In continuation to my last post, allow me to share with you my thoughts on the single most important trait happy and successful people possess. It’s the lowest common denominator. If you examine the lives of the greatest inventors or the richest people, the most charismatic leaders or the finest artists, they all had or have it. In fact, as I write this article, not one but two such traits come to my mind. I’ll cover the more important one today. Passion and Purpose.
Every single happy person, every single successful person, without fail, have 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 simply 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. There’s something they are passionate about.
Their purpose of life keeps them busy, keeps them engaged. Their passion and purpose, their aspiration makes them feel wanted, it makes them feel worthwhile, meaningful, fulfilled. And when you feel complete within, the external environment matters much less. Your inner peace and joy flows unimpeded not because you think you’ll accomplish your goal, but because you have something to look forward to. This leads me to an important point about human nature:
Everyone wants to look forward to something. In happy relationships, two partners look forward to meeting each other, 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 are betrayed in a relationship, for example, often start searching for another person soon after they partially recover because they want to look forward to someone again. That’s why, many people, especially the ones with no pastime or passion and purpose, feel restless and nugatory after retirement because they don’t have a routine to look forward to. When you find your purpose, this empty feeling stops haunting. It’s almost like gaining boundless personal freedom.
How to find your passion and purpose in life?
Often when I ask depressed or sad people if they have any passion, they tell me they have none. No matter what suggestions I come up, they keep shaking their head. I can’t really help such people because they haven’t given any meaning to their 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 go for meditation while some go for rock climbing.
Once you undertake an activity, you may discover this is not what you wanted and that’s fine; you won’t really know till you do it. Once you discover your purpose, and you stay at it, 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, two people playing chess appear stressed and deep in thought, for instance. 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 for anything else in the world. An artist, a basketball player, a yogi, a musician, they all feel differently in exactly the same manner.
You may seek suggestions from others, but ultimately, you will have to make some effort to discover your niche, your passion and purpose. If you are serious about finding what you really stand for, you have to work on it. Others can’t give it to you, they can’t do it for you. They can only tell you, often wrongly in fact.
The whole village was against Mulla Nasurdin’s unconventional ways. Finally, he was brought before a bench of five wise people who were regarded as the moral authority. 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 said. “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, “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 only your business.
If I ask you, what do you stand for? What will you say? What do you really stand for? What is that one thing you are living for, something without which even your life’s not worth it?
And, what you stand for can’t really be another person because if your 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, really.
So, what do you stand for? Go on, discover it.