassion, and to the extent possible, responding to what is coming up rather than knee-jerk reactions.
‘How do I impact others’ is not about censoring yourself. But about creating your zone of integrity.
So back to the question from a different angle: How do you make an impact on a personal and individual level, in your community, at the job, in your family?
We sometimes have this romantic idea that making an impact means doing something grandiose, but this is far from the truth. Smaller gestures can equally make a huge difference in someone’s day (and even life).
Helping a colleague without expectations could be part of your contribution to making the workplace a better place (and we all need that!).
Take a few moments and journal:
- When was the last time you helped someone, at work or outside?
- What did you do?
- How did it change their lives?
3/ What makes me unique and how do I share it with the World?
Cliche and true: there are no two people like you.
- What makes you, you?
- What comes naturally to you?
- What are your skills, talents, and qualities, but also your not-so-proud behaviors that you are still learning from?
- How did these help you in the past in your job and relationships?
- How can you continue sharing them with the World?
Living life purposefully is also understanding what you are bringing to the party, and how you can make the best use of it.
So next time your brain goes: why would they hire me? What do they find in me? How can I be more impactful (ha!)? You will have a whole book of answers to choose from.
Ultimately, what matters is to make every day count the way you want it to. The job, the relationships, and the rest, are the playgrounds where you get to express yourself, learn from others and share with them what will make the most impact in that moment.
Because living purposefully is, also, to be present to what is happening for you, in this moment.