We all have a gift to give
We usually catch a glimpse of our purpose early in life – say, at the age of four or five. It probably involved a favourite activity of ours that filled those around us and ourselves with joy. A wise man once told me that children also receive a strong revelation of their true mission in life around age twelve. At this early age, Jesus went missing and was found preaching to the elders at the temple, revealing his gift as a teacher of teachers.
A parent’s job is to be aware of these gifts and provide their children with the tools to develop their talents. We are not born prodigious; every skill needs to be honed. However, some parents themselves become the most significant obstacle by paying more attention to what society expects of the child than to his natural talents. Can you imagine what would have happened if Mozart’s father had neglected his son’s musical abilities?
When I was young, I loved drawing dresses for my girlfriends. As an adult, I studied for a career I did not enjoy until I listened to my heart and left my hometown in Puerto Rico to go to New York to study design. Fashion merchandising became my career of choice for a season of my life. It felt as if my mission was to inspire others through beauty. It was not by chance that I met my dear teacher Dada Vaswani, through friends from the business – since our careers are only an excuse for relationships and learning.
Later on, after pursuing my career in fashion, I began to organize conferences for motivators and teachers on spirituality. That particular interest started as a young girl when I discovered the spiritual texts, my grandmother zealously kept. Today I still have the same urge to learn more about why things work the way they do, together with my desire to share what I learn with others. My purpose continues to be the same, whether as a fashion designer, a writer, a motivational speaker, or an event organizer. My purpose is to share beauty, find meaning, and inspire personal and social change. What is yours?
We all have experiences in our lives that can become the treasure map that leads us towards our true purpose. These revealing experiences may occur at any time, as a child or in adulthood. They inspire us to grow, find answers to our questions, and heal by helping others through the lessons we learned.
One of the experiences that marked my life happened in my adolescence while trying to escape from a dysfunctional home. The fear, desperation, and frustration I went through also led me to discover my purpose. The fact that I was able to find my purpose and peace using the tools I share in this book, despite being born in the middle of unfavourable circumstances, is my greatest satisfaction. Helping others find their path is my primary motivation.
The seasons and your purpose
The soul’s journey towards its purpose is not always a straight line – it can be filled with pauses, detours, restarts, and delays along the way. Nothing stays the same, even if we can’t perceive the difference. When a season passes, it always leaves the gift of change before we move on to the next. Each new season brings the dawn of a new perspective. The purpose of the journey lies in the discovery of new horizons, not in the arrival at a safe harbour.
If we understood the wisdom of nature, we would also trust that the same intelligence that gave the scent to the flower will also give us the tools for our purpose. The purpose of the gardenia is to bring joy through its beauty and perfume. The flower that lacks a bright colour might be compensated with an intoxicating fragrance. We can’t force our purpose; it is the natural expression of our being. We cannot become someone we are not, but we can become the person we are meant to be. Everything exists in perfect harmony.
Our gift is the same, but its expression may change.
Our lives have many seasons, and we may have different professions, yet the essence of our purpose will remain the same. A good friend of mine wrote the music and was a well-known TV producer until the age of forty. After forty, he studied psychology, finished his doctorate, and became a renowned self-help author in Puerto Rico. His name is Dr Alfred D. Herger, author of Yo Voy a Mí (I Believe in Me). His eagerness to motivate and inspire others was always the same, but the expression of his purpose changed with his life experience.
I had a career in fashion until the age of thirty-six; it coincided with the end of a nine-year cycle. Once my daughter was born, I decided to spend her first years at home, dedicating all of my time to being with her – a decision I do not regret. After being a lifelong feminist and delaying motherhood in favour of my career, I discovered my love for children. I became an active advocate for mothers’ and children’s rights, yet another channel to express my talent for bringing awareness.
The key to success is to be flexible and reinvent oneself when the season calls for a pause or a change of direction. There’s no escaping the lessons of growth. Unfinished business of one season will eventually meet us again at a later time. However, lingering in a season beyond its time is not desirable. It is common these days to see people over thirty living eternal adolescence. Avoiding each cycle’s responsibilities unnecessarily stretches the time allotted to complete it, creating physical and psychological imbalances. As the saying goes: ‘There is a time and place for everything.’
Our purpose in the world
The common good is our main purpose, no matter what our gifts are. Love and compassion are the common denominators to build a fair society. Groups that use their talents solely for the personal gain, well-being, and material satisfaction of a few, whether religious or for-profit companies are destined to become a part of the past. Hidden agendas cannot prosper under the disguise of altruism, even with the help of costly marketing and advertising campaigns. No one can fool the Divine.
Intelligence for long since the universe eventually will give us the bill for our debts.
Working with integrity while providing our gifts to the planet is the difference between building and destroying, offering hope and breeding despair, bringing peace and promoting hate, giving life and destroying with death. For example, an evident lack of integrity is seen in tobacco companies that target young women in advertisements by portraying a beautiful slim woman as an ideal of independence and beauty. Is there anyone unaware of the fact that smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer?
We are as responsible for what we know, as we are for what we don’t want to know. Universal laws, just as with the laws of physics, are impartial – every cause has an effect, every effect has a cause, and each result has its consequences. The trail left by consequences can linger for a long time after the fact. It may be positive or negative and may affect a wide or narrow range of people, time, and space.
Ignorance of the law does not exempt us from its consequences.
The quality of every result will depend on the intent behind the original act or cause. Therefore, we must stop to consider all the consequences before making every choice. Everything bears its fruit. The temptation of instant gratification can blind our ability to see the future. Harmful advertising will bring forth a stream of death and destruction, with long-term negative consequences affecting future generations as well.
A Young Man With the Wrong Purpose
Some years ago, I met a very peculiar young man on a flight from Miami. He was dressed in flashy clothes and jewellery, yet he did not seem happy or at ease. During our conversation, he couldn’t explain what he did for a living and, among other suspicious things, mentioned that he admired the drug dealers in his neighbourhood because they ‘helped people out more than politicians.’
However, I noticed that his expression changed when he showed me a picture of his small boy, stating that his son was the most important person in his life. A father with the wrong purpose will only pass on a dark legacy to his offspring. As we left the plane, I invoked all the angels to guide and protect his family, and I felt that our conversation made a difference.
Anyone who is partaking in a dark business, legal or not, will know on a subconscious level that promoting merchandise or causes that are harmful to the lives of thousands of youngsters and their families, will have spiritual consequences. His soul will also know that, according to the law of cause and effect or karma, if he doesn’t change direction, at some point, he will probably have to shed tears for each death he has caused.
Life will show him, even if financially successful, that no one can get rich at the expense of the unhappiness of others. The talent of a drug dealer is the same as that of a good merchandiser. He could just as well use the same gift to market something worthwhile for humanity. However, some prefer to take the easy road.
A new wave of consciousness is awakening humanity to the fact that we can no longer tolerate selfishness and lack of integrity in businesses. It may appear that some cannot lose while growing with all the advantages and zero consequences. Nevertheless, the universe has a way of moving us in the direction of a new and better way of life.
One case in point is the banking industry. The new economics will show families how to manage money matters and contribute to the sustainable development of the planet, instead of encouraging their debt. In an ideal world, the new bank will also become a mentor to countless companies, big and small, to support the good of humanity. We all need to work together towards this vision.
The law of compensation
In some countries, we see how the cycle of loss will eventually interrupt a growing economy, which could be explained as part of the natural cycles and the law of compensation at work. This law, made popular in an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, notes that nothing is wasted; everything is used for the good of all.
For example, since the Divine plan needs you, if you are working at a job where your purpose, talents, and energy are not valued or for the good of all, the great wisdom will allow you to advance towards your ideal place. In this case, losing can be winning. Your talents and purpose are essential. Search within, and you will find the change is a blessing.
The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 took us on an unintended dive within ourselves. At the same time, the Earth took a needed pause from the contamination that results from our unhealthy choices of energy consumption. The disease affected millions, collapsing our lungs, which, according to Ayurveda, represents the centre of our being and the fourth chakra, also called Anahata, which means ‘unhurt’ in Sanskrit – associated with calmness and serenity when in balance.
Unsurprisingly this centre, which also governs the lungs, represents the heart. The Chakra of the Heart, according to Hindu tradition, balances our emotions of love and also rules anger, jealousy, fear, and hate. In the middle of the pandemic and protests that sparked around the world, decrying racism and the killing of George Lloyd in the US – the words that were adopted as a symbol of oppression were his last words, ‘I can’t breathe.’
Rampant negative emotions have separated us from our spiritual oxygen, which is the love of God. The soul of the Earth cannot breathe asphyxiated by all the physical and emotional pollution we are harbouring.
The crises of today are simply the world’s attempts to regain its balance. It is impossible to withdraw from the Earth’s bank account indefinitely without finding one day that the treasury is empty. Abusing the Earth’s resources will only contribute to a lifeless future, as wasting our energy without refuelling it, will only bring illness. The same holds for our spirit. If we fail to nurture our souls with good thoughts, prayers, meditation, nature, and service, we will eventually fall into spiritual bankruptcy.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
— Isaac Newton
If you have lost something recently, stay still and do not worry: ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ Even if we can’t see the reason for a loss, the pendulum of balance is quietly moving in a better direction. You will always be protected if you walk with God. Remember that according to this law of balance, you may find that those who have suffered will experience an unexpected joy, those who have lost a business will gain time with their grandchildren, or those who have lost a dear one may likely receive news of a birth.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
— The Beatitudes
What would happen if one of the cells in your body decided to work only for itself with complete disregard for the rest of the body? If the cell, by sheer selfishness, chose not to share its energy or its mission, it would quickly become a destructive or cancerous cell. The same happens when people act only to benefit themselves. When we steal money, we are stealing from ourselves. If we destroy the planet, we destroy our own house, and by not paying our employees a fair salary, we are depleting ourselves. If you purchase a counterfeit item or shop in an unfair market, you are only participating in the darkness and deceiving yourself.
The universe’s raw materials are exclusive to no one. Ultimately, the universe works to integrate its energy for the highest good. When you hold back from using your talent, you are also taking away the opportunity from others to enjoy your gift. You are similar to the small cell, apparently insignificant but unique in its mission. Remember, the ‘all’ cannot be the ‘The All’ without your part. Do not worry. Although life is in constant change, we never lose something without being duly compensated by God. That is the law.
It is a mistake to think that finding our purpose will always bring fame, recognition, and material success. We have the right to a reward; nevertheless, that should not be our primary goal in life. If that is our only goal, then emptiness and dissatisfaction will remain regardless of all our success.
Undoubtedly, the highest purpose we can have is to awaken to the plan God has for us – by connecting to His Will. Elevating our thoughts to make a conscious connection with His plan is the only way to find our inner purpose. Most people live backwards: they want to have, to do, to be able to be. The opposite is true. First, you must learn to be and to do, to have the corresponding results.
Your real purpose feels different. Finding your purpose will bring immense joy when we share it with others as a service. But if you miss giving your talent, you will feel emptiness and dissatisfaction. A truly fulfilling life that flows with real success is the result of offering your gift as a service to others.
Now more than ever, the world needs you. Don’t waste your talents watching the news on TV or staying glued to social media. Don’t complain about the government or a job you dislike.
Resolve to make a difference. Neutralize that sense of dissatisfaction by practising loving purposeful action.
Silence, meditation, time alone in nature, questioning, and observing yourself, together with active reflection, will give you clues on how to use your talents to help others. Most importantly, ask God daily how you may best serve Him and others.
It is not as important what you do – working as a waiter, a president, or a doctor – what matters is you do everything with love and excellence. The value of our purpose is to be grateful for each moment we give, never as a duty or for your selfish benefit or recognition. The world has been blessed with the gifts and talents of many invisible hands that have never been acknowledged; they all share the common goal of quietly serving with love. God sees you.
How to discover your purpose
Some scholars state that we reach full use of our reason at twenty-one. Unfortunately, other sages affirm that a veil may fall over our real mission at that same age. Maybe this is why adolescents are so confused, searching for their authentic selves everywhere. If we do not find our purpose in life, then our mid-forties or fifties may meet us with a profound identity crisis. Trying to find our true meaning during adulthood may turn into a virtual archaeological expedition trying to find clues, among forgotten fossils in our lives that will reveal traces of our original purpose.
A spiritual teacher once said that if you feel you must fix the world, it is probably not your real purpose, because the purpose is never manifested as a duty, but as an inexplicable need to share your talents and interests.
How to find your north
Birds know that they must migrate to avoid freezing or dying in the cold of winter. Penguins and whales swim through a long and challenging journey to a specific location every year to find their mates. We human beings hardly ever have a clear idea of which path to take in our lives. Animals have instinct, a sort of ingrained compass.
When the time comes to move, it becomes inevitable. The instinct to them is greater than any emotion. Animals in nature are simply connected to God’s plan. What are we connected to? Do we still have instincts, or are our senses completely impaired?
Our inner voice speaks clearly to us during our first years of life, but throughout the years, people around us, unknowingly silence that voice with their doubts and ideas. We have heard the story countless times: a young man or woman dreams of becoming a painter, writer, or acrobat, only to hear from others that artists die of hunger and that a better career would be one where a good job and salary are assured. Likewise, many times when you enjoy what you do, society labels your occupation as a pastime and makes you doubt yourself.
The media may also confuse the direction of your true purpose by showing erroneous images of what is expected from successful people. For many of us, finding our path seems to happen by sheer luck or pure coincidence. But when we look closely, all the erroneous or twisted roads of our journey finally took us to our rightful destiny.
A Life Of Meaning
What would a life of meaning look like to you? Many researchers have been curious to learn how the people of Okinawa in Japan maintain the highest rate of longevity and the number of centenarians in the world. Okinawa, an island that lost close to 200,000 soldiers in World War II, still is well known for its hospitality, health, community, and joy of life.
There are distinct factors that contribute to their overall health, including diet, good habits, rituals, and tropical weather. However, the main secret of Okinawans is that they’ve found the reason to wake up in the morning; in other words, they have found their ikigai.
In Japanese, the word ‘ikigai’ is made of two characters, one means ‘life’, and the other means ‘to be worthwhile. According to Dan Buettner, a National Geographic fellow and explorer who coined the term ‘blue zones’ and researched these areas (places where people live longer and with fewer cases of common diseases), Okinawans don’t have a word for retirement. Dan arrived at this conclusion: ‘People with purpose live longer, sleep better, and are healthier.’
This is an excerpt from Sharon M. Koenig’s book, Seasons of the Soul: 7 Steps to Connect with Your Life’s Highest Purpose, you can buy it here.