What is the purpose of life?
For some it is the accumulation of as much wealth as possible.
For others it is the pursuit of love.
And for some it is how to make the biggest contribution.
In the world of coaching and self-help a lot of focus has been put on finding the way we are going to change the world into a better place.
A lot of work goes into discovering ‘the thing we were put on this earth to do.’ A kind of mission that we have been giving by those on high, a special role we are to fulfil for humanity.
Healer, visionary, change maker- there is something so powerful and seductive about the idea of being put on this planet with a mission.
But we have to watch out as there are a few traps.
~ Trap 1: Completely missing the point~
The first is shown beautifully in the following quote- ‘If you have missionary zeal you’ll be eaten by cannibals.’
For me this is less about the risks that may come with standing up for something we believe in and more about the kind of delusion we can have if we become over-focussed on our mission to the exclusion of anything else.
We can become so obsessed we miss the obvious. And in the example of this quote, the results are fatal.
~ Trap 2: Neglecting self-care ~
The second trap is that thinking we need a mission and that it has to be of service can mean that we neglect to take proper care of ourselves.
Emptying our energy reserves to be of service is a sure way to ultimately end in illness, stress and burnout.
And then we can’t help anyone. Not ourselves, not those around us and certainly not those whose ‘mission’ it is for us to serve.
~ Trap 3: Are we really obliged….? ~
The third trap is the idea that we need to make a ‘contribution’ at all.
It’s not that this can’t be absolutely the right thing to do and extremely fulfilling. It’s more that the obsession with making a contribution can blind us to what is right in front of us.
Energy that is going into the quest could otherwise be spent on something much more immediate that is going to bear fruit right now.
~ The most powerful place to make a contribution is the present moment ~
And this to my mind is the place where we can always make the biggest contribution. With what is right here in front of us right now.
It could be the people we’re with- family, friend, colleague or child- being fully present is an immense contribution to make.
It could be simply the activity we’re engaged in- email, doing the washing up, cleaning the car, folding laundry.
Giving whatever we are doing right now our full attention is the most simple and direct route to bringing ourselves into a state of purpose.
Taking care of ourselves first and then others from a place of strength is surely the best way we can make our biggest contribution to the world. And have the richest most rewarding life. d
We don’t have to go ‘over there’ to make a contribution, we can instead find a way to do things that is much more nourishing and sustainable as shown in this quote by Confucius.
“To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”