Sitting in class with Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith a few years ago, I remember him telling the story about woman who mis-heard him during an evening talk when he said, “the secret to life is in discovering your inner purpose.” As it turns out, the woman thought the Rev had said, “the secret to life is in discovering your inner porpoise.”
Confused by what she thought she heard, the woman went home and researched all about the secret lives of porpoises, their eating and mating habits, etc, and specially how they use a highly advance sonar system to navigate the deep ocean. A week later, she approached Rev. Michael thanking him profusely for the suggestion, telling him she had indeed found her life’s direction… “I’m here to swim joyfully and bring my love and kindness to everyone I meet in the ocean of life.”
What I love about this story is that it re-affirms something I’ve always believed: that the majority of us find or discover our lives purpose almost by accident or as a consequence of going on some kind of journey where we are asked to bring forth the best in us. This is what The Path of the Heart is ultimately all about. The word purpose, from the Latin propositus means ‘to put or set forth’. Therefore, your life purpose is nothing more than what you came here to give or contribute to the greater world in which we live.
Today, I’d like to share with you what I believe are three stages most of us will move through along the journey of discovering and ultimately living our life purpose. I believe they hold the secret to living a purposeful life, and manifesting the life you know in your heart you came here to live for the more aligned you are with your life’s purpose, the more likely you are to attract or draw towards you the people, events, resources, and circumstances that will support you along your journey.
Three Stages of Living your Life Purpose
Stage 1: Purpose is something you HAVE
During this stage you believe your life purpose is something outside of you that you must get or find. You want God or the Universe to reveal it to you, to give it to you, often thinking that unless you find it, life has no meaning or as if something is missing. The problem with this stage is that your purpose seems to be outside of yourself, so like the main character in The Alchemist, you set out on a journey to find it. You won’t be satisfied until you get it. At this stage your purpose is something you must have, and find at all costs.
Stage 2: Purpose is something you DO
During this stage your purpose becomes something you do, or actively engage in on a day-to-day basis. “I’m doing exactly what I came here to do!” you proudly tell yourself and others. This might be a specific job, business, practice or profession. Even when things get tough or you face big challenges, a magical force is able to carry you through. The problem with this stage is that because your purpose has become something you do, when you stop doing it, you feel empty, sad or depressed because you think that you’ve lost your purpose. This may send you back to stage one and into repetitive cycles of endless quests for your life’s purpose and to a life of doing, doing, doing. Can you relate?
Stage 3: Purpose is something you ARE
At this stage, you realize that your purpose is not a something to be found, nor something you do, but rather about who you are being moment to moment, and what you’re ‘bringing forth’ from within you regardless of your external circumstances. From this stage, the world looks more loving, nurturing and friendly. Something from within you appears to drive and guide you. You experience a greater sense of connection and flow with all of life. You discover your purpose is your unique proposition of who you came here to be, and what you decide to put out or bring forth from that state of being.
To illustrate these stages, let me give you an example of how a woman who wishes to become a mother moves through them.
During stage one, the woman believes that the only way she’ll become a mother is by having a child. So she finds a man that can give her a child and after the child is born she becomes a mother because she has a child. Then, she moves to stage two and starts doing the things that a mother does. As she changes pampers and feeds her child, she finds a renewed sense of meaning or purpose that comes from what she does for her child. As the child grows older and eventually leaves the home, the woman moves to stage three by realizing that being a mother is really a state of being nurturing, caring and forgiving towards someone she loves. Having a child, and doing things for them, allowed her to bring these qualities forth, qualities she had within herself all along which she now can continue to share with others along her journey allowing her to BE a mother, not only to her child, but to herself, and everyone she meets.
The Secret to Living your Life Purpose
The paradox in these three stages is that you don’t necessarily need to start at stage one for purpose can we found at any one stage. So, WHAT IF you reverse engineered this process turning it on its head, and began at stage three? What if you approached the process of discovering and living your life purpose by first deciding who you want to be in this life?
Imagine that your life is a movie you’re writing moment to moment with every thought and feeling you have, every word you speak, and every action you take. And imagine that this process begins the moment you decide what character you’d like to play, or simply, who you want to be in this movie of your life?
It changes things doesn’t it? Because when you decide first WHO you want to BE, and allow the doing, and the having to come from this place, you’re now creating or manifesting a life from the inside out, or from your heart. And that, our scientist are now telling us, is the nature of this Universe which equally emerged from some intangible “thing” the size of a tennis ball.
So, if you want to be a successful actor, then decide to be a successful actor and then start doing what successful actors do so that you can have what successful actors have. If you want to be a world class coach, start being a world class coach by thinking and feeling like a world class coach, and doing the things what world class coaches do. First build the inner awareness of whatever it is you want to manifest, then everything else will come. As one of my mentors often likes to say, “you got to be it to live it.”
The purpose of life is to live it fully and with a purpose. That’s it.
Here’s what George Bernard Shaw had to say about his life purpose…
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have a hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it over to future generations.”
Good old George was very clear he came here to be torch that burned so brightly even future generations would catch a glimpse of its light. That’s why be became the writer he was, and continues to inspire us beyond his grave.
What about you? How do you want to be used before you die? To what purpose will you dedicate your life? Who do you want to be in the movie you’re currently writing? What’s growing in your womb that you just can’t wait to bring out into the world?
Answer these questions from the depth of your heart, and you might just become a porpoise, on purpose with a Purpose! 🙂
Artwork “The Wait and the Reward” by Anna Rose Bain