“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every day prior to meditation, I ask the four soul questions:
Recently, I was watching a Pinkcast by one of my favorite authors, Daniel Pink. Daniel Pink shares information on a variety of topics in a video that is about one minute in length and it usually impacts my life. He was interviewing Richard Leider and the topic was Discover Your Purpose (in one minute) With the Napkin Test. Okay I thought, I want to know my purpose and if I can l learn it in a minute that would be awesome. I didn’t establish my purpose in a minute, but after reading Leider's book The Power of Purpose 3rd edition, answering the questions on the site Life Reimagined (it's free) and spending time in silence and stillness, I established a purpose statement that I am excited about and will provide direction and help me decide what to say Hell Yes to in my life (another Pinkcast).
In the Napkin test you reflect on the question, “What gets you up in the morning?” This was a powerful question for me, as I had never looked at my purpose from that perspective. But, I realized the answer for me was creativity. I love being creative and I am fully engaged when I am writing a lesson plan that inspires others, painting a picture that evokes emotions, writing a blog that empowers readers on their own path, capturing an image with a camera and artistically manipulating it to tell a story or ingeniously arranging the letters to make a word on a Scrabble board. I lose track of time when I am in the creative realm. This is my gift. Your gift will probably not be creativity. But, I encourage you to spend some quiet time reflecting on what gets you up in the morning, and list your gifts, passions, and values.
The next crucial part of the purpose statement is how you use your gift to serve others. This is probably the part that I struggled the most with because I was under a false belief that I needed to serve others in a much larger magnitude than is the actual reality. The overachiever in me sees people with a purpose like Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Buddha and I know that my life and actions don’t compare. But, I realized it is not about comparing myself to others, but doing the best I can with my unique talents to impact others. I do have gifts and I do share them in my own distinctive way with the people in my life. People call me and email me asking for advice. I offer meditation classes in a safe and nurturing space. I write a blog and share my mistakes and learning’s for others to learn from and apply to their life, I create artwork and photographs that bring joy. My work might not be on the scale of Mother Teresa, but to those people that I impact, it makes a difference to them. It is like the Starfish parable where after a storm a boy is throwing starfish back into the ocean before the sun comes up and kills them and a man tells him that there are thousands of stranded starfish and that he won’t make a difference. The boy picks up another starfish and throws it into the sea and says, “I made a difference to that one.” We each have a gift and if we share it with others, we will make a difference to those whose lives we touch. Leider tells us that the default purpose is to Grow and Give. May you grow each day and give your gifts to others and live your purpose!
What gets you up in the morning?
How do you share your gifts and passions with others?
Peggy Steffens is an artist and Chopra Certified Meditation Instructor
My goal is to build a community with like-minded individuals who want to grow, share and learn from one another. Please post comments to enrich the experience for all.