The last six months of my life have seen a lot of change and upheaval and this has challenged many of my values and beliefs, it has also afforded me the opportunity to take stock of who I am, what I want and where I am going.
In the summer I will become 50 years old, and although that doesn’t bother me, it does bother me that even after 49 years on this planet I can’t articulate exactly what I want, what is my mission or my purpose in life? (Not work).
Do I even need one?
One of my favourite quotes is from Alan Watts who says;
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
And Dr. Wayne Dyer says;
“In response to the question What should I do with my life?, I suggest that there’s only one thing you can do with it, since you came into this life with nothing and you’ll leave with nothing: You can give it away. You’ll feel most on purpose when you’re giving your life away by serving others. When you’re giving to others, to your planet, and to your Source, you’re being purposeful.”
All well and good, but how do you do these things? Are they even right? Plus, it’s OK to write these things when you are already successful and have money so you can stop worrying about life!
Any how, my thought for the day is “What is my life purpose?”
So, here are some of my musings as I explore the differing, yet interconnected aspects of my mission statement or life’s purpose;
Emotions & feelings
Surely, this must under-pin everything? I seem to always be seeking a feeling, an emotion or some kind of visceral confirmation that life is good, or I am good or that experience was good, or getting that new car was good etc.. Or perhaps another way to look at it may be looking to avoid a feeling or an emotion that I might say was bad or uncomfortable like guilt, shame or loss?
Therefore, it would make sense (as the Buddhists do) to stop classifying outcomes and accept good or bad with equanimity and resist using any specific outcomes as the arbitrator of my emotions, such as, “I will be happy if I win and sad if I lose.” Because in these scenarios I am basically saying “I am not in charge of my emotions – something outside of me is……” Therefore the world would need to be different for me to be happy and that sounds like too much hard work!
I also know that my body responds to my thoughts (conscious or unconscious thoughts) as if they were real, for example, sexy thoughts might give me sexy feelings even though it is only in my imagination, and thinking about a scary thing (worrying) may make me feel anxious, even though it is only in my head (although the topic may be true.)
Coupled with the thoughts, are my values and beliefs about who I ought to be and how I ought to behave – even how I ought to think! I have done a lot of work defining and understanding my beliefs, but I know there is still more to do as I slowly let them all go – I feel deeply that it must be possible to let go of all beliefs and all conditioned responses about who I ought to be that were ingrained by my parents, school, religion and my life’s experiences. I suppose, once I have let go of these, I may be said to have let go of my ego? And at that point it doesn’t really matter what happens “out there” or what anybody says or does?
So, I suppose a quiet mind would equal calm emotions and a tranquil experience, and this could be quite blissful, assuming I had ended my need for any particular outcome from any particular experience?
Love is a big one for me, it is something I want to have, to experience and to give and I have spent a lot of time exploring what I think it is and what it isn’t. Currently I am single (for the first time in over 28 years) and in this time alone I have spent a lot of time looking at it from many angles and love is a huge part of my life that needs to be experienced fully.
Every self help book I ever read said -“to be able to love fully, first you must fully love yourself.” Of course, I understood that but it is only in the last 5 years I have finally let go of all my (well, most of it) dogma and started to unconditionally love myself.
I used to have old beliefs that said it was vain to love yourself or narcissistic or selfish etc. etc. No, it’s fine, it’s beautiful and it feels nice. And to still love myself if I lose, or if a person leaves me or when a silly voice in my head says I am an idiot – at these times I just silently love myself unconditionally, I found this to be very liberating – and, in addition, I no longer need other people to act in a certain way so I would feel love for myself! (I guess you would call that old way conditional love?)
I have tried very hard over the past few years to try and just accept (love) everybody just the way they are (a big call!) Why? Because I don’t want to have big stories in my mind that judges them and tries to change them or control, which ultimately would make me angry, stressed, controlling or disappointed! This has worked well for me (emotionally) although I have had to let go of my judgements and my need for them to change, thus my beliefs have had to change, along with many of my opinions – letting go of many of my opinions was difficult, however, by factoring in perspective, differing points of view and understanding the naivety of most humans has made it simpler, plus, who’s to say my opinions are right anyway!
I have a theory that the majority of conversations and debates (outside of work) are no more than a way of spending time with another person (love) and I think you can do that silently, respectfully, playfully or full on, but it would be good to have the choice.
My own experience of this way of being (unconditionally loving) can often confuse others, if I am not doing drama it may be construed as indifference, or if I am quiet, that I am not interested – well, I have to accept that they may not get it and just let it go.
So my fist two topics, love and emotions are really one and the same, they are something that I can own (still a work in progress) and a way of being that I am working towards – leading to a gentle feeling of equanimity in all I do.
Work & play
It has become clear to me that my work needs to be an extension of doing what I love doing, the way I love doing it – and the enjoyment of how I earn money is equally as important as the enjoyment of how I might spend that money in my non-working life (playing). There should be little or no separation between the two worlds and my attitudes (and values) within each.
Through my meditation techniques, as I go through each day, I try to remain as much in the “Now” as possible – dwelling in the past negatively causes depression, and dwelling on past successes cause regret or lack, in addition, projecting the future negatively causes anxiety. There is only this moment now and what is happening now, where my attention is right now, where my focus is right now, what I am thinking right now, who is around me right now, what is the weather right now.
Therefore, work and play, each need to be lived in the now, making the most of what is in front of me right now and where I choose to place my attention right now, of course there needs to be direction and intentions, but the real “doing” happens right now.
My life purpose – (first attempt)
Is to experience as much of my life “living in the now” as possible, to be loving and kind to myself and others, whilst avoiding drama and control. To have equanimity and the intention to remain in a calm emotional state where possible. To blur the edges between work and play, and in each aspect of my life be doing things that excite, please and inspire me. To be inquisitive and have the courage to sample life in its many aspects, whilst, loving and caring for my body as it is my tool for pleasure and interaction on this planet. My life purpose is, quite simply, to have a great emotional experience with a quiet mind not telling me otherwise!
I will give this some more thought and update it as new ideas arise……