Here is the thing about me, by nature I’m a really laid back kind of girl, who doesn't get overwhelmed with things and doesn't let difficulties get to her. Somehow that girl got lost on the way and one day in my 20's I realized that I became overly goal-oriented with a bad habit of worrying too much.
After this realization I spent the last few years trying to restore myself and rediscover my old ways. I made a conscious effort to resist following the conventional path, despite the world trying to force all things bigger, better and faster onto me. It’s been a long journey, since learned habits tend to stick, but every now and then I stumble upon an article that gives me that extra encouragement and a push into the right direction.
A few weeks ago, David asked his readers to send in essays about their lives' purpose and the way they found it. Expecting most to write the usual clichés of our high-achieving culture of big dreams and ambitious goals, he actually got gobsmacked by the number of people who found their purpose by going the other way, by pursuing the small, happy life. Two of those stories totally hit home for me:
Elizabeth Young once heard the story of a man who was asked by a journalist to show his most precious possession. The man, Young wrote, “was proud and excited to show the journalist the gift he had been bequeathed. A banged up tin pot he kept carefully wrapped in cloth as though it was fragile. The journalist was confused, what made this dingy old pot so valuable? ‘The message,’ the friend replied. The message was ‘we do not all have to shine.’ This story resonated deeply. In that moment I was able to relieve myself of the need to do something important, from which I would reap praise and be rewarded with fulfillment. My vision cleared.”
“Perhaps,” she concludes, “the mission is not a mission at all. Everywhere there are tiny, seemingly inconsequential circumstances that, if explored, provide meaning” and chances to be generous and kind. Spiritual and emotional growth happens in microscopic increments.
Terence J. Tollaksen wrote that his purpose became clearer once he began to recognize the “decision trap”: "This trap is an amazingly consistent phenomena whereby ‘big’ decisions turn out to have much less impact on a life as a whole than the myriad of small seemingly insignificant ones."
It's so good to know that I'm not alone in the way I want to live my life and despite loving the occasional seat in the fast lane, I will always prefer a simple moment. My biggest fear is waking up at age 85 to realize that I spent my life chasing dreams, and even if some came true, they didn't actually make me happy, because I never stopped to enjoy and feel the things that matter most.
So, now your turn, tell me what is your purpose in life? How do you live it?
P.S: Your happiness makes your friends happy, too.
P.P.S: Life lessons and undone...
(Quotes via The New York Times. Photos by/via André Josselin, Sasha Juliard, Things of Interest, Diana Pappas)