Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. – Helen Keller
Life can be very complex at times. Working on relationships, raising children, building careers, and exploring our faith all require time and effort – no question. As complex as these things are, take comfort in the fact the reasons we work so hard may not be complicated at all.
It has been suggested by psychologists what people want most in life is to experience pleasure and to avoid pain. As a result of spending a lifetime paying attention to what people are saying and feeling, as well becoming more aware of what motivates and drives me; I would suggest the psychologists are wrong. From my life experiences, it is clear what we really want most boils down to two things: happiness, and purpose.
Think about it for a moment. Whether it’s having a loving marriage, a successful career, or enjoying more time with our children, the results we are seeking are to be happy and to find purpose and meaning in our lives.
We all want to be happy. Not happy in a constantly blissful or euphoric sense, but in a fundamental and visceral one. It is not realistic to think we can be happy, or emotionally “high,” all of the time. After all, we get flat tires, receive poor service in restaurants, and have to pay our bills.
Stuff does happen in life which may not always make us feel happy, but the goal is to learn to be happy in spite of the annoyances and set-backs we encounter.
Happiness is the product of the day-in and day-out grind and still finding a place of contentment and peace in spite of what life throws at us. Happiness is to experience joy and take comfort in the fact we are living fully and without regret.
Happiness is to take advantage of the time we have on this earth by getting the most out of it. Happiness is going to bed tired knowing we gave the day everything we had.
Happiness is also a choice. We can allow events to derail what we want, or we can choose to fight, persevere and win. When we listen to our guts – to our inner wisdom, we can hear what we really want. Then, we get to choose how to respond.
If happiness causes us to go to bed tired because of the effort we just gave to the day, purpose gets us back up in the morning.
Purpose is the fuel in our tanks that keeps us moving forward. As humans, we all want to know that our time in this world has made a difference and our life had a purpose.
I don’t need to look very far to see an example of the desire to have a purpose in life. Caitlin, my oldest daughter, is pursuing a degree in social welfare. My daughter could have selected any major, but she selected this one because the most important thing to Caitlin is to make a difference with her life.
She believes being a social worker is the best way to fulfill her purpose. What impresses me the most is the motivation behind this decision was not the analysis of her potential career earnings, but the analysis of living her life on purpose.
The expression, “living on purpose.” suggests we need to invest our time and resources in those activities that are best aligned with fulfilling our life’s purpose. Each day we need to inspect our words and actions to be certain they are supporting our core values and purpose. When we live on purpose, we can better enjoy and celebrate the passion and energy we have for our lives.
Still looking for your life’s purpose? Here’s one way you can find it. Take a sheet of paper and begin to write down all of the things you are passionate about. This is your list, so don’t cheat yourself. Be real and be honest with yourself, and just let the inspiration flow.
Write down any dreams you have had in the past or any of your current dreams. The one that jumps off the page and smacks you right between the eyes and makes you begin to cry is your purpose.
Honor this one and respect it. And if you give it permission, it will change your life and bring the happiness you deserve.
Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender
Alex’s new book, Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender, is now available (get 10 free Peace and Balance tools when you order).