“Life is truly what you make it. The purpose and meaning of life is the purpose and meaning that you give it” — Steven Redhead
Life doesn’t come with a rule book. With over 7 billion people living on earth, it would be impossible to determine a one size fits all formula for success and happiness. The ironic thing is, while most people don’t doubt that everyone’s definition of happiness is different, they still seem to be willing to sacrifice their own version of happiness in order to fit in with society’s version, or the version that their parents lived.
Many people are just going through the motions. As long as there is a paycheck coming in, they don’t think too much about what they really want out of life. They are content at just making a living. Unfortunately, in this quest to just make a living, many people forget how to make a life. In order to discover our own personal formula for how to make a life for ourselves, it is important for us to focus on one question: “What is my purpose?”
This question may be harder to answer than we think. It forces us to become self-aware which can not only be uncomfortable, but also difficult considering most of our decisions are happening so automatically that we don’t even realize the “why” behind them. However hard it may be, by doing this we allow ourselves to take a more active role in how our life will go instead of sitting back and watching it pass by. Here are some important questions to ask yourself to help you determine whether you are ultimately working towards your version of a fulfilling life:
1) How do I define Success?
The definition of success will vary widely amongst people and cultures, but it is important to determine whether or not we are relying on external factors to determine our success or internal factors. While it is not wrong or “bad” to desire financial abundance, or a big home or an expensive car, it is important not to depend on these things in order to feel “successful”.
Truly successful people know that health of mind/body/spirit is the true mark of a successful person, because with health in these three areas, they know they are happy. Happiness will naturally attract to us a job that we love, which will make us more prone to financial abundance, if that is what we desire.
2) What is my purpose for wanting a relationship?
In order to attract a healthy relationship, we must examine the reason behind the desire for one. Many people make the mistake of trying to escape loneliness as the reason or maybe they think they need validation from another person. Either way, they open themselves up to a quantity over quality issue, which usually ends in disappointment. The happiest and healthiest of relationships start with two people who feel whole and complete on their own and decide to start building a life with each other because they actually enjoy one another’s company.
When the purpose of the relationship is to enhance an already happy existence instead of filling some sort of void, we find that we only stay in relationships that are aiding in our self-growth. The purpose behind the relationship becomes more about companionship instead of co-dependency.
3) Do I have a vision for how I want my life to be?
To have a vision or a goal of how we want our life to ultimately be will help us out tremendously. It makes the everyday grind much more tolerable. For example, a person may have to work at a job they don’t truly love for a while but when they know deep down they are working towards their ultimate goal of let’s say, being an actor, they won’t begrudge their day job so much.
They know deep down that they only are doing this job until they get their big break so the mundane job they have now doesn’t seem so terrible. When we set a vision for our lives we subconsciously start working towards it every day. You can write down what your vision is for your ultimate dream life or even create a vision board that you look at daily, once you know WHAT you are working towards you, the HOW will start to reveal itself. Also, you will start to feel excited about getting there as opposed to just working mindlessly with no end in sight.
4) Am I doing things because I want to do them, or because I have to do them?
It may sound selfish to only do things you WANT to do, but it’s actually the best thing you can ever do for yourself and the people around you. When the purpose is fear, for example, “I’ll do this because I’m afraid so and so will be mad at me if I don’t” or “I’m afraid of how I will look to someone else if I say no, so I’ll just do whatever they want me to do,” we live a life that is not genuine.
We start being a people pleaser instead of paying attention to our own individual needs. However, when we start engaging only in activities that we truly want to do, or that will bring us joy, we allow other people in our lives the freedom to do the same.
Suddenly we find ourselves surrounded by friendships and relationships with people who actually want to be there for us, or help us out instead of people who are doing it out of obligation. Conversely we do the same. We start to help and be there for our friends because we get genuine joy out of it, instead of just doing it because we feel guilty not to.
An examined life is the best way to go about working towards our goals. If we have no inkling as to the reasons behind our behaviors how can we ever expect to change them? When we do start to bring awareness into our day to day actions we find that we hold the key to our own happiness. Yes it will require constant mindfulness and questioning of ourselves but in the end we will constantly be working towards the life we want instead of in the other direction.