“There are two great days in a person’s life ÔÇô the day we are born and the day we discover why.” William Barclay said that and he was right.
Even if you rarely ponder the meaning of life, it is an exceptional human being who has never asked themselves why they are here. Most people instinctively understand how important they really are; and they realize they came to this earth to fulfill a purpose.
In our hearts, we each know what we want to be, do and have more than anything in the world. However, with time, we learned to bury our desires under a mountain of regrets and disappointments. First, the bad news: if you’ve ever harboured a desire for growth or success of any kind, that desire is never going to go away until it becomes fulfilled. So it’s no use declaring that you no longer want to become a world-class athlete, or a visionary businessman. Once your mind has expanded in a certain direction, you have to follow it and make your dreams a reality, in order to be happy.
Now the good news: this is easier than you think! Joining the small group of men and women who are following their bliss is less threatening than we have lead ourselves to believe. But how do we do this?
If you’re like most people, you have become quite adept at identifying what you don’t want, rather than what you do want. So take some time to think about this question right now: what do you really want? What gives you a flutter of excitement in your stomach every time you think about it? It’s the most important question you’ll ever have to answer.
If you’re having trouble with this, think back to the last time you found yourself completely absorbed in a certain activity; when you were so engaged in what you were doing,, you didn’t notice the hours go by, what were you doing?
Even if you can’t recall a specific experience, have you noticed how your attention naturally gravitates in a certain direction? Perhaps you regularly see yourself on a stage speaking to a large audience; or healing people, or working with children in some way. Notice how effortlessly your thoughts around the subjects you love flow. Pay attention to these thoughts, for they provide you with vital clues about where your purpose lies.
What we find ourselves regularly thinking about is not only an indication of our passions, but also of our natural abilities. For example, it’s doubtful that Amantle Montsho spent much time dreaming of becoming a computer programmer; anymore than Pharrell Williams dreamt of becoming a politician. From an early age, both nurtured and pursued the respective gifts that we now revere them for ÔÇô one became a world class athlete and the other a musical phenomenon. Both are fulfilling their destinies.
For many of us, it’s far easier to tell ourselves that we are happy. We may have well-paying jobs, beautiful spouses and large social circles. Yet if a feeling of dissatisfaction continues to gnaw away at you, ask yourself why? See it as a useful reminder that you may not be fulfilled; and that there are greater things in your future that you could accomplish by following your passions.
Living the life of your dreams starts with simply identifying what makes you happy; thinking about it regularly; and acting on the inspiration that comes your way to make it a reality.
If you like the sound of that, try this exercise devised by Chris and Janet Attwood, authors of The Passion Test.
Sit in silence for a few moments and ask yourself what you really want. Listen to your heart for the answers. Next, make a list of ten things you feel most passionate about ÔÇô becoming a positive leader, serving your community or having more free time – whatever lights you up.
Allow this list to sit for a while and come back to it later, making any adjustments as may be necessary.
Next, prioritize your passions, numbering each from one to ten. Don’t feel guilty about prioritizing certain things over others ÔÇô at this juncture, the most important thing is to follow your heart and honour your desires. Also, remember that this is not a do-or-die situation – you can always come back to this list and modify it every few months to make sure it is still aligned with your passions. Just be honest with yourself about what’s most important to you right now.
Next, make a list of your top five passions and place it in strategic places around your home where you’ll be forced to look at it every day ÔÇô on your bathroom mirror, your fridge and even inside your wallet. Remember, what you focus your attention on grows.
Finally, take action towards your passions, however small. The more your action throughout the day is aligned with your passions, the more on purpose your life will feel and the happier you’ll be!
*Primrose Oteng is a Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) and the Founder of the ‘Positive Peace Project,’ an organization dedicated to creating positive change through personal empowerment. For more on how we can assist you, visit www.positivepeaceproject.co.bw
To request for your free copy of The Passion Test, write to [email protected]