What is the Connection Between Living Your Purpose and Experiencing Genuine Happiness? [Part 2]
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Life Strategies and Stress Management Coach
Once you start to live a purpose-driven life, amazing things begin to happen. You experience more happiness and satisfaction. The change in how you feel is profound and fundamental as opposed to superficial happiness.
I can speak to this phenomenon because it has happened to me personally.
Some of you know that when I left my job as the President of the Virginia Education Association in 2012 (almost exactly seven years ago, as a matter of fact), I was one big heap of exhaustion. On the outside, I think I probably looked like I was okay. On the inside, I felt like a piece of burnt toast.
My fatigue went beyond the physical tired one feels after completing a long, hard job. My fatigue was also mental and emotional. I was worn out from the inside out.
The only thing I knew for sure was that going back to teach middle school English was not something I was up to on any level for the next six years. I wouldn't have done a good job because I was too tired even to try.
But that left me with the question of what to do next?
And seriously, I didn't have a clue.
I needed to rest because I needed to get back to feeling like myself again. I had lost touch with my inner self while being on stage and in the spotlight.
When I was finally ready to think about going back to work, I didn't know I wanted to do with my life. By then, I had turned 60, and ageism is alive and well. I also felt restricted because of a lack of serious experience in any field other than education while also having an overabundance of educational and professional credentials.
What to do?
All I knew for sure was that I wanted to stay connected with teachers. And somehow, I wanted to combine my experience and education with my spiritual study so that I could somehow help those who were similarly exhausted and ready to make a change.
But if I was going to lead them to a change, I needed to make my own change first.
I hired a coach.
And with her help, my vision for the future began to take shape.
I won't kid you. It didn't' happen overnight. And in the beginning, I resisted the very thing that kept coming up as a solution for my next professional endeavor.
And here is why I know without a doubt that there is a definite connection between living your purpose and experiencing genuine happiness.
Once I stopped resisting the idea of becoming a coach so I could position myself to be of service to my teacher friends who needed me, things began to happen where before I had just felt stalled and stuck.
I don't have space here to go into all the details, but you can trust me when I say, once I decided to follow my intuition (with the encouragement of my coach), a path appeared out of the blue. People showed up. Opportunities appeared. Things began to fall into place. And suddenly, I just knew what I was doing was the right thing for me.
Some might call the series of events that occurred "coincidences," but I call them "serendipities." Serendipities are coincidences that also have elements of surprise and create a sense of awe. I felt that sense of awe as things began to naturally fall into place for me as if by magic.
I never looked back, and I have never regretted deciding to become a certified life strategies and stress management coach.
A year later, I had an opportunity to take training from my career coach and to work with her as an Independent Coach Consultant where I worked for 14 months and learned about resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, interview skills, branding, and all the other components of a successful job search.
None of that could have happened if I hadn't been open to and willing to live my purpose.
Now, here is the connection between living your purpose and experiencing genuine happiness.
When you know in your heart that you are living your purpose, you cannot help but experience happiness at your deepest core.
I am not suggesting that it is easy. identifying your calling can feel like a pretty daunting task. I know I struggled with it. And that is especially true if you put yourself under pressure to come up with the perfect answer immediately.
The truth is it may take some time before you find your true calling. It’s a process that sometimes develops slowly. It isn't something you can force. You need to take it one step at a time until it becomes clear to you.
When I think about this process, I remember a story about a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon.
A man happened to be nearby one day and observed a butterfly's struggle to break free of its cocoon. The man became concerned about the butterfly's safety. It occurred to him that perhaps the butterfly needed his help. So the man reached for the cocoon and "helped" by opening the cocoon wider, giving the butterfly more room. He thought he was "helping" by speeding up the process.
What the man did not know about the development of a butterfly, however, is that it needs the struggle. It needs to work itself out of the cocoon at its own pace. Rushing the process eliminates the opportunity the butterfly needs to build strength in its wings. The man's good intentions didn't help the butterfly's development. In fact, he hindered it.
We sometimes want to rush through a process meant to help us grow and become better. I am suggesting, however, that speeding up the process means you risk ruining the outcome. Determining your calling is a process. And like most processes, including the learning and healing processes, it takes the time it takes. You rush through either at your peril.
So how do you determine what your true calling is?
1) Start by thinking deeply about what is most important to you.
What makes you happy at any given moment? It doesn’t have to be some all-consuming passion. But consider a cause you feel drawn to.
What excites you about it? What can you do to support it? Can you volunteer? How can you learn as much as possible about it? Is it something you can share with others? Can you support related organizations financially? The most important thing is to start.
Just do something.
2) Listen to that little voice in the back of your head.
That small voice in the back of your head is your intuition--your inner wisdom. Perhaps for you, instead of a voice, it's a feeling in your gut or a tug at your heart. Regardless, it's there. You should pay attention to it.
It is already telling you--or trying to anyway--what you should be doing. Listen to your intuition. I know it can be challenging in today's busy world. But the effort is worth it. Perhaps meditating will help. For some, journaling helps to clarify what is trying to come through.
3) Contemplate your core values.
Educate yourself about the causes that you care about. Spend time in meditation or prayer so you can hear that little voice in your head. Then start taking action.
4) Take one step at a time.
The main thing is not to let this process overwhelm you. In the first blush of excitement, you may be tempted to tackle a massive project. Don't bite off more than you can chew.
Just slow down a bit! You don't need to change the world in a single day. While that’s a laudable ambition, it’s also something that can burn you out quickly if you aren't careful. Just take it slowly and pick up momentum as you go.
5) Pick your path.
Get in the habit of doing something regularly that is related to your purpose. The activity you undertake should help you reach your ultimate goal. Pick something easy to do at first. Fit into your busy life.
No matter how small, every action helps to make a difference. Notice that you will start to experience more happiness as a result of your efforts.
Until next time.
I am offering a live webinar workshop on leadership in a few days, August 9th, to be exact, and I am inviting you to attend if you have an interest in expanding your leadership abilities.
I offered this particular presentation a couple of months ago at a Toastmasters conference, and it was well-received. (I am told I got rave reviews, in fact.)
The title of the presentation is "The Four Agreements of Authentic Leadership," based on the four agreements that are outlined in a book of the same title by Don Miguel Ruiz.
Whether you are familiar with the Four Agreements or not (and I highly recommend the book to you if you aren't) I believe you will find this presentation useful to you whether you are already a leader or just aspire to become one.
I hope you will join me on Friday, August 9th at 11:00 AM EST.