Purpose provides us hope and inspiration.
Purpose gives us an intended, clear direction.
Purpose offers us promise for the future.
Purpose teaches us our values and goals.
Purpose provides us a daily roadmap to follow.
Purpose puts passion into our life.
Purpose gives us control of our destiny.
Purpose is the total source of our spirituality.
Purpose sustains our commitment to achieve.
Purpose creates our self-confidence and self-esteem.
Purpose provides meaning and significance to our life.
Purpose is the basis for our happiness and joy.
Purpose focuses our efforts and gives us perseverance.
Purpose creates productivity by managing time for us.
Purpose provides us balance and harmony.
Purpose is the source of our strength and inner peace.
When we think about the value of our life, we should think about all of our Values, both quantitatively and qualitatively. If we have any Values at all (and few of us would admit that we don’t), then we can measure the meaningfulness of our life by our specific expression of these Values. It would be ludicrous for us to claim that our life has no value and also claim to have certain wants and aspirations. If we desire anything at all, then our life has value.
The problem with those who feel that life has no value is their failure to realize what is really important to them. When we focus on what we do have, cherish or expect in life, we will immediately begin to recognize the value these things bring to our life. If we wallow in self-pity about our meaningless life, we are actually saying that we are too blind or stubborn to see what is right in front of us.
Thus, our inability to see the value of our life is due to our incorrectly focusing on what we don’t have rather than focusing on what we do have. Assuredly, problems will occur in our life that distracts us from what is most important. Events like a serious illness, a broken relationship or financial troubles will tend to command our attention and focus our thoughts in the negative areas of our life. But while these events may require a definite measure of our attention, they certainly don’t mean that the rest of our life went down the drain with them.
We have no right to say that our life has no value simply because we are getting a divorce, losing our job or even getting a terminal illness. While something of value may have been painfully lost, we must still focus on those redeeming Values that we do have. We must recognize the full perspective of a valuable life, not concentrating only on the negative at the expense of the positive. Regardless of our setbacks, our life has tremendous value . . . as long as we accept and stay focused on the Values that belong to us and still cherish.
Our problem is in how we see the problem. We tend to compartmentalize ourselves into separate lives. We have our work life, our family life, our financial life, our social life, etc. We try to take one hat off and put another hat on as the day progresses. This segmentation of our lives into different boxes of activity creates tremendous pressure on us to shift our roles continuously. We become much like that old Ed Sullivan act where the harried performer is balancing multiple plates on long poles. As each begins to fall, he has to run frantically back and forth to keep all of them spinning at the same time.
Doing too many separate things at once keeps us in constant agitation and turmoil. We do a poor job in each role because we are trying to do all the roles at the same time, with each role requiring a different and often conflicting allotment of ourselves and of our time. The solution is to perceive the entire landscape, as a single body of choice, not little bites of activity all occurring at the same time. We need to act as if all of our roles are one and the same, that we are only spinning one large plate at the top of one pole. Gandhi once observed, One man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole.
This is the essence of balanced Purpose. Instead of thinking either/or, we must think of one and the same. As we view and interact with multiple and competing events, we should not treat them as being distinct and separate parts, but rather as a single part woven into the whole of our lives. An ancient Sufi teacher once said, You think because you understand one you must understand two, because one and one makes two. But you must also understand and. This holistic concept means we cannot see the individual parts of a picture without first seeing the whole picture.
How can we do it all? The burden of modern civilization is that we are bombarded with choices, over laden with expectations, confounded by change and stymied by time. Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock has arrived and given us Imminent Shock. We are now faced with a world that is coming at us with blinding speed. We will often find it difficult to keep the balance within ourselves when our external world seems so chaotic and perpetually out-of-balance. But therein rests the secret: Keeping the balance within ourselves while everything around us appears to be out of control.
By focusing within, we gain clarity of Purpose. As turbulent as the outside world appears on the surface, we have the capacity to internally remain calm and balanced. Our Purpose, assisted by our Values, become our gyroscope and steadies us even as our landscape is continually moving. By remaining attentive to what is most important to us, we can sort through the clutter in our lives and focus only upon that which really matters.
Many things will compete for our attention, but only the key priorities that are congruent with our Purpose and our Values need to be our concern, i.e. only those things that are important need to be managed and controlled. By recognizing this, we can set our own pace. And we can then control ourselves rather than allowing our external world to be in control of us.
Our personal growth is the process of transforming with change. As we receive Wake Up Calls at several points in our lives, we will see that our challenge will be to convert to new ways of thinking. Having a strong Purpose to propel us forward will smooth the bumps and ease the pain of the process.
So why do we dread these awakenings? Is it because we prefer our comfort zone, the life that conforms to our existing habits and allows us to take the path of least resistance? No doubt, it is difficult to let go of what we are comfortable with, but it is this process of letting go that allows us to experience and enjoy new parts of ourselves.
Without letting go, we remain in the rut. It is said that the only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions. And if we do not look above the edges of the rut, we will only see the walls of the grave that imprison us.
Therefore, managing change is the act of transforming by choice. This requires active decision making on our part, where we’re always seeking new solutions to our life. But if we welcome change the solutions will quickly follow.
A strange paradox of life is that the more we attempt to perfect it, the more imperfect it seems to become. At first, this paradox would seem to imply that life is hopeless. But it is precisely this imperfection that makes it so interesting and promising. From birth to death, life is a continuum of change – an ongoing series of events, happenings, and transitions. We are born as a bundle of potentiality. We grow and learn. We face challenges and obstacles. We experience the good and the bad, hope and despair, happiness and sadness. We mature from these experiences and develop a much richer understanding of our Purpose in life.
Having a clear Purpose and faith in ourselves will help us navigate the twists and turns of life. Life is never going to move in a straight line. It will never be predictable at any point in time. It spirals continuously, from some place we have been to some place we are going. To keep pace with these constant transitions we must always be aware of our Purpose as we confront the challenges of change and self-renewal. We can manage the effect of life’s paradoxes by first recognizing and accepting their inevitability and then by making Purposeful choices to manage them. Since we have unlimited opportunities to do so we have an open invitation to make life more significant and worthwhile. The one thing we cannot do is stand still.
The quest for time should be equal to our quest for life. In reality they are one and the same, with each deserving the same reverence and respect. Our time should be viewed for what it really is, a finite resource. We cannot create more of it; we cannot live it over; and we cannot save it for another day. It happens and then it is gone. It is the ultimate equalizer for all of mankind, with kings and paupers being allotted an equal amount, to either use wisely or to waste.
Our difficulty with time mastery is due to its internal paradoxes. We live as if there are infinite tomorrows, then mourn the fact there is never enough time to do all the things we need to do today. We set aside time for ourselves; then squander it relentlessly. We plead for more of it; then procrastinate until there is no time left. Time seems to race when we are enjoying ourselves and then tediously plods along when we must do something we dislike. As children, we sense it moving slowly, then as adults complain at how quickly it passes with each new birthday.
The quest for time in our lives remains one of our greatest challenges. We never seem to know how to get a grip on this thing called time, even though it has been around since day one. With generations of experience behind us, we should be time management experts by now. We have learned how to relate to it by measuring it with clocks and calendars. We read time management books, go to seminars and buy time organizers to plot out our daily priorities. We know about time from seasons, from bodily functions and from scientific inquiry. We know from physics that time curves through space and we know how fast light travels in one calendar year. We even have clichés and rules to guide our use of time, such as a stitch in time saves nine, time stands still for no man, time is of the essence and there is no time like the present.
Yet with all of our insights and with all of our rules, we are still dissatisfied about our use of time. Our inability to manage time in our lives is not through our lack of knowledge nor in the manner of how it affects our lives. Our poor time utilization is simply due to our inability to equate our needs with our time requirements. Our failure in time management often stems from our doing too much, from taking too little or too much time to do it, and even from doing things at the wrong time. But most importantly, we are not doing the things that matter the most to us. Essentially, our time clock is not synchronized with our Purpose, our Values and our Mission. Once it is, we will find that we have plenty of time.
A simple life is where we are simply living! It is nothing more and nothing less. When we are in touch with just the simple process of living, relishing in the uncomplicated pleasures that are abundantly available to us, we will find the inner peace that we are seeking.
A simple life focuses on what we do have rather than being critical of what we don’t have. It finds less joy in material possessions and greater joy in natural wonders, hearty laughter, warm embraces, stimulating conversations and long walks in the woods. It values ideas over things, peaceful meditation over argumentative debates, reading over television, quiet solitude over pushy crowds and lasting trends over temporary fads.
The simple life favors giving more than receiving. It is to live humbly with pride, rather than ostentatiously without virtue. A simple life knows what is most important, content with the quiet conviction of lasting principals.
Our fascination with stuff is not the problem. It is the lifestyle that we must pursue to acquire, maintain and manage our stuff. All of this stuff is the antithesis to a sane, balanced and purposeful life. While we tend to believe that our happiness emanates from our possessions it is, in fact, these same possessions that become the bane and curse to a joyful and meaningful life.
According to Elaine St. James, Wise men and women in every major culture throughout history have found that the secret to happiness is not in getting more but in wanting less.
Only when we make it our Purpose to not make stuff the measure of our contentment, will we truly understand how simply beautiful (and beautifully simple) life can be lived.
Thinking and living simply is not a character flaw, a weakness of drive and ambition; rather, it is vigorous, inspiring, courageous and reflective of our conviction of Purpose. Life and happiness is not made from stuff; it is a state of mind, made from the interwoven fabric of purposeful attitudes and the belief that life, in itself and by itself, is sufficient and plentiful. Our most meaningful rewards in life will always be the simplest ones.