“A Quest for Purpose”
A very common theme which surfaces in many forums that I interact on is “Purpose” or more often the perceived lack of it. This refrain comes invariably from people who have obviously transcended the bottom two layers of Maslow’s hierarchy. They talk about emptiness and a feeling of hollowness in spite of acquiring every material thing that they aspired for at one time in life. A kind of a quasi logged-out state, as best described by an IT professional.
Forays into vices and distractions, bouts of indiscriminate spending, visits to counselors and gurus, nothing seems to help. In many cases, trying to shift the blame of this “difficult to quite understand” state of mind to others lands us up in further complexities, conflict and even familial distress at times.
A quest is a definite indicator of a lack. And thus that elusive higher purpose continues to elude us.
The answers which we search externally probably lie within all of us akin to the musk in the deer’s body. I have personally gone through this turmoil in life. Till one day, realization finally struck me that instead of searching for that higher purpose, I needed to just live a “purposeful life”. Sounds like a play of words but not really. There is a very subtle difference.
Well, don’t all of us live purposeful lives everyday at home or at work? Perhaps not quite at times. A purposeful life simply entails being conscious of what surrounds us and an awareness of the people who touch us. It means being sensitive, doing for others and “giving” without expectation.
Ah! the wonderful four letter word “Give”. Discussing the issue of core happiness with a very wise man not long before his eternal departure, I queried him about how to attain it? His simple one word answer was “Give”. When asked to elaborate, he mentioned that don’t we derive happiness whenever we give? It could be giving time, respect, support, attention, recognition, care, love, gifts and even forgiveness.
Surprisingly, the Hindi word “Devta” i.e “the Gods” is in a way derived from the Sanskrit word “Dyota”, meaning the one who gives.
But in today’s distrustful world, how do we give or lets say do for others? Just contributing to some charities around to get over our guilt trips is definitely not adequate.
If I have to give something to someone, it should undoubtedly fulfill a need at that moment of time. And it is very seldom money or anything materialistic. He may just have a need to be understood, affirmed, hugged, embraced or loved at that moment. Or for that matter, he may just want his human existence to be acknowledged and not looked upon as an object or resource.
Looking at each person who comes into our lives as a fellow traveler with his own individual Hopes, Fears, Needs, Expectations and Passions (HFNEP) is an elementary way to consciously develop empathy which is the first step towards knowing the real “him or her”. This automatically forces us to shed our ‘over the years developed’ firewalls of distrust and ‘gradually crept in’ indifference thus evoking a feeling to relate and care.
This change in our lenses is the defining moment towards living purposefully. Everyone does not get to become a head of state or reach some equivalent station in life where we feel that life has a real purpose.
Living purposefully can actually be defined by the most mundane and often unexciting things in life. Looking after an old parent, spending time with spouse & children, being supportive to your employer and your government, helping friends & colleagues out during troubled times, contributing gainfully to the community we reside in, fighting for the oppressed, caring for the needy, being kind to animals, plants and even inanimate things. It all adds up. Further, it is not about what you finally get to do but about the sensitivity, feeling and intent you attach to every task that is undertaken.
All that is required from us is to step out of comfort zones and being alive to people and events around us. We may not be able to change the world but at least we should attempt to make a small difference in the best way we can. Every drop matters. At times, something which appears to be trivial to us could be life-changing for someone else through a disproportionate impact.
As we get to lovingly connect with people around us at a deeper level, life suddenly appears joyful and meaningful.
Our lost self rediscovered, the quest for purpose becomes irrelevant.
Written on purpose,
Postscript: Log in back to life and rest assured, purpose will find you.
First published at seekmediation.com on 04/03/22
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