“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
~ Mary Oliver
My mom died when I was sixteen and I used it as an excuse to move aimlessly through life until I was thirty, when my dad died. Oh, it’s not like I was trying to live without purpose, but I certainly wasn’t mindful about actually living on purpose.
At sixteen I understood how precious life really was, I just didn’t know what to do with that information—what sixteen-year-old does? At thirty, with my father’s death imminent, I understood the importance of living my one wild and precious life on purpose. Each of my parents gave me the gift of death. By surviving their deaths I’ve been able to better understand what’s important for me—about me—as I move through life.
From my mother’s death I learned the importance of being in a nurturing, supportive relationship, one with partnership that is not trying to be better than the other, that is always trying to bring the best out of each other. I also learned of the many ‘bests’ to be brought out, both of myself and others.
From my father’s death I learned the importance of being true to myself and honoring my life’s purpose. I learned the importance of taking action on that purpose so it doesn’t sit stale at the bottom of my heart collecting dust while I allow life to pass me by.
Living life on purpose isn’t about finding your purpose in life, although, by living on purpose, your purpose in life becomes more apparent.
Living on purpose means being intentional in your actions.
Living on purpose means taking responsibility for your actions.
When you can do those two things, you’re living on purpose.
Live from the inside out, not the other way around.
I spent sixteen through thirty living from the outside in. Learning what others wanted, needed of me, and then churning that out so they’d be happy. If they were happy, I was happy. Until, of course, I wasn’t happy at all.
I’ve spent the better part of the last decade learning what it means to live from the inside out. Learning what I want me of, what I need of me, and then churning that out so I’d be happy. If I’m happy, I’m happy, right? (And don’t get caught up with others’ happiness being important, too. Just put on your own oxygen mask first.)
So then when you find yourself in an unhappy spot you don’t have to look any further than inside yourself. This isn’t about blaming yourself for anything, it’s about being present and realigning with your values (and purpose in life) today.
Here’s how you address your values and start living on purpose:
- Journal. Write 750 words per day. Sift through your words, looking for expressions of emotion. Anger, sadness, frustration, ecstasy, gratitude, happiness, etc. Pay attention to what you’re feeling. What are you longing for more of in your life? Write down a list of five things you could do TODAY to relieve that longing. Do at least one of the things on that list.
- Do one thing every day that makes you happy. Doing one thing every day that makes you happy does two things: 1) it makes you happy; 2) it puts you in control of your own happiness. Bonus: it reinforces the habit of both being happy and being in control of that happiness. Living on purpose is about making conscious, intentional choices—actively choose what makes you happy.
- Meditate. Mediate daily—whether it’s 30 seconds or 30 minutes. Use the time to reflect on your day, your week, your month, your moment. Use it to release your day and start fresh, to create intentions for your day, to center yourself. Meditation helps you actively create space for your happiness, your purpose, your authentic self—or whatever your version of living on purpose is.
Be intentional with these three things for two weeks and notice the difference you see in yourself, your attitude, your happiness.
If you just sit back and wait for the life you’ve always wanted to just pop up in front of you, you’re going to miss out on your actual life. Consciously create a vision for what you want your life to look like, then be intentional about going out there and making it happen.
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