Imagine waking up knowing that you are building your life with things that make you the happiest in the world.
Have you heard the saying “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away?” William Shakespeare and Pablo Picasso have both been credited authorship to this poignant phrase. Both men have been described as two of the most influential artists of modern culture so it doesn’t matter as much who particularly said it, since they each have a wide repertoire of success to back it. Whoever the author, the phrase is stirring for its simplicity, guidance, and boldness.
It takes a lot of guts to definitively declare the answer to two of humanity’s age-old and most elusive questions: “What is the purpose of life?” and “What is the meaning of life?” People have spent millennia trying to logically deduce and provide sufficient answers to the question, spurring religion, wars, genocide, cleansings and a multitude of academic study worldwide. To purport a definitive answer is incredibly daring.
What is also interesting to me is the explicit relationship of life and service as fundamentally linked. Indeed, the idea of a valid life is pregnant in its implication. Still, in its meekest form, the point of life is not me, you, he, she, it, or they; it is a collective us.
It is beautifully simplistic in its directive – find self, give self, purpose achieved and illusiveness conquered.
Wouldn’t you want to wake up each morning knowing you would feel joy and a sense of real contribution?
Purposeful living is about a feeling of overall alignment and truly experiencing the peace of why you are here on this world. You can see how this would be immeasurably significant: finding a solution to a problem and then telling others how you solve that problem is the basis of business. More than that, these moments are always full of energy and also strongly correspond to the feelings of gratitude and simultaneously wanting to give the gift/craft away -validating Mr. Shakespeare/Mr. Picasso’s idea.
So, how do you find your gift?
Let’s explore an exercise by Patrick Williams and Diane Menendez designed to guide you in learning to tune-in to your life experiences to help you uncover your gift and learn how to live your life continually sharing it.
This is how:
Step 1: Being in the Flow. List 10-12 examples of times you felt you we really living on purpose (aligned and reason why in the world). There are no right or wrong experiences here, just listing times when you felt the overwhelming feeling of “this is what I’m here to do.” A good place to start would be looking at things you do currently and work backwards. You’ll know you’ve hit on it when you’ve felt lighthearted, radiant, euphoric, and excited.
Step 2: Reflecting about your Flow. Write about these examples addressing the following questions:
- What was essential to my sense of being “on purpose?”
- What made it satisfying?
- What was of value for me?
Step 3: Clue in to Commonalities. Highlight key words/phrases that come up more than once to identify common themes. For example, you might notice a specific activity or cause. You might experience strong emotions around a time of year or a season. People might start to fall in to categories or buckets. Take out a few highlighters, underline with a pencil, or make a list.
Step 4: Bring it together. Using the common words and themes you uncovered in Step 3, draft a brief statement of your purpose. Don’t worry if it doesn’t feel right at first, this step is meant for thought and finesse. Understand your purpose is not supposed to be tricky; you will likely notice it is something you have always done.
Step 5: Test it out – do you feel a strong connection? Do you actions line up naturally? Do you feel energized? Do you feel compelled to fulfill it? Does it make you happy?
Step 6: Act it out. Now, what are ways you can try to re-create these scenarios or situations? How can you add value to others using these gifts?
This exercise is meant to be taken at a slower pace and encourages reflection. Don’t panic if it takes a few tries or drafts. Like polishing a rock, the more you work on it the shinier it will become.
To really embrace the concept you must commit to take action.
What are small opportunities you can take to incorporate in to your daily or weekly routine? Is it joining a club or hosting an online community? Is it scheduling time to attend a group meeting, conference, or concert? Do you need to learn a second language? Do you need to start moving? Can you volunteer anywhere? Would you be able to do something in your home? Is there someone willing to mentor you?
Without knowledge, action is useless; and knowledge without action is futile. Schedule time on the calendar for your gift. Do it. Right now.
The happiest people in the world wake up knowing they live their lives with intent and have spent time building the foundations and habits that allow them to live the way they do. They have done the soul-searching, they have noted the patterns, they discovered their values, and they modified their behaviors. Their success has more to do with their choices than with their genius. Align your action with your purpose and you will live a fulfilled and empowered life.