Many creative individuals I know are born with a compelling need to probe the depths of self-expression and proclaim self-liberation. They are also driven by a powerful urge to use their unique talents for a higher purpose. Living an artful purpose-driven life has many challenges. It requires conscious effort every day to overcome human traits and distractions that lure us away from our meaningful goals.
This subject has been of interest to me since the fourth grade when I chose to write my book reports about my idols Henry David Thoreau, Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa. As a creative individual and a career coach and mentor for artists this has become an important topic of discussion. In this article I share some things I’ve learned about living a life with purpose and meaning.
What Does It Mean to Live A Purpose-Driven Life?
Albert Camus addressed the deep longing of the human spirit to live meaningful lives with profound insight. “To decide whether life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question of philosophy,” he wrote in his philosophical essay “The Myth of Sisyphus”. He added, “Everything else is child’s play; we must first of all answer the question.”
Living a life worth living means we go beyond satisfying our egos. As much as we enjoy the honors and accolades that come from the fruits of our labor we realize they are short lived and superficial. We need to use our natural talents with purpose so that we can add significant quality to our experiences. We want to deliver positive gifts to those around us. And, aware that our actions have consequences, we treat our environment as a gift. We want to make a positive difference now so it will benefit future generations.
As Henry David Thoreau said “Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”
The great Indian mystic and physician Patanjali, who lived somewhere between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D., said: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
5 Forces That We Need to Overcome
Living with freedom of expression, meaning and purpose is not easy. Rick Warren points out in his New York Times bestselling book “The Purpose-Driven Life” there are five most common driving negative forces that deter us from achieving these goals. He cites them as:
2. Resentment and Anger
5. Need for Approval.
There is a lot of truth to his theory. We may feel a pang of Guilt, for example, if we fail to earn a living from creating art because our parents made sacrifices. Or, Resentment and Anger may surface when we face inequality and injustices within the art world. Also, Fear may paralyze us when we perceive our challenges beyond our competence level or outside our comfort zone.
Furthermore, focusing too much on Materialism or totally rejecting Materialism (or financial abundance) may prevent us from achieving a balanced life. And, last but not least, our Need for Approval may force us to do things to please others instead of following our intuition and permitting our own artistic voice to speak freely.
The Power of Asking Life-Affirming Questions
In our pursuit to attain a more purpose-driven life it makes sense to search ourselves to see where any of these driving negative forces are preventing us from reaching our innate potential. I believe in the power of questions. As Wayne Dyer reminds us “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” Here are some questions I ask myself to help me follow an artful purpose-driven life.
How am I living my life with purpose today?
Am I communicating with honesty and authenticity?
Am I trying to please others and ignoring my own needs?
Am I being driven by purpose or reacting from feelings of guilt, resentment, anger and fear?
What negative forces are blocking me from achieving my fullest self-expression?
Are my practical goals in balance with my spiritual aspirations?
What do I want to do with my innate gifts and skills to make a difference?
If I were to write my eulogy today what would it say?
What values am I communicating through my words and deeds?
How am I contributing to the betterment of future generations through my life choices?
How Are You Living A Purpose-Driven Life?
What personal and professional decisions and actions do you consciously make to ensure your life has meaning and authenticity? Please comment.
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