Your Life’s Purpose and Why Striving to Discover it Doesn’t Work

I discovered my life’s purpose yesterday while putting away clean dishes.*

(*If you’re on my email list, this will seem a suspiciously familiar sentence, because it is. I decided to share what I wrote in this week’s email here on the blog as well.)

Which sounds so casual and out of the blue, but it was only the end in what’s been a very long process. It’s taken me years trying to figure this out, years of introspection, trying new things, seeking guidance, and financially investing in myself.

With one problem:

All those years of striving would never make things click.

That’s what I thought they were for, which led to a lot of frustration when things didn’t click despite the breakthroughs I made, but it wasn’t what they were doing.

What they were doing was clear out gunk I’d left clogging up the works.

We are built to live our calling with ease and with joy. It’s like your hardware – you were meant to flow in it. Problems arise with that when things go wonky with your software. You start trying to live in chaos, fear, bitterness because your software has concluded that that’s the life you need. But all living like that does is get in the way of how your hardware is supposed to work.

Things get stuck, or move only with great effort. Pieces strain and grind against each other as they’re pushed or pulled in directions they were never meant to go.

The art of a joyful life isn’t about making things happen. It’s about reprogramming our software, about deciding to clear out and let go of the gunk so our hardware can run smoothly. Which, as any programmer (or plumber) would tell you, takes time. Sometimes a lot of it.

But one day, you’ll wander along your hardware, wondering why water still won’t flow through that broken pipe when you come across the wrench you threw (or let someone else throw) into the gears in anger years ago and forgot about.

“Oh,” you think, seeing it as nothing more than a misplaced object. “I was looking for that. Lemme just grab it and put it away.”

As you turn to throw out the wrench because the poor thing wasn’t built well to begin with and got warped beyond saving in the gears, that part of your hardware starts moving. Maybe for the first time.

And other things start moving. Other parts you were working on but couldn’t figure out.

So you go back to that pipe you were concerned about only to find your hardware in motion around it, beautiful brass clockwork whirring and clicking as the water pours through and onwards the way you always wanted it to flow. Why?

Because it was never broken in the first place.

My life’s purpose (or mission statement or primary value or what have you) is this:

I stand with people as we stare pain right in the eyes and choose joy instead.

Pain is never strength. It is the grinding gears, the warped wrench.

But joy…

Joy is our strength.

Will you join me in choosing it?

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