Most of us believe that we were born with a purpose in life. We may not have found it yet or we might have abandoned previous ones in search of others. As previously discussed, we have proceeded through life with working, marriage, having children, and enjoying life. These things gave us most of what we needed at the time, but they have likely changed considerably. I believe that our purposes then served us well and provided a gateway to finding our purpose, passion, and meaning now. In other words, our purpose today has even greater meaning for us because we achieved our purpose of yesterday with passion and love.
“Only when one can love like the eagle–with no audience whatsoever–can one turn to another in love: only then is one able to care about the enlargement of the other’s being.” Irvin D. Yalom in When Nietzsche Wept
“The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled
“Your life purpose is about you. It is a tangible, practical, everyday way to be that evolves over time as you mature. It is not just a new age, cheesy, flaky, peace and love statement. It is the greatness of who you are taking meaningful action. This is how you stay healthy and happy. Then and only then does your energy ripple out to make the world a better place.”
― Diana Dentinger, Modus Vivendi: Your Life Your Way
We come alive when we are doing what feels right for us. The important thing is to do it, don’t just think about what might be. Find your purpose, your passion, your meaning in life by looking for it. If you believe that you have found it, put it to a test of how you really feel about it and what you are doing with it. Be the person you have always wanted to be. The following quotes provide insight into what passion is all about. They come from Inc.com. There are more on the website.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman
“A successful life is one that is lived through understanding and pursuing one’s own path, not chasing after the dreams of others.” Chin-Ning Chu
“There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” Les Brown
“The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.” Ferdinand Foch
I have had a number of passions in my lifetime, and to each, I feverishly gave my time and my love. I love scrapbooking and have since my grandmother Annie got me started. Scrapbooks create records of history for generations to come. But, somehow, my working and other activities got in the way and I put it aside. I later learned that I could still work and get passionate about something–that was going back to school for a master’s degree. Let me tell you that I was on Cloud 9 the day I learned of my acceptance. Being a part-time student, it took me four years, but I finally graduated at the age of 70. Scrapbooking is calling me once again!
I also love gardening. A wonderful friend of mine, Gladys, taught me a lot about gardening, and I became passionate enough about that to take a number of undergraduate college courses in horticulture and to put to work in my own yard what I had learned. I even went so far as to get special permission to take those courses because I lacked the necessary academic qualifications–a study of botany was missing from my academic background. Seeing the results of your labor in gardening is encouraging, satisfying, and so meaningful. For me, it’s a different type of passion now but is still something I enjoy.
“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.”
― Roy T. Bennett,
But so is writing this post and attempting to influence those of you who feel like something is still missing, even when you think you have done it all. Believe me, there is still a lot more out there to do. You have to find yours. You may have to invent it, risk it, and share it with others. I have noted through life that many ideas I had and did not act on were eventually discovered by others. There are many things we like to do that we are not necessarily passionate about, so how do we determine what we are passionate about.
- List those things you really like to do and that you believe you are good at.
- Which of those things do you like to talk to others about and learn more about from others?
- Is anything going on in life–politics, the homeless, the rudeness and disregard by people we run into in traffic, drug and sex trafficking–that really affects you to the point that you want to do something about it? Find some avenue of bringing solutions to the forefront. Examples: Form grassroots organizations to enlist help, write articles for magazines, run for public office, participate in campaigns to help candidates you believe in, be creative and find your own way to deliver your message, etc. Think about it. “What can I do to get involved in the prevention of or cure for this terrible situation?”
It’s hard to find a definition of meaning in the sense that I write about, but I assure you that all you have to do is Google it, and you will discover that looking for or finding the meaning in your life is a reality. One way to look at meaning at this stage of your life (55 and older) is to understand that staying busy with your family, your job, and other responsibilities just might have kept you so occupied you really believed that was all there was to life. Hopefully, you will now find time to work on some new goals–to reach for purpose, passion, and meaning.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” ― Martha Graham
Martha Graham was a dancer and choreographer who formed her own dance company, won many awards, taught others, and worked for more than 70 years. What an inspiration she has been and will continue to be for those who wish to follow in her footsteps and for those looking for a creative outlet. Do we have to be that good and that famous? No, but we have to follow through by finding our own creative activity.
If you do not have a creative outlet in your life, you would find it helpful to search for one. Look for something you can get absorbed in whether it be cooking, gardening, drawing, tinkering with small engines, genealogy, etc. It is most likely in the back of your mind and only needs to come forward–something you once thought you would like to do. One clue is your most favorite subject for talking about. Learning how and doing it exceptionally well is some indication of its importance to you.
Sharing it can be even more important. For example, if it turns out to be scrappin’ (scrapbooking), share it with someone or a group in a nursing home. I bet many of those residents are sitting there with bunches of pictures just waiting to be organized. If you can’t afford it, enlist the aid of the home to find a source of creative supplies. If you quilt, think about forming a quilting club where you can learn from and support each other. From there it can turn into a mission for helping still others–long-term hospital patients who might need a visit from someone who wants to find a home for a quilt. Are you getting an idea of how a hobby can turn into something bigger than you? In the comments section below, share your thoughts about it. Also, use the comments section to ask others what they think and where they are with coming alive.
Dr. Roger Landry writes, “If an activity is meaningful to you it will provide you with the continual engagement in life necessary to age successfully. This is another meaning of being authentic.” What does he mean by continual engagement? It is communion with nature, with people close to you and those you have not met, and with what feels like all of life. It is something bigger than you are.
Satisfying engagement is a key to feeling good about yourself. It represents reaching out rather than withdrawing. It helps you to extend yourself for the benefit of yourself and for others, and when you have a message that you believe in, that you want to share, and that shows you care, you have to find a way to get it out there.
Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps says, “The meaningful life occurs when we feel connected with something bigger than ourselves, such as our community or our religion. By applying our signature strengths to this effort, we feel engaged and find happiness that transcends our individual selves.”
Life is a continuing journey. Getting older should give you no reason to stop doing things. It only gives pause to how you accomplish something. Use your common sense. Don’t overload yourself. And most of all have fun.
I hope this article inspires you to get moving in the right direction, to feel better about yourself, and to live for yourself and others. If so, please leave me a comment below. If not, I would love a comment about improving it!