In continuation of my last post, allow me to share with you my thoughts on the single most crucial trait, happy and successful people possess. It’s the lowest common denominator. If you examine the lives of the greatest inventors or the wealthiest people, the most charismatic leaders, or the finest artists, they all had or have it. As I write this article, not one but two such traits come to mind. I’ll cover the more important one today.

Passion and Purpose

Every single happy person, and every successful person, without fail, has a sense of individual purpose, almost a sort of passion. Look around, and you’ll know what I mean. Often, it’s not even a grand plan or a gigantic goal; it is merely something they love doing. Whether that’s feeding the poor or following the stars, ice hockey or scuba diving, coding software or writing books, dancing or doodling, soccer or stitching, it doesn’t matter. They are passionate about something.

Their passion and purpose in life keeps them busy, keeps them engaged. This passion, and their aspirations make them feel wanted; make them feel worthwhile, meaningful and fulfilled. And when you feel complete within, the external environment matters much less. Your inner peace and joy flow unimpeded, not because you think you’ll accomplish your goal, but because you have something to look forward to.

It leads me to an essential point about human nature:

Everyone wants to look forward to something. In happy relationships, two partners look forward to meeting each other, and a happy employee looks forward to a promotion, an author looks forward to getting published, an athlete looks forward to competing, and so forth. When one has nothing to look forward to, life feels dull, worthless and boring.

That’s why people who have been betrayed in a relationship, for example, often start searching for another person soon after they have partially recovered, because they want to look forward to someone again. That’s why many people, especially the ones with no pastime or purpose, feel restless and nugatory after retirement, because they don’t have a routine to look forward to. When you find your passion and purpose, this empty feeling stops haunting you. It’s almost like gaining boundless personal freedom.

Often when I ask depressed or sad people if they have a passion and purpose in life, they tell me they have none. No matter what suggestions I come up with, they keep shaking their heads. I can’t help such people because they haven’t given any meaning to their own existence. No one is born with a definitive purpose or a passion. Those who are committed to living happily, make a conscious attempt to discover it, cultivate it, and protect it.

Many join cooking classes, while some learn salsa; many get into meditation while some go rock climbing.

Once you undertake an activity, you may discover that it’s not what you wanted, and that’s fine; you won’t know until you do it. Once you discover your purpose and you stick at it long enough – eventually, the most miraculous thing happens – it stops being an activity and becomes a state of mind; instead, a blissful emotional and mental state.

To the average viewer and non-player, for instance, two people playing chess appear stressed and deep in thought. They are not smiling; they are not laughing, why, they are not even moving. But, the truth is, they are immensely enjoying this war of the minds; they are almost in an orgasmic state of ecstasy. They wouldn’t trade it in for anything else in the world. An artist, a basketball player, a yogi, a musician – they all feel differently, in the same manner.

You may seek out suggestions from others, but ultimately, you will have to make some effort to discover your niche – your passion, your purpose. If you are serious about finding out what you stand for, you have to work at it. Others can’t give it to you; they can’t do it for you. They can only tell you – often, incorrectly.

The whole village was against Mulla Nasrudin’s unconventional ways. Finally, he was brought before a bench of five wise people who were regarded as the moral authority heads. They insisted that the scriptures had the final word, and that Mulla should not preach his own interpretations, but follow the teachings of the sages before him.

“Your Excellency, I’ll gladly accept their judgment if the five wise ones can answer a simple question for me.”

The king nodded.

“What is bread?” Mulla asked. “If each of the five can answer, I’ll be most obliged.”

“It’s a type of food,” said one.

“It’s a mixture of flour, water and yeast,” said the other.

“Bread is a blessing from God.”

“It is the fundamental necessity of human life.”

“It can mean many things,” said the fifth one. “There’s no one clear definition.”

“Your Majesty,” said Mulla. “If the five wisest savants can’t agree on something as simple as bread, how are they to tell me the meaning of the scriptures?”

You can’t hope to have your life’s answers from others. If you discuss it with six people, they’ll tell you seven things.

I’m not saying they don’t mean to help you or that they will misguide you. You can take their suggestions on board, but, ultimately, an individual passion and purpose is what you need to discover on your own. It’s a private matter, an intimate affair. It’s your business alone. 

If I ask you what you stand for, what will you say? What do you really stand for?

What is that one thing you live for, something which, without, even life isn’t worth it? And, what you stand for can’t be another person because if your passion and purpose is just another person, when he or she changes or withdraws, your entire life will come crumbling down like a house of cards. Your purpose should be bigger than a person. Ideally, it should even be bigger than you. You’ll feel free, worthwhile and meaningful then.

You’ll feel full of life.

You may also want to read – What is the meaning of Life?

So, what do you stand for? Go on, discover it.

Peace.
Swami

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