Last night, I heard a message on life’s purpose from Rabbi Denise Eger at Congregation Kol Ami, West Hollywood’s Reform Synagogue. What I enjoy most about her delivery is she never presents a “how to do it” sermon complete with a “5 easy steps” list of things to do for a better life. She addresses real world issues and believes the audience is smart enough to find the right path. Her method works for me… I’m not an idiot… I just need guidance… point me in the right direction and I’ll get there.
The message I received was to recognize God or a High Power or the Universe has a plan to help each of us on life’s journey… our part of the process is to hear, accept and put it to work. It might not be earth-shattering, but it will bring inner peace. In truth, that’s all I’m looking for today… a satisfied mind!
Some people measure success by the wealth they’ve accumulated, the power they’ve attained, or the status they’ve achieved. Yet, even though they’ve reached success beyond their wildest dreams, they still have an empty feeling — something is missing from their life. Purpose.
In order to fill that void and be completely fulfilled in life, their soul may be searching for something more.
Here are a few scenarios that describe this emptiness:
Lonely at the top. I was obsessed with making it to the top. When I arrived, however, I learned that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I now realize that my continual pursuit of advancement seriously compromised my ability to spend quality time with my family and build meaningful relationships with friends.
Enough is never enough. One of the ways I kept score in life was to compare my toys to my neighbors’ toys. It felt good for a while, but each “high” just didn’t last. I now know better. I realized that if I’m not careful, the game of life can become an obsession — there will always be people with more and less than I have.
Sold my soul. I would have given anything to be a success. I lied, cheated, and sold my soul to the devil. I understand now that although I’ve obtained fame and fortune, people don’t like or respect me. Knowing what I’ve done, I find it hard to live with myself, and others seem to agree.
All work and no play. I was always the first person in the office and the last one to leave. While my business life has been a roaring success, my personal life has been a disaster. I realize there’s got to be more to life. Balance matters, and I must be the one to make it happen.
Pleased everyone except myself. I never made a move without first seeking the approval of my friends and family. They’re happy, but I’m miserable. I now appreciate that my opinion matters too, and counting on others to make up my mind for me is just a cop-out. After all, it’s my life and I own it.
Lived in the future rather than the present. I spent much of my life thinking about what I was going to do tomorrow. Now that I’m older, I’ve come face-to-face with the reality that my days won’t go on forever; I wish I had learned to savor every special moment as it happened.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, it may be time for a course correction.
Living Life with a Purpose
Although everyone is different, there are common threads that bind a life with purpose.
Live by your beliefs and values. People who live a life of purpose have core beliefs and values that influence their decisions, shape their day-to-day actions, and determine their short- and long-term priorities. They place significant value on being a person of high integrity and in earning the trust and respect of others. The result is that they live with a clear conscience and spend more time listening to their inner voice than being influenced by others.
I was in a 20-year relationship with the most dishonest person I’ve ever known. Hotel rooms and dinners at fine restaurants we’re continuously “comped” over “unacceptable conditions” brought to management. It was wrong on every level, but by allowing it to continue, I compromised my values for something I wasn’t… a thief!
Feel content. People who live a life of purpose have an inner peace. They’re satisfied with what they have and who they are. To them, the grass is greener on their own side of the fence. As the saying goes, “The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.”
Make a difference. People who live a life of purpose make a meaningful difference in someone else’s life. They do things for others without expectation of personal gain, serve as exemplary role models, and gain as much satisfaction witnessing the success of others as witnessing their own. As the old proverb says, “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.”
I guess what I learned from last night’s sermon is to live in the moment. People who live a life of purpose cherish every moment and seek to live life without regret. They take joy in the experiences that life gives and don’t worry about keeping score. Dr. Seuss may have said it best, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”