Living with a sense of purpose not only energizes and fulfills you, it actually enhances your overall health and well being. In fact, a recent Canadian study revealed that those who wake each morning with a sense of meaning and direction, live longer than those who are without a daily purpose.
It is easy to tell if you are lacking authentic purpose or meaningful intention in your life – if you wake with a sense of dread, boredom or lethargy, or if your daily activities leave you feeling trapped, drained or uninspired, it is likely that you have overlooked or ignored your innate sense of purpose.
So, how do we connect with our purpose? How do we discover the actions and activities that are imbued with our most meaningful intention? Below are four keys to stepping beyond habit and obligation, and into more inspired, purposeful living.
1. Let go of what you should be doing
Without a doubt, one of the greatest hurdles to overcome when seeking a life of purpose is to move beyond the pressures of social expectation and personal obligation. If you spend your life only doing what you should – being good, doing the right thing, living up to the expectations of others – you will almost inevitably overlook or underestimate your own needs and desires.
A sense of purpose is deeply personal and inherently authentic. It is highly unlikely you will recognize it within yourself if you are constantly seeking external validation, recognition and approval. It is equally as unlikely that someone else will recognize and dictate your purpose to you. Therefore, as deeply-entrenched as your social conditioning may be, it is imperative to start looking beyond what is right, good, usual and expected, and reach within for an honest idea of what you can contribute to the world in a meaningful way. Start confronting the things you should be doing, and start acknowledging the things you truly want to do.
(A clever trick is to look for the ‘but’. I love working with timber but my parents encouraged me to be an accountant. I have a great business idea but I’m not clever enough to be an entrepreneur. I have a yearning to learn interior design but I don’t really want to make a career of it.)
2. Balance self with the needs of others
Altruism is a powerful human quality – studies have shown that being of service to others is ultimately beneficial to our mental, emotional and physical well being. It is also worth noting that mutual cooperation has been regarded as the single greatest factor in humanity’s ability to survive and thrive through the millennia, and across the globe.
Your personal sense of purpose is a natural and instinctive part of who you are. Therefore, it will almost certainly involve another natural and instinctive desire within you: the need to share your talents and knowledge, and contribute to the greater community.
If you tend to be self-focused, seek out ways to use meaningful actions and activities to lift and support others. If you are someone who gives too much of yourself – if you constantly put others before self or have trouble saying “no” – appreciate that your purpose will always energize and inspire you. If you are emotionally or physically depleted, it is probable that you are giving beyond both the limits of your purpose, and the true needs of those around you.
3. Banish BIG
In a world obsessed with celebrity and big deeds, it could be easy to believe that your personal actions have no value unless they cultivate an earth-shattering headline or a large online following. But true purpose is often in the small things. You are a single thread woven into the tapestry of life; every action you take, even those that seem insignificant or unseen, has an ultimate effect on the people around and the wider community. You matter, and by living your life with purpose and meaningful intention you have a very real, often unforeseeable, and yet ultimately positive impact on the world.
4. Allow yourself to evolve
You are a part of nature – a unique and exquisite expression of the natural world around you. As such, you have an inherent and inescapable need to evolve. Understand, therefore, that your purpose is likely to involve personal growth and expansion. Whether it be the development of natural talents and skills, higher learning or research, travel and exploration, or the uncomfortable journey beyond what is normal and familiar – your inherent sense of purpose is always accompanied by a need to expand into a greater version of yourself.
And remember: as you evolve so, too, may your purpose. By remaining connected to the daily actions and activities that are most meaningful to you, you will be aware if and when your sense of purpose changes and leads you in a new and inspiring direction.
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and intuitive consultant with over 15 years’ experience as a professional intuitive and spiritual teacher. She combines cutting edge science with traditional spirituality to offer the latest understandings of psi, consciousness and holistic well being. Find out more at www.kimforrester.net