“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”Viktor Frankl
I would not be so bold as to say this myself, but knowing it comes from holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl makes me sit up and pay attention. Life is only made unbearable by lack of meaning and purpose. Pause. Exhale. Perhaps Frankl is just exceptional. I look for other evidence of the truth that life is never made unbearable by circumstances only by a lack of meaning and purpose.
“Purpose was what compelled me to keep coming back deployment after deployment as a SEAL, despite being shot on multiple deployments, enduring more parachute malfunctions than I care to admit and losing more friends than some people can count. Yet, despite it all, I kept coming back, because that was my purpose, and I wasn’t done yet. I say this not to toot my own horn but to demonstrate the power of purpose.”Jeff Boss
“Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.”Nick Vujicic
I’m no holocaust survivor or navy seal. I don’t have to face life without limbs, but I do know having a sense of purpose has helped me get through some tough times.
Small p Purpose
Sometimes the purpose has a small “p” like, I’m going to bake bread, learn something new or do a puzzle. These small “p” purposeful activities can help carry us through, especially if they are connected to our values. I’m going to bake bread today because I value being creative. I’m going to learn something new today because I value ongoing growth and development. I’m going to do a puzzle because I value determination, perseverance and focus. If we see these small goals as connected to our values, they become not just busy work but purposeful.
Big P Purpose
Sometimes the purpose has a big “P”. Purpose makes us feel we are part of something bigger, something significant. Big P purpose is about feeling like we are doing something we were created to do. It is linked to what we think is important. It utilizes who we are and what we care about to solve some problem in the world or heal some kind of wound.
In his article in Psychology Today, Dr. Taylor writes about purpose.
“… purpose often makes us less self-centred. We feel a part of something bigger, something outside ourselves, and this makes us less focused on our own worries and anxieties. Our own problems seem less significant, and we spend less time thinking about them, and so our sense of well-being increases.”
“Related to this, purpose is closely linked to ‘flow’ — the state of intense absorption in which we forget our surroundings and ourselves. If you have a strong sense of purpose, you’re likely to experience flow more frequently. And as Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi has shown, flow is a powerful source of well-being. The more flow we experience, the happier we feel.”Steve Taylor Ph.D. , http://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/out-the-darkness/201307/the-power-purpose
I remember feeling a great sense of big P purpose when starting this blog. It helped me get through a very intense time of loss and stress, along with calling me to dare to be visible and vulnerable. There was a great sense of purpose in doing this, not just for my self development, but also for the sake of others. Stepping beyond the shadows, metaphorically, was about wanting to live consciously and not let fear rule me.
After facing a health crisis that felt life-threatening, I had a great sense of loss and grief as I reflected on my life and found significant periods where I felt like I had drifted through unconsciously and somewhat aimlessly. I saw long periods where avoiding fear and anxiety obscured a lot of what I cared about. The grief in looking back was feeling like I had wasted so much time.
When the head of oncology told me I needed surgery and fast, I got my wake-up call. That’s what this blog, Beyond the Shadow, is about – being woken up. That is what my coaching practice is about. It’s about me wanting to live consciously and purposefully. It’s about me wanting you to do the same. That’s it. It’s me saying to you, don’t waste your life. Figure it out. Find what matters and do it. Don’t let fear of failure, fear of not being enough, fear of not doing the right thing or fear of what others will think stop you. If you get to the end of that life – the one where you drift through unconscious or are driven by fear, you’re going to be full of regret.
Find your Purpose. Fill your days with purposeful activities. That doesn’t mean busy work, it means to allow what you spend your time on reflect what you value. If people matter, spend time caring about others and showing them that you care. If your health matters, choose some regular activities that promote your health. If there is some aspect of the world we live in that gets under your skin, find a way to get involved and change things. Make a difference. Just do it.
“The two most important days in life are the day you born and the day you discover the reason why.”Mark Twain
This Week’s Photos
Let us break the deadlock and stop doom-scrolling into the narrative of a fluctuating landscape of dispiriting thoughts…but, instead, invite the flowers of compassion to blossom in our hearts and our minds and overwhelm us with a spray of vibrant petals of well-being.Erik Pevernagie
These are all pictures I’ve taken on my walks this past week. Spring is reminding us there is a season for flourishing.
Do you want to live consciously and purposefully? Let me help you. Connect with me about coaching.