I’ve been reflecting a lot upon the concept purpose the past few weeks, and, whereas I’ve not come up with any real new conclusions about purpose, I do have a few reflections to share with you. Ready? Okay, here we go.
Let’s first define the concept.
the intention, aim or function of something; the thing that something is supposed to achieve
While I understand this definition, it leaves me feeling a little wanting. Meaning, while I understand the definition perfectly well, I think it can set us up for heartbreak if we’re not careful.
For instance, what happens if the “something that is supposed to [be] achieved,” is not achieved. Then what? Hm.
I have a different way to think about purpose; and it consists of three basic concepts.
Accepting what is.
When we are fully present, each moment lives and breathes with a purpose all it’s own. Thinking about purpose this way is not about “achievement.” It’s not about striving or seeking anything. It’s about being present to what is, accepting it with an open heart and mind, and then taking the actions necessary to create anew in each moment.
Thinking about purpose this way, eliminates the need for something specific to happen. Instead, each moment something unexpected can occur, and we can accept it, and create our life anew from that space.
This past week, I’ve been reflecting upon purpose, which I’ll write more about in a moment, and planning in the unknown, which will be the topic of a post, well, I’m not sure when, yet will get to it eventually.
Before we get to my reflection on purpose, let’s take a look at a couple writing reflections.
Writing and Reflecting
The poem Mind was, as you may have already surmised, a reflection on my meditation practice. A large part of my life today. It is a beautiful experience, to sit and watch as the mind does it’s thing, and to become detached from it’s activity. It is also a wonder to sit and watch as your mind, over time, begins to slow and become more quiet. Magical.
The Mind poem was also my first foray into the Hexastich poetry style. I learned about this poem style, like many others, from a lovely blogger friend of mine. I’ve written another poem in this style already, and will have more to share in the coming weeks and months.
The poem Gift was a reflection of the many things I’ve learned in the past 4 years, as I’ve learned to go within from my life coach and teacher. It’s been difficult and one of the most wonderful experiences of my life.
And, like I write often, this nexus of the difficult and wonderful, a paradox (and not), is where the jewels of life live. When we slow down, go within, really get to know ourselves, we get back so much more. Beautiful.
As you may know, yesterday I posted The Dance Dances A Life of Its Own, which was a collaboration with Amber of DiosRaw. As a relatively new blogger, I’ve only done one other collaboration, which was the post, Vulnerability: A Paradox, with Maja of Lampelina.
Amber and I created the poem this past week, with the former, sending emails back and forth throughout the creative process. Was superb. A wonderful experience.
With the latter, I submitted a request to do a guest post on Lampelina, and Maja reached out to me to do so. Was also a great experience.
A lot of fun all-around.
There is another collaboration, of a different kind, coming soon, with another inspiring blogger. I’ll have more on that in the future.
I love the concept of, and practice of, collaboration. You learn so much more when you work with other people. It is by far one of my favorite things to do in this life, collaborate with inspirational people. I’ve been very lucky to have had these opportunities and many others in various areas of my life; and, I look forward to future ones.
While I’ve written on purpose before, it is a concept and practice that I reflect upon, well, not quite often, yet it does come up now and then. This week, purpose has come up in regard to planning inside of the unknown.
There was a time in my life where I continually questioned my purpose. Was in fact, confounded by the idea of purpose. Maybe even a little afraid of the concept.
However, today, I accept my truth in regard to purpose. That, in fact, each moment we are alive, we can find our purpose in, well, exactly what it is that we are doing. Right now, typing this end of the week diary entry. In the next moment? Don’t know, it doesn’t exist yet.
What I am pointing to, is that purpose lives inside of us. Purpose is a concept that we attach meaning to, just like every other concept. If you believe that purpose needs to look and feel a certain way, and you don’t see or feel what you are looking for, well, then you’ll have a hard time finding your purpose.
However, if you believe that purpose lives within, and lives in each moment every day, doing exactly as you are already doing, well, there’s nothing to find. Your purpose is readily apparent in each moment everyday.
We can all develop an awareness of purpose that is different from the current one we hold. It just takes practice. Practice letting go of the concept of purpose as we understand it today, and learning a new way to think about and feel purpose.
Remember, purpose is first and foremost a concept. It is not a living breathing thing. We breathe life into the concept of purpose, as we do all concepts, when we give life to it by attaching meaning, which we create, to the concept.
And, just as we breathe life into the concept of purpose as we do today, we can learn a new way to breathe a different life into a new concept of purpose.
It is up to you, me, and everyone else; and, well, that’s quite empowering.
Anyone can create a why, right? You get a prompt, why do you do what you do? You answer. Yet, that’s not quite it. If your why is disconnected from your authentic-self, people will not be attracted to it; why?
Because they will know/feel that you are being inauthentic.
It is, then, super important when creating our whys to be the authentic human being you know yourself to be. Let go of preconceived notions of who you think other people believe you are, and write your why from the space of who you know yourself to be. Important.
See, creating a why, or a purpose statement, is not about pleasing someone else, it’s about you. About the person you are today, the person you are creating yourself to be tomorrow.
When you get clear on your purpose, and convey your why from a place of authenticity, people will be attracted to it. They will see themselves in you. And, when someone shares their why with you, you’ll know if they’re being authentic, and, if they are, you will probably be attracted to them.
You. Yes, you dear blogger.
I’ve been following more and more sites the past couple of weeks, and have been truly inspired by all that I’ve read. From food recipes to articles on grief and trauma.
In the event someone hasn’t told you recently, you are making a difference in the world. Each one of you.
Human connection is such a wonderful experience, and to connect with each of you, though distanced we are, is such a joy, and honor.
My cousin literally just sent me a new message via LinkedIn, and shared with me a beautiful story about the Good Night Lights. Have you ever heard of this? I hadn’t. Take a look. Beautiful, and moving.
I went to the site and was moved to tears. Why? Well, it is, yes, a beautiful story. And, then, it got me thinking about each of you, and the work you continue to do on your individual websites.
See, it isn’t about moving an entire population of people, or providing them access to you and your ideas, all at the same time. It’s about touching one person at a time.
One person, then becomes two people, which eventually becomes thousands, as many of you can attest to; and, thousands can become millions.
You are an inspiration, and I thank you for the opportunity to know you in the way I do today.
Here are three quotes on authenticity that I love.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Brene Brown
I am readingEleanor Roosevelt: The Early Years right now. It’s awesome. I’ve always drawn upon Eleanor Roosevelt (ER) quotes, and have seen biographies about ER, yet reading the book has given me much more to consider, and to reflect upon. Powerful.
If you’ve not read much about ER, here are some of my favorite quotes, and a cool American Experience interview I highly recommend with Vernon Jarrett.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
A purpose-driven life. What does that mean? Any idea? Okay, well, as with most things, there is no one way to think about purpose, or life. Lots of ways to think about these concepts. And, for sure, they are just that, concepts. As humans we often become confused about the meaning we derive from concepts. Why?
Because we create meaning to make sense of the world. And, we create concepts or stories with the language we use to describe our experience. I’ve written about this in other posts, yet it is also instructive here. Why? Because searching for purpose is something that humans spend a lot of time, and money on. Is it necessary? Not sure? Let’s take a look.
What does purpose have to do with life?
How many times have you heard someone utter the phrase, I found my purpose! Yep, me too. And, I’ve uttered that phrase myself. What’s the issue with this way of thinking?
One issue is that if we find purpose outside of ourselves, then it can be taken away. Make sense? Sometimes people land the job they’ve always wanted, and believe the job, or the company, will deliver the purpose they’ve been looking for.
I lived the majority of my life this way. Yep. True. Yet, what I’ve come to realize in the past three years, is that purpose, like all concepts that are created in language, live inside of us. Period. Then what does that mean for people that are in search of purpose?
It means that they will never find it in the world. Not until they find it within themselves. There really is no other way. What we create within us, can never be taken away. Why? Because we’ve created it, and it lives within us. Not accessible to others, unless we choose to invite them.
This may be hard to believe for some, and for others may make perfect sense. We create purpose in our lives. Period.
We are the active agents in creating purpose, and all other concepts that are derived from language. They come from within. Has always worked this way, and will always continue to work this way. What about people who say they’ve found their purpose, and that their purpose lives in the outside world? Depends.
If they’ve created that purpose from within, then when circumstances change their purpose will remain. However, if their purpose is attached to something that lives in the world, and does not live within them, then that purpose may fade. Why is this so?
Because life is full of change. The world, everything around us and within us, is always in a constant state of change. Constant. And, what happens with change?
Where there is constant change, it is only a matter of time before that which we’ve attached our purpose to also changes. And, when it does, there goes our purpose. Extremely painful. Let me give you an example.
When I was first married, we lived in a couple of different apartments in Los Angeles. After a few years, we were ready to buy a home. Hard to do in LA. However, we persisted, and found one. A lovely little home.
In the time we searched for this house, many people told me things like, owning a home is the best, it is everything people say and more. Because my parents were homeowners, I believed that homewoning was a requirement. Owning a home became my purpose at that time in my life.
It was perfect. Our sons were very little, and we were on our way to homeownership. The issue, you ask? Well, this was in 2004. And, what happened in 2007 and 2008? Yep. The housing crash.
Though we ended up selling the house in LA, and purchasing one in AZ, we ended up foreclosing on that house in 2007. That was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Tons of tears. It was as if a part of me had been ripped right out of me. Why?
Because the purpose I had created in language, lived outside of me. When the house foreclosed, then, it was a visceral experience of loss. Losing something so dear, and so important to me. Really was painful. And, why was it so painful?
Because the concept of purpose that I created was that being a homeowner was not only the next step in my life, but was also a step that would bring me peace and security.
What followed? A ton of shame about foreclosing on that house. Shame followed naturally because I had created a purpose that lived outside of me, and that purpose was attached to a particular way of being, and result. Painful. Yet not the only way to create purpose. There is a different way. Let’s take a look.
How can we create purpose in our lives?
When purpose is created from within, it’s never about what’s outside of you. Not ever. Purpose is derived from the actions you take inside of the manifold things that you do. Period.
The main difference for me, is that I don’t have a particular purpose, outside of living my life fully in every moment. This moment, then the next, then the next. And, the purpose that is derived from within is generalizable to all contexts.
A walk on the beach; a conversation with a friend or loved one, a meeting at work, writing this post. Same. They all feel similar to me today. Was not always the case.
When you have a purpose that starts inside of you, the world looks and feels different. Why? Because you are more present to each moment, and all of the wonder that lives there.
When we are able to get outside of our minds continuous longing to be busy, to find purpose, we can be more still. And, in that stillness, purpose is actually kind of a funny concept. What purpose does one really need in this life, but to live; and, live well?
How do you create purpose? Well, that is up to you. You can look, and be on a continuous quest for something that is already inside of you. Many people, including myself for most of my life, live that way.
Or, you can begin to understand that we are the active agents and creators of our purpose. And, in each moment a purpose can be created from within you, no matter what you are doing. Anything, at any time.
For instance, I am now at the coast for a couple of days. Nice. Upon arriving, I walked on the beach for a little while. Just walked. Was beautiful. Then I came back to the tiny, and I mean tiny, room I’m staying in, and meditated for 30-minutes. Now I’m finishing up this post. Then, I’ll get dinner, and then, don’t know.
Doesn’t matter. What comes in each moment will come; and I’ll see it as it comes. Life is actually quite exhilarating that way. No conceptualization of how it will be, or what I’m supposed to be doing. Just doing. That’s all.
What actions can you take to create purpose in each moment?
Live life fully – whatever you are doing, be present to that context, and fully enjoy each moment. When we are not present, and are thinking about other things, we miss our opportunity to create our inner purpose in that moment.
Be the best iteration of yourself – when we give everything we have in every moment, regardless of what we are doing, we are living purposefully. Give your all, always.
Create your purpose from within – create your purpose from within you, and create it again, and again. Each moment, of every day. That’s living a full life.
Be who you reallyare – your inner purpose will come from who you really are, not a performance based upon who others think you are. Be who you are, and your purpose will show up.
Stay engaged with all that you do – we have so many things that we can do, and contribute to. Phew, so much to do. And, being engaged in all that you do, is important to creating that inner purpose. Engagement means getting the most out of everything you do. Important.
Let go of expectations you have – when we have expectations about how things are supposed to go, we set ourselves up for disappointment. And, there is no purpose in disappointment. Don’t expect, just be present and do.
Alright, there are a few actions you can take to begin to create that inner purpose. Funny. It’s already there, you just need to slow down, be present, appreciate everything that is in front of you, and experience the life that is there to be lived.
Let go of the life you think you should be living, and live the one that is right in front of you. You will see, feel, and believe in your new found purpose, whatever it is.
This week I’ve been reflecting upon the old age question: what is the meaning of life? Also asked in other ways, such as, what is my purpose? Or, what is the purpose of life?
Just a moment ago I finished a Friday email to the team I work with, the subject of which was purpose. I used to think that purpose, or the meaning of life, if you like, was something that existed in the external wolrd. That the meaning of life was something that would show up, or was something that I could find, purchase, or attain.
I’ve since come to realize that this notion is a fallacy, one that can induce a lot of suffering whether your quest comes up empty or not. The realization that the meaning of life does not exist outside of you, creates an understanding, then, that the present moment is all that we really have.
In the present moment we have the opportunity to be all that we wish to be, to make all of our goals, wishes, and dreams a reality by creating the actions necessary to reach those goals, wishes, and dreams. The present moment is the one right in front of us now, and then now, and then now.
The present moment is about living in that moment, accepting all that it contains, no matter what happens. It is knowing that whatever happens is in some way connected to all of the goals, wishes, and dreams that we have. Even when we are unable to understand how whatever is happening is connected to those goals, wishes, and dreams. For me, it is especially true in those moments.
There was a time, not long ago, where all things unknown frightened me terribly. Today, I know that to live fully, to live presently, we must not only accept all that is unknown, we must also come to love it and live for it. It is inside all of the unknowns of life that life becomes extra vibrant, and special.
For me, life is about fully expressing ourselves in every moment. Living each moment with the fullness of our entire being. Serving ourselves well, and serving each other likewise.
Life is about inspiration and creativity. About finding inspiration in the smallest things in each moment. A leaf, a tree, a rainy day, a smile, a touch. It is about creating within each of these moments the human being you want to be, desire to be, and giving of yourself fully, while also filling yourself with all of those around you.
Life is about creating a purpose in each moment. And, recreating that purpose over and over again, moment by moment, and day to day. It is about living at the edge of what we believe is possible in the world, and then going past that edge into the unknown.
Live at the edge of what you know. Embrace all that is new. And, create from those spaces. Create the life that you want, the life that you desire. The meaning of your life is your creation, and it is your creation every moment of every day.