To live on purpose means bringing your unique contributions to the world as a meaningful offering of service to something greater than yourself.
In your journal, list all your gifts and talents, from languages you speak to parenting skills. Don't be modest! These are your assets. Then list what breaks your heart: children in need, climate change, illiteracy, animal rights, health inequality, civil unrest, inadequate elder care—the list could go on and on. Consider how you could contribute to changing that. This is your compass and fuel for action and gratification. Anything on these lists may reveal one of your purposes.
Since time began, people have had close relationships with animals: in the wild as a food source or threat, as a spirit totem connecting us to other higher domains, as allies, as domesticated work animals, or as companions and pets.
Perhaps you are fortunate to have a pet. If so, find ways to spend more time playing and learning from one another. Try to listen to what your pet is communicating to you. If you don't have a pet, visit an animal shelter to see if you might want to volunteer. Or develop a relationship with a friend's pet. If you're able, try to observe animals in the wild and celebrate their diversity and interconnection.
Spending time with elders can be a great gift not only to them but to yourself.
Sit and talk with an elder, whether a family member, neighbor, or someone else you know. Slow your pace, share some tea, listen with an open heart, and practice kindness and compassion. Ask questions, be patient, and keep your humor. You may be surprised to learn their life story—a story of hardship, privilege, risk, or reward—and you may be overwhelmed to find how rich a life they've led and how much wisdom they hold. Seek out more than one person advanced in years. If you are lucky, you just may end up with a dear friend and a role model for how you'll want to be as you age.
Research shows that acts of kindness not only benefit the person who receives the kindness but also release endorphins responsible for feelings of contentment in the person offering the kindness.
A simple daily act of kindness for yourself, for someone else, or for Nature will do wonders for your mood. Can you commit to thirty days of kindness? For yourself, set aside time in silence to affirm your life's path, to recognize your courage in trying something new, or to acknowledge being just the way you are. Forgive a mistake. Take time to walk outside and notice beauty, or just rest in a peaceful spot. For others, find small, simple ways to offer love, support, and encouragement with notes, calls, sharing food, doing a chore, or bringing flowers. For Nature, invite in wildlife with garden plants and birdseed, or give to causes and charities that work to restore habitat and diversity.
Listening with an open heart and without agenda is one of the greatest gifts we can offer someone.
Invite a friend or family member to go for a walk or for tea. Ask how that person is doing— and be present for the answer. With sincere open questions, encourage them to share more deeply. Or make a phone call to a good friend: Sometimes it's when speaking on the phone that we get the chance to really listen. When someone is lonely, sad, or trying to make a big decision, it is a gift to track and remember what is being shared so you can be a clear mirror for them.
I think about forgiveness when I'm watering the garden and suddenly little or no water comes out because there's a kink in the hose.
Is there a situation or person in your life you have not forgiven? Are you carrying resentment about something within yourself? Take this opportunity to be completely honest. Write down on a piece of paper: "I don't forgive because____." Reflect on how long you have been living with anger, resentment, or negative judgment, and think about how it makes you feel. Write three benefits for holding on to the resentment exactly as you're carrying it. Maybe it's outrage or disappointment, or maybe it seems easier than dealing with the situation directly.