Life Purpose: It’s a topic on the minds of many. It’s a question (and an industry) that’s like the siren’s song, luring us into its depths. What is this yearning really about?
I don’t think the question of life purpose is as deep as we make it out to be. I think what drives the question, frustrates, and confuses us about this is more about how we want to feel about ourselves than anything else, but we seem to miss that target more than we aim at and hit it. I think this is because we don’t know that it’s a real and worthy target. Nor do we want to feel guilty about or uncomfortable with our choices regarding this matter. Often, we convince ourselves there’s only One Right Choice, which scares the hell out of us. This choice isn’t supposed to be like choosing the red pill or the blue pill in The Matrix movie.
What led me to this topic was a thought process I was entertaining myself with, wondering why some people are more compelled to explore and move toward and into spiritual realization and some are more compelled toward financial and assets gain (legally or illegally attained), with little to no focus on spirituality. Is one path better or more valid than the other? I don’t have the wisdom of Source, so won’t even attempt to answer that question. In fact, it may be a useless question, like “why” often is. However, I have some thoughts about this that I’m comfortable sharing.
We know that one of the Universal Laws is Polarity. This means that everything has a duality about it, has its pair of opposites that are identical in nature but different in degree (e.g., hot and cold are polarities of temperature). The Law of Polarity is a mutable law, which means whatever goes on can be transcended. For example, there are positive and negative thoughts, but both are thoughts, and either of them can be shifted. If things are not going well, you can shift your thoughts so that you aren’t overwhelmed by your negative thoughts and can affirm Truths that lift you up. If things are going well, you can sabotage yourself with negative thinking. Polarity keeps momentum going so that stagnation doesn’t occur. We are meant to be stimulated into inner and or outer action by the polarities we experience.
Back to life purpose or what we’re meant to do in this life. What if your driving question is how to attain more money and stuff, and the spirituality aspect takes a backseat or isn’t even in the car? It’s possible you’re attuned to having a primarily physical-material experience in this lifetime—for your own soul’s purposes, whatever they may be. If this is your path, this driving force in your life is but a line on the abundance-prosperity polarity graph. Maybe it’s extreme for you and you must become or do become a millionaire or billionaire. Maybe it’s moderate. Maybe it’s low, at the other end of the spectrum. Perhaps along the way, or in your more mature years, your spiritual aspect quietly nudges you to ask how you, in your physical-material mindset, can contribute to your life and the lives of others, and how you (and maybe others) can evolve as a result. After all, you could be a generous, caring billionaire who does numerous large and small truly good works from the heart, and never consciously or deliberately entertain a spirituality-related thought in this lifetime.
What if your driving question is about how you can contribute to your life and the lives of others as well as have a deeply spiritual experience in a physical-material environment? This may lead you to shift back and forth between figuring out how to exist and evolve in both, for your own soul’s purposes. You may find yourself on the extreme end of this measuring stick and be the person who meditates in a cave and relies on others to bring food, water, and other supplies to you. Or you may feel that trying to do both materiality and spirituality creates contradictions within you—because you question the importance of doing what helps sustain you and your life versus pursuing or attaining spiritual realization. Your question about this may block the balance you can experience so that you have all you need in both areas. We see it all the time: the spirituality-based person who struggles to sustain his or her life. Not only is their struggle an inner one, but an outer one as well: there are people who question why such people charge for their services, and believe the services should be free or nominal because they are spiritual in nature. However, no one argues about fees with a plumber when they need one.
You might assess the two “paths” above as polarities, but both contribute to our unified experiences of life. We cannot all sit in caves, figuratively and or literally speaking. We cannot all focus solely on tangible and financial assets. Both materiality and spirituality are needed for life to flourish. Whichever one of these polarity paths you fit into at this time, we are all meant to process experiences and evolve in some measure as a result of them.
It’s up to each of us to figure out how we will express ourselves while here. And this may be in one way or a number of ways. But it is about what we enjoy, what we are good at, what we are interested in, short-term and or long-term, and what and how we contribute to a few or the many. And what we contribute may be in some large or grand way or through numerous small kindnesses that ripple outward in a returns-to-you and a pay-it-forward sort of way.
I’ve had a number of incarnations in this lifetime. I started out as a singer, winning awards and scholarships, and training for the opera. Then amid other make-a-living-based and life experiences, I became an artist in three mediums and did 600 pieces of art in 5 years. There were gallery showings with awards and where all my art sold, individual and corporate commissions, retail shops with sales, and a few individuals who collected my work. Then I got into writing and editing, with a stretch as a life empowerment coach thrown into the middle of this. These days, I balance my place in that second description above (physical-spiritual) by writing my weekly articles—like the one you’re reading now—and include them in my weekly newsletter that also highlights the spirituality-based works of guest experts each week. But the other thing I do, which helps sustain my life and my passion for words and the tapestries they weave, is services for writers, especially new writers. This work drives my bus! Simultaneous to this, I’m always increasing, expanding, and evolving my spiritual solidity and spiritual realization, which also drives my bus. I no longer question which one is to have more importance (I used to do that). I’ve landed in the flowering field of whole-beingness: Everything I do contributes something, in some way, to me and to others. I grasp the importance of both materiality and spirituality for this experience I’m having, just as one coin has two sides. I’ve become keenly aware that I cannot do one without affecting or influencing the other.
I share some of my own story so you can see that you can follow your path in your own way. You are meant to. Your path can lead you until the moment you’re ready to lead yourself and choose what it is you wish to do that fulfills you on all levels or on as many levels as possible for the moment or for a lifetime. What you are meant to do is find your bliss, as Joseph Campbell said. Only you know or can determine what that is. And it may not be in one way only. What you’re meant to do—your life purpose—is a feeling, not an action or a thing or a person. Find your feeling. It’s your song, your dance, your life. And it will influence whatever you choose to do and how you choose to express it.
One line of dialogue said by Professor Dumbledore to Harry Potter that always speaks to me is this: “It is not our abilities that show who we are, but our choices.” You can have stellar skills, talents, and abilities and waste them or be too afraid to explore and demonstrate them for your benefit and or the benefit of others. You can be great at what you do and also be an assoholic. You can do one thing or a number of things well that provides enough income to keep you surviving or thriving and also be a person others love, respect, trust, rely on, and want the company of. You can show people what you can do and you can show people who you are. Your choices will do that by default, anyway.
Rather than wondering so much about what you should be doing or showing others what you can do so you earn approval, focus more on who you want to be and show yourself, as well as others, who you really are. And if you make or have made choices you wish you hadn’t or regret, forgive yourself; decide to choose a better way if ever faced with a similar choice. You always have the choice to do and be better.
Stephen Covey said, "But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, "I choose otherwise." What we are meant to do in this life is makes choices, preferably conscious ones rather than reactive ones; though, we usually (hopefully) realize at some point that this is part of our path we are here to travel. We can makes choices that support us or seemingly don’t. I say seemingly don’t, because sometimes you get where you’re going by traveling a back road rather than a superhighway. We can make choices that contribute to one or many others, or choices that detract. Choose to contribute in ways appropriate for you and for others. Sometimes what this means to you requires you to figure it out for yourself, but it’s a terrific form of GPS for a more satisfying life.
Choices are stepping stones on our path of experiences. The ones we choose to step on determine our destination. Whatever we choose, we live with the consequences or desired results of our choices. You might say that what you are meant to do is choose who you wish to be and be who you are meant to be, for your own purposes and based on how you intend to feel about yourself and your life, so that you align your choices with that. It’s a good practice, one you’ll appreciate.
Practice makes progress.
© Joyce L. Shafer
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Joyce L. Shafer is a Life Empowerment Coach dedicated to helping people feel, be, and live their true inner power. She’s author of “I Don’t Want to be Your Guru, But I Have Something to Say” and other books/e-books, and publishes a free weekly online newsletter that offers empowering articles. See all that’s offered by Joyce and on her site at http://stateofappreciation.weebly.com