Archive for the ‘Inner purpose’ Category

A0ABF98D-33A9-4D3E-8813-B9131653DC66Life. Sometimes it really forces you to stop and observe what is going on in that moment. One of those moments happened tonight so I wrote a description:

“I am sitting here next to my Dad. Outside at night. My Mum died 6 months ago and Dad is heartbroken. He has cancer and is now looking forward to joining Mum soon. In the meantime, he sleeps in the chair next to me.”

This is not meant to be sad. It is part of life. It happens in every city in every country in every part of the world. Families say goodbye to grandparents and it is one of the ingredients that makes life worth living. That ingredient is that it doesn’t last forever.

As my mum used to say when things got tough, “This too shall pass“.

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Walking with my Dad tonight I found myself having to answer the most important question anyone ever asks.

“Why should I live?”

Dad is 80. He recently lost the love of his life – my Mum – after being with her for 62 years. Two weeks later he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a year to live. Plus he has an advancing form of Alzheimers. A triple whammy if you like.

Next Tuesday he is moving out of our family home to a one bedroom existence in an aged care facility.

So, knowing all this, on our walk tonight he shared that there really is nothing else to look forward to other than dying. But he did say that he wanted to help some old people by pushing them around in their wheelchairs.

My comment was something that has given my life purpose recently.

It is …to be of service to another.

To be helpful.

To give and to see the effect of your effort on the face of another.

It’s a pity that this only enters our brain after a trauma and we are forced to re look at our life purpose. Or to find a purpose if our life direction has vanished.

But is this just my opinion? There seems to be some research into happiness that we are all aware of and it has been happening right under our noses for many years. We are reminded of it regularly in the news and it becomes the topic of our conversations for a period of time, then we slide back to our normal day to day life.

The evidence that I mention is the suicide rate of movie and rock stars comparative to those involved in community work or altruism.

Think about it. Recently we have seen high profile suicides – Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain and Avicii to name a few famous ones. It seems to hit the young and old, the male and female. The ones we think that would have it all to live for.

We are wrong. Accumulation of fame and wealth is not all it’s cracked up to be.

A life of meaning seems to be the way. It provides us with a blanket of emotional security that ensures that we are safe in the knowledge that we matter. That we are worthwhile. That tomorrow we will be of value to another.

And that is a reason that I used on Dad. He agreed and we walked home with a new plan starting Tuesday.

Good on you Dad.

action adult asphalt blur

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Wrote in my journal today that the days seem to be passing quicker. 56 years of age and with my mother recently dying and my father fighting Alzheimers and cancer, the brevity of life seems all too real. The only choice, it seems, is to relax and watch each moment pass. This seems to bring about a sense of calmness and acceptance.
The busier life is, the more important this becomes.

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Similar to being in the ocean, the more you struggle the harder it is to stay afloat and enjoy the swim.

 

This exact question was asked as I finished a speech recently on depression and anxiety.
I had told the audience about how widespread depression is. That every day, six Australians take their own lives.
The Lucky Country question disturbed me as I didn’t really have an answer. I mean, if your life is threatened you will fight tooth and nail to survive. So, when our standard of living is so high and our safety assured, why do we feel empty?

The answer lies in a fascinating scientific study conducted in 1999 by Simons and Chabris. They found that when we focus on a given task we selectively delete other factors even when they are right in front of our face. To watch this, called the gorilla experiment, click here: https://youtu.be/vJG698U2Mvo

But here comes the crunch. When we are focused on the things that make us comfortable, it is often at the expense of the things that will provide us with the most reward.
Our mission, or purpose in life, is invisible when we are comfortable.

Our job now is not to make ourselves uncomfortable to achieve something.
It is to clarify what matters most.

woman sitting on mountain

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The Pororoca lives in my memory now. In Brazil however, twice a year, the wave rolls on. Sometimes ridden by an inquisitive surfer, sometimes with no one to watch it.

Every time it builds up, it passes São Luis – the bustling town that lies near the mouth of the river.

It rumbles through the region of Maranhao where population dwindles and buildings become huts. As it approaches narrow banks and shallow water it builds up and passes by the lives of local Brazilians regardless of their problems.

It twists as the river curves and finally nears Arari, the town I used as my base for the expedition that put my problems into perspective.

You see, nature continues as we experience the events that seem to matter so much. As each full moon waxes and wanes, the lives of every person on the banks of the river wax and wane too. As I write this, the full moon tonight is the same one that greeted me in my early morning trips up river to meet the wave of my lifetime. Tonight’s full moon however greets a different me. I’ve changed. I look different. I think different. I’ve grown.

But I’ve changed because I wanted to. I could have returned to my life and struggled but as Robert Frost said, I took, “the road less travelled”.

And like Frost, it did make all the difference.

Now I don’t try to beat the world’s longest wave. In many ways I took the Pororoca home with me. I’ve made decisions since then that have allowed me to ride more waves. I moved so that I am minutes away from nature and waves and forest. I watch the ocean, the wind, the swell and yes, the tide.

I’m happy doing that. I found that the waves I dreamt of as a teenager do exist. I went to the end of the world and found that happiness is under my feet. Do I still struggle? Yes, but that is just part of being human. 40 years of wanting to do something better than before led me back to the place where I don’t feel bad about standing still.

I went from a human doing to a human being. Feels better.

But the importance of your role must be obvious to you. Not others. YOU.

Notice I said “Critical”. Making life merely valuable will only ensure you exist from one day to the next. That is no way to go through life. 

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Not being mean or anything. Just saying that this is a law. It’s not meant to be nice. Just true. (more…)

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Eckhart Tolle talks about life purpose as being divided into 2 levels.
The outer level, one of accumulation, is what concerns us most. It’s what we see when we look at others.
“More stuff will make me happy.”
“Better stuff will make me really happy.”

Or so we think. (more…)