How To Live Your Life With Purpose

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Dr Ottilia Brown

How To Live Your Life With Purpose

Posted 07 Apr 2018


Dr. Ottilia Brown

How To Live Your Life With Purpose

Everyone is talking about it… finding your purpose! People are often engaging in philosophical ‘What is the point?’ discussions. You might be involved in these discussions and be wondering about your own purpose. These thoughts and discussions may awaken feelings of discomfort or anxiety in you. On the other hand, you may have found your purpose, but you’ve veered off course because of all that comes on life’s path. Regardless, there will be signs and intuitions along the way that, if noticed, will be the necessary indicators. For me there is a restlessness or anxiety that starts settling in. When I analyse this restlessness and look at my life and all seems well, but the restlessness persists, I know that I am ‘off course’. What could this course be? What does the road to purpose look like?

There is no linear path to purpose… no map… but here are some clues on how to traverse this territory.

  • Be Open and Willing – often we go through the motions of life without thinking about purpose. There is so much to do, and so little time and we are caught in the mundanity of the essentials and/or the frivolous. We might not feel completely at ease, but we are unsure of what that feeling of dis-ease might be. Finding purpose requires a willingness to explore this feeling and to be open to self-introspection and connecting with that which is sometimes uncomfortable.
  • Live in the Moment – the only true moment is the NOW! Practice living in the now. We are often ruminating about the past or obsessing about the future… and without realising it, the now and all it has on offer has passed us by. Living in the now also facilitates a very simple but necessary pleasure… noticing the little things in life that so easily slip by when we are engrossed in our thinking and doing. Using one’s senses to stay in the moment and to connect with what each sense is experiencing at a specific point in time is a helpful way of practising staying in the now.
  • Learn How to be Still – we are constantly ‘doing’, working, fetching kids, checking our mobiles, watching something, seeing friends and so forth. Get off the treadmill of life and check your emotional and spiritual pulse. Literally check in with yourself as you would do a friend or relative. Being still could also help you to find the next couple of clues on your path to finding your purpose.
  • Plug into your Values – these are the things that are important to you, like your personal compass for who you are and how you want to live your life. If you are not sure of what your values are, some helpful questions include, ‘What kind of person do I want to be?’… ‘How do I want to behave?’. If you are finding it difficult to answer these questions, think about how you would want others to remember you if you should move away tomorrow. Once you have identified your values, especially the most prominent ones, ask yourself if you are living these values. This will help you to assess whether you are aligned to your values.
  • Identify your Strengths – these are typically the things you are good at like organising and planning but could also include character strengths like bravery and forgiveness. Human beings are very good at listing their weaknesses but tend to struggle on the strengths front. This is your opportunity to unflinchingly blow your own trumpet. If you are finding it difficult to answer this one, interview some trusted family and friends and get their opinions with accompanying evidence so that you can start forming your own picture.
  • Connect with your Passions – these are the things that fuel you, that fire you up with excitement and vigour. They can be leisure activities, work, other people, absolutely anything that awakens within you a feeling of great enthusiasm. Passions are often not high on the list of priorities as all the responsibilities of adulthood take over. Ironically passion originally approximated the meaning of suffering and sacrifice. Connecting with and engaging in our passions may include making some sacrifices so that there is space for these energy fuelling activities.
  • Live on Purpose – knowing your values, strengths and passions is just the beginning. Consciously living this knowledge and actively finding ways and activities to express your self-realisations will allow you to start aligning these various aspects of who you are and integrating them. The self-work never stops. Keeping track along the way and checking in with yourself is a much-needed part of this lifelong journey. Anxieties may arise when your alignment is out. It is important to recognise self-critical thoughts and to opt for self-compassion while re-committing to seeking this alignment again.

For help on living a life of purpose, please feel free to contact me.

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4 people have commented this blog.

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charles_333 says:

5 days 23 hours ago
Enjoyed reading this and the thread of responses. We are all searching for what we are here to do. Charles
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

5 days 18 hours ago
Dear Charles. Thank you for your message and feedback. Wishing you the best on your search! Warm regards, Ottilia

Margot says:

1 week 4 days ago
Dear Dr Brown I'm interested to know if you think people of years gone by were living a more purposeful life than those of us living today. Have we lost our way to some degree as a species? I think most people are struggling to find that 'thing' that they have actually be born into this world to deliver upon/achieve.
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

1 week 3 days ago
Dear Margot. Thank you for your message. I think the purpose discussion has become more dominant with time and has sparked more interest as there has been an increase in exposure to this topic. Furthermore, the era we live in where people have access to more and have more materialistic means but are still sometimes feeling like something is lacking, has sparked an existential questioning about purpose... 'I have so much but yet I am not content'... There is also an increased awareness of self and much exposure to media and self-help materials about living one's best life which would in turn contribute to more internal questioning. I think it is important to not think of living a life of purpose as finding one specific 'thing' but rather as something that can be created through living an authentic life that is aligned with your values, strengths and passions. It is really about living dynamically and by engaging in life and relationships in a congruent manner that purpose starts emerging. Focusing on finding purpose in a linear fashion will most definitely evoke anxiety and although existential anxiety can be a helpful catalyst for the purpose journey, too much anxiety can be counterproductive. My best wishes, Ottilia

Rebecca says:

2 weeks 13 hours ago
Yes I agree with JazzL! The few articles you have published on this platform have been so rich in guidance for me, and have been like a shining beacon of light when I've needed it most in my life. R
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

1 week 6 days ago
Dear Rebecca. Thank you so much for your positive message. I am excited to learn that we can offer you this light on your path. Wishing you much strength and hoping that we can continue to light your way. Take good care, Ottilia

JazzL says:

2 weeks 4 days ago
Dear Ottilia. Another really super article. If you continue to write in this manner, I am good g to be your number one fan. Thank you for a very inspirational, feel good article The importance of self care cannot be stressed more. So often we go off track and instead of bringing ourselves back in line we choose the easy route and stay off track. Sitting still and taking cognizant of all that is truly important to us is what makes life bearable whilst being g on the moment to. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and advice with us. Good luck, God bless you. Regards, JazzL
Dr Ottilia Brown

Dr Ottilia Brown says:

2 weeks 4 days ago
Dear JazzL. Sincere thanks for your message and your willingness to engage with what can sometimes be uncomfortable material. I so agree with you, the acts of living in the moment and learning to be still can be incredibly significant catalysts in finding our path again and reconnecting with what is needed at the time. Thank you for your blessed wishes, they are appreciated. Wishing you much the same on your journey! Take care, Ottilia

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