If you caught my article last week on The Soul-Quieting Power of Purpose, this article will give you an additional strategy for building a more fulfilling life.
Often I’ve been caught in the seductive trap that money was the solution to my problems. Maybe you’ve been there too. Or maybe you’re even there now.
Yes, we’ve all heard that money doesn’t buy happiness. We’re sure that’s true for others, but we’re always willing to give it a go ourselves in case somehow it will be different for us.
Here’s a line of thinking that will help you clear that up and move on.
Several years ago I was doing a bit of “what if” daydreaming. I started playing with the idea of what if I won $32 million dollars from the Powerball.
I don’t know why it had to be $32 million dollars, but that’s the number that came to my mind. It was sizable enough that it would permanently change EVERYTHING for me. I imagined what would immediately happen if I had that incredible windfall.
Well, the first thing I would do would be to quit my job, because it’s never fun doing something you feel you “have to” do.
The next thing would be to take my family on an awesome vacation. Hawaii was the first place that came to mind. And in my mind I could see us happily enjoying our time together on the beach making sand castles and snorkeling and eating great food and laughing together.
I smiled as I imagined this amazing experience. Can you picture this too?
Then an important thought came into my mind — “OK, then what?”
I imagined we had been there in Hawaii for about ten days and I noticed something about myself. I was fidgety. I was bored. I know enough about myself to know that I don’t like sitting still. I don’t enjoy doing nothing. I’m a project person. I have an inner need to create; to feel valuable and to connect. I could see myself there in Hawaii on that tenth day realizing that I was heading down a road to disappointment and emptiness.
Yes, I could get a big fancy house and, yes, I could spend my time consuming and traveling and running away, but I knew I was just trying to escape the one thing I can never run away from — myself. (By the way, if you believe my thinking is off, check out this article about Markus Persson who found the “empty side of success.” He sold Minecraft for 2.5 billion dollars, then began tweeting things like, “Hanging out in Ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I’ve never felt more isolated.”)
In order to be happy your life needs to have purpose. Despite all the amazing things $32 million dollars (or $2.5 billion) can buy, it can’t buy a meaningful life. That became incredibly clear as I imagined myself on that imaginary Hawaiian beach.
I would need to find something to do with my time, talents, and treasure.
Consider this for yourself. What do you truly need in order to be happy? What’s stopping you?
Peter A Azaare says, “The most frustrated man on the planet Earth is not the poorest, neither is he a man without money, cars or a house. The most frustrated man is he without a true sense of purpose.”
I firmly believe what Einstein so eloquently summarized, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” That’s where beauty, joy and a fulfilling life can be found.
There’s a wonderful scene in Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams’ character is inspiring the young men to discover their voice. He says, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute… We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race… And the human race is filled with passion… And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life… But poetry, beauty, romance, love … these are what we stay alive for. What good amid these, oh me, oh life? Answer. That you are here … that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse… What will your verse be?”
Are you looking for a more meaningful life?
Are you wondering what your contribution can be?
Are you excited to pursue it with passion using your time, talents, treasures — and everything else you have available to you?
What will your verse be?
What would you do with $32 million dollars?
The cool thing about this daydreaming exercise was how it woke me up. I realized it wasn’t more money that would make me happy; it was finding a way to make my contribution. What’s more, it woke up a sense of impatience inside of me. “Well, if that’s what will light me up, why wait?”
Why wait until you retire? or win the lottery? or make enough money to be comfortable? If you know this is what truly fuels you, why wait until later to start living?
Want to discover your life’s purpose? Ask yourself this question: When you are free to do what you really want, what will it be?
Why wait? Pursue.
Want to stay inspired? Can you imagine yourself being happier? Download my free 23-page quote book to keep you centered on what’s going right in your life. Life improves with focus.
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Originally published at medium.com