There is, without a doubt, a purpose for your life. There is a reason why you are here. There are things you were meant to do and be in this lifetime.

You are connected to everyone and everything that has stood for that purpose that has ever been or ever will be. It is an awesome responsibility. Discovering and fulfilling your purpose is the most important task you have in this life. This task is involved with every person and circumstance you encounter.

Your purpose has always been, is and always will be your purpose. We do not choose our purpose, our purpose is already part of who we are. Your task is to discover your purpose and then choose to “be” your purpose (or not). Being your purpose means choosing to embrace your purpose, to create your life so that every thought action and word is in alignment with our purpose.

How do we discover our purpose? It may whisper to us with a quiet still voice in the night. It may speak to us one day from a burning bush. It may appear to us in a moment of desperation.

We’re born into a world filled with delusion. Every day we’re bombarded by a deluge of purposes to choose from. Purpose is promoted on every TV channel, it’s in the message from well-meaning friends and family members. But why would we leave such an important aspect as discovering our purpose in life up to others?

On the surface it sounds absurd but ironically most of us look outside of ourselves to find our purpose. Many of us find ourselves stuck in lives that we feel we haven’t chosen, doing things that we don’t understand or derive joy from. Most of us have allowed our parents, our religion and our culture to define our purpose for us regardless of who we really are. Sometimes something wakes us up. One day things just don’t feel right. Some of us have an epiphany, a spiritual awakening. Some of us will come face-to-face with our conscience while others will continue to execute the tasks we have been given like machines while our souls silently suffer.

Some of us are sleepwalking through life. What will it take for us to finally get that our life should not happen by default? A life that happens by default is, at best, a life some well-meaning parents set out for us and, at worst, a never-ending nightmare existence on a treadmill requiring great effort but that goes nowhere. Why do we continually look for our purpose outside of ourselves? We believe that by doing that we can have the happiness we want. We fail to realize that happiness is a state of being, not doing or having. We refuse to believe that we can be happy at any moment just by realizing that regardless of what is happening around us we’re indeed fulfilling our purpose.

We will find our purpose by looking inward, by getting in touch with that which fulfills us and feels right. Our allies in this process are those who encourage us to look within, to look at our lives both past and present in terms of who we were and are being at any moment.

When your life feels oppressive or stagnant an adjustment needs to be made. Life is not intended to be difficult. And when there’s work to be done, when that work is in alignment with your true purpose it can be done with joy. Imagine you’re travelling along an unfamiliar road. At some point the road becomes difficult. You feel that you have made a wrong turn somewhere. You continue to travel into the darkness. Every mile is oppressive. None of the signposts make any sense. Something is telling you you’ve lost your way but you travel on. Finally you meet a stranger in the darkness along the road. The stranger tells you that you have gone ten miles in the wrong direction. You remember the point where you went astray. You turn around and begin the journey back. Immediately your journey becomes a joy again because you’re no longer lost, you know where you are and where you’re going.

Or perhaps you have been travelling down that dark road for a long time now and you meet a stranger who tells you to look within and to trust what you find there, that your purpose and direction have always been there waiting for you to trust, waiting for you to fully embrace what you have always known and who you have always been. Maybe you have just been following the crowd, doing what everyone else is doing because it seems safe. Maybe you’re just doing what’s expected of you by your friends or family. Maybe you have a huge investment in a career that’s no longer fulfilling. Do you have the courage to give it all up to claim/reclaim the joy in your life that is your birthright? Maybe you have gone so far down this road that you have finally hit a dead end and there’s nowhere else to go.

There came a day in my life that I found myself, lost, on that dark road, questioning every decision I had made that had brought me there, feeling like my real purpose had eluded me all my life, believing that other choices would have saved me from being the failure that I felt I was. I felt misunderstood and unlovable. I felt like lashing out at those around me and blaming them for my predicament. Then, on the streets of Manhattan a small miracle happened. I found myself with two acquaintances who had become lost in a city of over eight million people. Vehemently they rejected my attempts to direct them in the appropriate direction. Finally with anger and resentment, I left them to their foolishness. But I had hardly gone ten steps before I felt sadness and remorse in my heart for having left them to an uncertain fate. I whirled around and ran to intercept them once more. Enlisting the aid of a native New Yorker on the street I was finally able to convince them to trust in my sense of direction. To their astonishment in a few minutes we arrived safely back at our destination. But my life had been forever changed by this incident.

I reviewed with horror a lifetime of incidents where I had given up on people consigning them to the garbage bin of life. It was in that moment that I discovered that it was not they who had suffered the greatest transgression but me. That in every instance where I had abandoned others, I had abandoned me, I had failed to be who I truly was. It was in that moment that my purpose became clear. It became clear to me that when I violate others I violate myself. I had to face the truth of who I am, that at the core of me, I love people and want them to find their way successfully on their journey through their lives.

I looked back at my life and discovered that the real source of all my suffering throughout my life had come not from what had transpired but who I was being in the face of it. Indeed, my suffering had come from my not truly accepting who I was and embracing the purpose of my life. It had come from those moments when I doubted myself and was gripped by fear and trepidation. But the fact was, regardless of what I had believed, as I looked back, despite all the fear, my purpose was becoming clear. Why had I chosen to be a champion of civil rights in dangerous times? Why had I chosen to sacrifice my way of life to stop a war machine and save thousands of lives? Why had I chosen to become a stepfather in the face of insurmountable hardship for a small boy whose father was just not ready for the task? These kind of questions had haunted me all of my life. Now I finally had the answer. I had done it all because I love people and I want them to find their way successfully on their journey through their lives.

Now that my purpose is clear I need no longer suffer in fear and doubt. Every moment is an opportunity to be who I am, every situation a new challenge, I have given up suffering, my life is an adventure. No matter what challenges may come I can meet them with grace and ease.

Look back at your own life and accept that despite all the suffering, you too have fulfilled your purpose in this life to this moment. And as you look back at your life a clear pattern of your purpose will begin to emerge as well those moments when you sold out on who you are and suffered the consequences.

It’s time to live your life anew, to rid yourself of the fear and doubt about who you are and to live your life mindful of your purpose. I can’t promise that there won’t be challenges and hardships. As a matter of fact I can assure you that there will be. But I will also assure you that as you strive to be truly who you are in the face of those hardships, you will meet them with grace and ease.

by Michael Jenkins
image: purpose sign via Shutterstock