“This is the true joy in life – being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
The funny thing about discovering your true purpose is that it is rarely what you might have imagined it to be.
True purpose emerges from the inside out, and as such you cannot will it or intention it into being. It comes into focus as you serve those around you and gains definition as you wisely steward the resources at your disposal in any given moment. It cannot be attained through self-gratification or self-indulgence, in fact, it is known only as you remain faithful to a worthy purpose.
We all have our ups and downs, for there are a great many factors within us and beyond us that are not entirely under our control, but the closer you come to revealing your true purpose, the less likely it is that you will be turned from fulfilling it. My personal experience tells me that the most critical times are those where the chips are down, the world is pressing in and everything seems to be going wrong. It is in these times that your fidelity to your central purpose is put to the test.
While I wouldn’t wish such things on anyone, they are valuable to those interested in revealing their true purpose because they are typically filled with pressure. They are terribly uncomfortable, yet the pressure that builds can be used in relation to the fulfillment of your purpose if you manage not to react to it. Just as those who excel in the martial arts would use the force and momentum of an opponents attack to his advantage, so to do those who are at rest in the arms of their true purpose. When others are crying “I’ve got to get out of here” those whose life is on purpose are at peace, assured and ready to strike while the iron is hot, saying to the world around them “bring it on…I’m waiting for you.”
If you have not yet found your central purpose, give more, serve more. Let go more fully of the notion that your happiness and fulfillment can be extracted from the world around you, that they will come just as soon as your circumstances and relationships arrange themselves thus and so. Do so, and your purpose will soon come clear. Fail to do so and you cannot help but be reduced to a “feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances,” not because of the forces at work in the world beyond you, but because of a failure from within.
The choice is yours.
9 thoughts on “True Joy in Life”
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Looking outside yourself is truly the way to find your purpose. Introspection is helpful as well, and should not be avoided; however it only helps you to get to the point where you can find better ways to do for others outside yourself. The times when your dedication to your emerging purpose is tested can be difficult, you are right, but that’s when you find out what you are really made of. Are you someone who just goes with the prevailing winds, a “well-oiled weathervane”, or are you more like a green tree branch, always moving in one direction but flexible enough not to break under strain? These tests are tough, but we can’t forget the title of your pose “True Joy in Life”. It may not always be comfortable to uncover your true purpose and be faithful to it, but it is the only way where you can find that true joy in life. To change up Benjamin Franklin’s phrasing, those that would sacrifice their integrity for happiness deserve (and will have) neither. But those that stick to their integrity and their purpose through all the trials that will come from having that dedication, will find that they discover an innate, naturally occurring true joy that cannot be taken from them.
Certainly we all have to navigate those times when pressures are uncomfortable or even excruciating. Sometimes such things are related to our own doing, and other times they aren’t, but regardless of that we can take advantage of the situation by allowing strength and tempering to occur rather than deperately seeking ways to relieve the pressure. Character is tested regularly. Better to discover weaknesses and be able to address them than to continue unknowlingly until a critical point when the same weakness produces a catastrophic failure!
A great message to start the day with!
Thank you! Much to consider this morning.
Being disappointed in our lives is like complaining about your dinner every night, criticizing it’s taste, saying it’s not good enough or nourishing enough for you but leaving out the fact you’re the cook! We don’t author everything in our lives but we do build and sustain the character to be a success in living it. I want to be able to say with my last breath that I did what I came to do and now I’m fine to leave. Great post and one to print as a reminder when the pressure may seem greater than our awareness of our purpose.
I love the quote. It describes perfectly what should come with aging. The fact that we can devote our lives to fulfillig the purpose we were entrusted with is thrilling. Discovering the purpose is only the beginning not the point of our existence…then there’s the attainment! Thanks for your timely post.
That quote from GBS really puts it in perspective. Our lasting fulfillment has to come on the basis of what we are doing to make it happen. I only can see that happen, if it’s to be consistent, when tied to something deep in your concerns about your life. It’s a huge blessing when what you do on a daily basis is hitched to your deepest concerns, for then you feel you are accomplishing something of value and that in and of itself gives you a huge sense of clarity and satisfication to your life. There is meaning to what you do, and it really matters – for one thing, it’s much harder for the various distractions that exist in the world to compete with that. You become a more difficult target to be marketed to, for you know what you want because it’s much closer to what you truly need.
As you say, you fare better in stormy weather when the tides of circumstance become difficult. If one thing is for certain, we should expect stormy weather throughout our lives; it’s just the way things are with all the various uncertainties in the world today, but to keep your ahead above water, though tough at times, can be made much more doable with a strong sense of purpose in your heart. Somehow, those kinds of things are honored, just like integrity, and I’ve found that it gives you the best chance of finding true happiness and lasting joy.
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