By Carin Rockind
I see this all the time with my clients. Incredible people of all ages – from 17 – 67 feeling called to do “something else” but not quite sure what. And worse, feeling sad, anxious and sometimes beating themselves up for not knowing what should seem so obvious. After all, how can we not know who we are?
The fact is that most of us don’t know who we are. We did – perhaps when we were 4 years old, living our true selves. But somewhere along the way, someone or something told us that “who we are” isn’t good enough, isn’t polite, or that we can’t make money being ourselves. For instance, my 45 year old client Jen* whose elementary school teacher kicked her out of class for laughing. She grew up thinking laughing was bad and became an accountant. Miserable, she finally left it to follow her true purpose of bringing joy to others and is now a children’s photographer. Of course, she’s happy now.
In fact, research shows that when we feel like our lives have purpose, we’re happier, we have higher self-esteem, we’re more resilient to challenges, and we’re literally physically healthier. Put simply, Purpose is the “secret sauce” of life. It is like magic.
And here’s the good news: Purpose is accessible to us all. In fact, Purpose is a birthright. Each of us has a unique set of strengths, talents, passions and experiences, so each of us has a different gift that is our very own to offer the world. This “gift” is our Purpose. I can’t fulfill your Purpose and you can’t fulfill mine. Collectively, though, when we all live with purpose, we lift society to higher ground.
So how can you “find” your purpose? STOP searching for it. By definition, “searching” implies you’ve lost something. And searching is a frustrating process! Think about the last time you lost your keys. Likely you searched drawers, the refrigerator, garbage cans, and coat pockets, wracking your brain to remember where you lost them. Searching for life Purpose is the same – except worse because it doesn’t just feel like we “lost” our purpose, we feel lost ourselves. Before realizing my purpose, I was miserable. I knew I had a higher purpose, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I went from job to job, relationship to relationship, until I became so depressed that I couldn’t get out of bed without crying.
Here’s what I’ve learned: We’ve been searching in all of the wrong places. Purpose isn’t a “Title” like “Lawyer” or “Mom.” Purpose isn’t a “Passion” like “Tennis” or “Art.” And Purpose definitely doesn’t require us to quit our jobs to save a starving village somewhere in the world.
Rather, Purpose is the way in which we impact the world. It is the “How,” not the “What.” Rather than being a “Mom,” my cousin’s Purpose is “to instill confidence in children.” Rather than being a “Coach” or “Speaker” or “Author” my Purpose is to empower others to live to their full potential of LIFE.
This distinction is important because it allows us the freedom to pursue this active aim in multiple ways – as a Mom, Spouse, Teacher or Volunteer. It also allows us to create new ways to fulfill this purpose. And, it is forever fulfilling – as opposed to a “Title,” which may end when your kid turns 18 or you retire from your law firm.
Seeing your “Purpose” as active impact also allows us to craft our jobs so that they are more motivating. For instance, one of my clients is a Sales Manager who didn’t feel inspired by her product. As we uncovered her “Purpose” – “to lift others up,” we saw how she could fulfill her Purpose by lifting up her clients to look good to their bosses, lift up her team to feel wonderful about themselves and lift up her superiors with more proactive communication.
Know that your Purpose is within you. It may be covered up by others’ expectations or social ideals, but it is within. So rather than “search,” start “uncovering.” Open your mind and relax your bodies so that you can see who you have always been. Uncover what juices you up, what message you are here to share, and how you can live that purpose as a career, a parent, a partner and in life. The time is now. What will happen if you don’t uncover your purpose? How will your life continue to struggle? What will your children know of your legacy? Begin sharing your gifts – you will brighten the world and feel fulfilled in return.
Carin Rockind is a leading happiness expert and the creator of PurposeGirl, a movement to empower purpose-driven living. She has taught thousands of people to reclaim their happiness and live to their fullest potential of success and well-being. Having survived domestic abuse, divorce and armed robbery, she teaches others to be resilient, to grow from trauma and turn pain into purpose. Her expertise is positive psychology, the science of human flourishing. After 15 years as a marketing executive, Carin pursued her great passion: teaching women to thrive. She left her 6-figure, VP-title life in the Midwest to become a graduate student at 36. Carin is one of the first 250 people in the world to earn a Masters degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she then served as adjunct faculty.
Carin speaks at companies worldwide, including Morgan Stanley, AVON, BMW and Progressive Insurance. She has been featured on NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, the Huffington Post and Crain’s, and served as the “Happiness Guru” on Sirius XM’s Stars Radio. She is on faculty at The Flourishing Center and leads the Certificate in Applied Positive Psychology program in Miami, Florida. Most recently, she became an international best-selling author for her contribution in Pebbles in the Pond: Wave Three. Carin lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, Joshua.
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