Your “why” gives you a true north. Many of us are looking for happiness, balance, joy etc. “Why” is about defining the characteristics of the life we want for ourselves.
When we don’t feel like we have purpose, many of us can fall into a mild depression. Without a real reason to get up every day, we start to lose motivation. I’m not talking about having to get up to go to work, I mean feeling like you have a “why” on an intrinsic level.
Often it means being of service to others or to be helpful in some way, it can be as simple as providing for your family. If we don’t have any of that purpose in our own lives, we are missing the mark.
We might not know or be aware of the “why” that sits underneath our behaviour if we haven’t spent some time navel gazing to figure that out. It requires taking a closer look at what motivates us and gives us incentive to be our shiny bright selves. Really getting to the heart of what makes us light up. It can be working front line in emergency services, spending hours making art and creating a vision, hosting a workshop, tending to your garden and sharing gorgeous bouquets with friends (thanks Mar :))
Whatever fills your cup and gives you a sense of contentment. We get so caught up in what we think life is “supposed” to be or comparing ourselves to others to see what looks good, we don’t check in and see what’s actually good for us.
I get energized and really enjoy workshops and keynote speaking, but at the core of the “why”, for me it’s about connecting and sharing with people. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction knowing I can provide information, share, teach and create self reliance–even if they don’t agree with what I’m saying. I know other speakers who speak for the sake of speaking – for them, it’s about the act of doing it.
So how do you find you why? Ask yourself some questions. Look at your past experiences. What actually makes you smile? What felt good? What were you proud of? Use your past as a way of referencing a common theme or characteristics. Remember a couple of peak experiences – when was life particularly rewarding, sweet, poignant?
In the bigger picture, I think “why” or purpose has a lot to do with self acceptance.
Purpose is about looking inside vs. looking outside. The more self acceptance and self love we have, the more confidence and joy we feel about who we are and how we stand in the world–which means we’re more willing to do things our own way rather than what we think it’s supposed to look like.
How aligned we are with our purpose is proportional to how connected and aligned we are with our values. It’s not just the clarity of knowing your purpose, it’s the clarity of living it. If you get the clarity of knowing it but can’t or don’t move towards living it, it will cause more pain. Once you know what your “meant” to be doing, you can’t unknow it.
It can be really scary and exhausting to live consciously sometimes. Constantly checking in with yourself, taking the time to reflect, sit in the unknown, be comfortable with the discomfort. It takes energy to maintain awareness, know if something is working for you or not and then knowing what to do so you are paddling with the current instead of upstream.
One way to go about getting a handle on what makes you tick is by paying attention to what pisses you off. What makes you angry or frustrated? Is there something you would change if it was up to you? Maybe there is something outside of yourself that gets you going…if you channeled that energy into action, would you feel better?
Another technique is meditation or intentional reflection. Literally learning to sit down and shut up. If you’re like me, some days the mind chatter can be deafening. Sit and be quiet and notice what comes up. It’s amazing what can happen when you take 5-10 minutes with your own thoughts. You get grounded. You start noticing things in your life more.
If you’re sitting on the fence about something, sit quietly with it and the answer will come (or at the very least a next step will appear). I challenge you to practice this every day for a month. I guarantee you’ll have a radically different viewpoint on yourself and the world around you and where you think you want to go (I won’t say or your money back – because this is free advice, but it’s invaluable!).
If your values aren’t aligning, ask yourself why. Are they old values that aren’t serving you anymore? Is there something you’re unconsciously holding on to, or is it your context? Sounds like a good place to start the one month of meditation!