Your current life situation contains all the clues you need.Just ask yourself these two questions.
Do you ever long for energetic days that bring out the best version of you rather than leave you exhausted? Do you sometimes wish life was more impactful and fulfilling?
In a world that’s moving so fast, it’s easy to lose your sense of purpose. Hence, living a fulfilled life is easier said than done.
According to the World Happiness Report, we value happiness more than success, intelligence/knowledge, or material wealth.
Still, most people sacrifice their happiness for the sake of these. Author and professor Raj Raghunathan sums this up:
If the ultimate goal is to be happier, why don’t we choose it all the time? It’s because happiness itself is hard to define. It’s not a tangible goal. It means something different for every one of us.
So, instead of pursuing happiness, pursue a lifestyle where the by-product of the lifestyle is happiness. A happy lifestyle is all directed towards a greater Why.
Asking about life’s purpose isn’t living it.
Have you ever gotten a satisfying answer to the question: “What is the meaning of life?” We all grow up with this question in mind, but no one has ever been able to answer it.
You won’t find an explanation of what your meaning of life is. Your family and friends won’t be able to tell you as well. Why?
Purpose and personality are subjective. All your needs, passions, and existential goals are within you. They will change over time as you mature and grow. Even a few words you read somewhere along the way might entirely change the way we think.
The question is not what the meaning of life is. The question is how you could live right now to make life more meaningful.
You don’t even need to wait for a bold vision to unfold because finding purpose isn’t a one-time event. It unfolds slowly and quietly while you’re
- living up to your authentic, happy, and fulfilled self, and
- resolving the things that make you unhappy.
The following two questions sound easy but make a vast difference. They have been part of my personal growth journey since 2017 and have helped me tremendously with seeking clarity.
With a few little exercises and the right conclusions, I found that I was already in touch with my purpose on a daily basis. Maybe, your life’s purpose is more obvious than you think, too.
It’s a simple but effective step towards living up to your more authentic, happy, and fulfilled self. Your perfect day tells a lot about your deep desires and provides clues on which direction to head.
According to a study done at the University of Toronto, we exert more effort for goals, which are
- challenging, and
- reflecting our values.
Envisioning your ideal life puts you right there. It reflects the difference between your Now and your perfect day, which is the most congruent with yourself and your values.
First, ask yourself how a casual, perfect day in your future would look like.
Turn on relaxing music, close your eyes, and imagine waking up on a perfect day. Observe the pictures, sounds, and feelings. Where are you, and with whom? What’s the first thing you do in the morning? What’s your breakfast, if you have one? Which routines do you have, if any? What energizes you? What do you talk about for hours?
Create a concise snapshot of your day. Memorize it so that you can describe it to yourself vividly at any moment.
Second, find the parallels to your current life.
Don’t wait for a future moment where you finally permit yourself to be happy. Instead of constantly reminding yourself what you haven’t got yet, find the parallels between your perfect day and your current life.
The majority of things you’ve envisioned for your future are already within your reach. These parallels can be the smallest things you might take for granted, like
- eating your favorite breakfast,
- a comfortable bed, or
- time to read your favorite book.
Simply practice gratitude and focus on the gain instead of the gap. The things that are still out of reach can act as meaningful goals that align with your values. Engage with them.
Understanding why we react internally to a challenging experience leads us to discover a flaw we can work on. Once we put action into creating a better life, we live in alignment with who we want to be.
Simply put: Don’t chase a future day where you’re finally happy. You can create meaning right now by
- preparing, instead of worrying,
- understanding, instead of overthinking,
- taking action, instead of being afraid.
First, don’t resist negative emotions and allow them to appear.
Any moment in which you feel pessimistic, ashamed, jealous, worried, or angry can influence all your future decisions.
The purpose of negative emotions is not to make you suffer but to put you in action. Allow yourself to understand the problem at a deeper level, without resistance. Ancient Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism Lao Tzu said:
Second, create a purpose statement.
Every time I write things down, I experience a breakthrough shortly afterward. In my experience, writing makes thoughts real by bringing them into the physical world.
A purpose statement brings structure into your thoughts and allows you to understand your situation at a deeper level.
In practice, take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line in the middle. As headlines, write “I hate” on the left and “I love” on the right side.
Next, write down a list of your most severe problems on the left side. Everything you dislike is worth describing.
On the right side, turn each point from the left side into its opposite — the perfect outcome.
Here are some examples from my first purpose statement back then in 2017:
- I hate to be tired all the time — I wake up refreshed and energetic at 6 am every day.
- I hate that I’m nurturing relationships that are toxic for both sides. I allow myself to decide who I want in my life and communicate openly.
- I hate being unproductive — I always go with the flow. I’m allowed to do nothing when exhausted and re-enter the problem when refreshed.
- I hate my pointless job — I create my own way to contribute to a better world.
Below summarize your intentions with a powerful statement to yourself. This statement can be one bold sentence where you promise to take better care of yourself. It can also be a letter to yourself where you describe your upcoming life transformation.
In 2017, my purpose was to resolve toxic relationships, increase my energy, and become ambitious. The first sentence of my purpose statement was:
My life consists only of those things, situations, humans, and actions I love. All these give me the energy to focus on things that help me move forward in my life, chasing the goal to create a better life and a better world.
Third, solve one problem at a time.
Have you ever been bitten by an elephant? How about a mosquito?
It’s often the little things in life that will bite you. Solving a tiny issue might seem insignificant, but solving many tiny issues can lead to a significant change.
And if it is only to choose
- the stairs instead of the elevator,
- fruit over refined sugar candy,
- the documentary over a trivial Netflix series.
Remember that the bigger picture is nothing more than a composition of the small things in life.
Life exists in the present, and we should never forget this truth. Goals can help you tremendously to stay in the present through deep work, flow, and focused action.
Still, if you work towards a bigger goal, leaping into the future is inevitable. The problem arises when we get stuck in the future and permit ourselves to be happy only when we’ve reached our goals. In her book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, author J.K Rowling shares a beautiful line: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”
Instead, focus on meaningful goals. Deep work, flow, and focus are all indicators of being completely wrapped up in the present, resolving the worries so that you can live with more ease. Both will create a purposeful here and now. Rekindle your passion for life and learn the importance of cherishing every moment as if it were your last. Every moment can feel like your first — if you just let it.
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