Hello there fellow travelers and friends. Today I want take a chance and tackle a question that has been asked for millenia, and that has been in the minds of men and women, especially during times when they may find themselves feeling discouraged, or just running as if in a hamster's wheel, going through the motions, the busyness, and the demands of life, work, and family. What I would like to talk about today is the purpose... or the purposes of life. Now let me begin by first admitting that these are just some humble thoughts and ideas. I realize that these ideas may feel somewhat abstract, but they are simply meant to inspire, and to connect you to principles and truths that I believe will compel courage, joy, meaning, energy, and a resolve to move forward in productive and powerful ways.
There are many ideas, philosophies, doctrines, and beliefs in this world. I'm not here to select or to proselytize a specific one, I'm just here to generally provide you a benign context... a base... what I believe is a powerful psychology and mindset that can nurture your life, and that can provide you with a powerful source of motivation. Nietzche, a well known German philosopher said that "Those who have a why to live can bear with almost any how." It is this "why" or "why's" that I'm hoping to touch on today, and that I hope can provide you with a solid philosophy to tackle life in a courageous, confident, and awesome way. In addition, I hope that these humble ideas can become a backdrop or a lens that allows you to interpret the events in your life from a place of purpose and significance, instead of just random and reckless events that cause us suffering, or random feelings of enjoyment.
I have to admit that many of these ideas have been marinating inside of my mind for many years of clinical and personal experience. I find myself especially thinking about these during long drives, or walks, where my mind travels into these rabbit holes, and more times than not, ends up in strange places. So, without further ado, let me introduce what I have labeled, "The 4 C's of Purpose." Let me tell you what they are, and then I can quickly address each one with a little more detail and emphasis:
Let's begin with the first:
Crescendo. This word translated from Portuguese, which is where I'm from and where I grew up, simply means ‘growing.' Simply stated, one of the purposes of life, and one that I believe is evident in everything that we see, is that we must be in a state of gradual crescendo, growth, or advancement. Abraham Maslow, famous for the hierarchy of needs that all of you would recognize, disputed that mankind wasn't just driven by sexual and violent drives, but that indeed, mankind was driven toward what he called Self-Actualization. He said "What a man or woman can be, they must be." His argument was simple, once our more physiological needs for safety, and our psychological needs for love, and esteem were being met, that we are all driven to grow to the measure of our creation... to self-actualize, and to ensure that our actions are aligned with our highest principles. I remember Tony Robbins the famous coach describing this state in these resolute words, "You're either growing or dying." I think this concept is true. I call this idea ‘the law of the universe,' which simply stated is this, whatever you invest in, and put energy into, expands and grows, and whatever you neglect, atrophies and naturally dies. So let me give you two ways of immediately applying this first purpose of life. 1) You must grow. You must be investing. You must be stretching. Everything in your body, mind, and spirit is made to grow and evolve, and evolve you must. For happiness and joy to be a part of your life, you must engaged in this process. 2) This perspective of growth and evolution can become a powerful lens by which you interpret both the successes, failures, joys, and great sufferings of your life. With this understanding you can view your life and experiences as essential and critical to your growth, ultimately coming to believe with certainty that every moment prepares you for the very next moment, and that all things, all experiences can ultimately by synthesized for our good; for our enrichment; and for the cultivation of a more understanding, loving, and compassionate individual.
In this life, we must create. Edward De Bono said, "There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns." In a sense, our imagination and creativity is what truly distinguishes us from other species. Weather it's in business, art, on a soccer pitch, on the pages of your personal journal, on an instrument, or in countless other ways, we must create new ideas, new patterns, forging new paths. Creating is not only a purpose of life, but it is also a powerful source of satisfaction, accomplishment, and long-term joy. I like the words of Austin Kleon on this matter, he says "Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use – do the work you want to see done." I find that our ability to create is especially enhanced when we truly engage with something deeply, and when that something begins to become second nature, and find that we become especially susceptible to inspiration and moments of true creativity. My wife tells me all of the time "I'm not just not very creative," and I love my wife, but she's wrong on this one. Her life is full of creativity, and the creativity that lies dormant inside of her, is only still asleep, because she has convinced herself that she is just not that kind of person. So remember that creativity is much like anything else. The more you engage and invest in it, the more it expands, grows, and becomes a source that is familiar. To create is divine my friends.
Contribute. There is no doubt in my mind that one of the purposes of mine and your life is to contribute. All levels of contribution count... every effort is important and valuable. Whether you've discovered the theory of relativity, or delivered the iphone to the masses, or came up with the intermittent windshield wiper (btw, if you want to watch an interesting show, watch "Flash of Genius), or if you're just contributing to the happiness or education of your children, or friends, or spouse, there can be no purpose in this life, without you personally being a giver and contributor in this life. So build, create, invent, care for and nurture, love, and be a contributor to the world and the people around you. Once again, not only is this an essential purpose of all humanity, but it also is a tremendous contributor to our happiness. Conscious acts of goodwill, kindness, friendliness, and service, are active and direct contributors to your enjoyment of life. So go into your day today, and tomorrow, and thereafter, and be a light. Be an instrument for good. Be a source of hope and optimism for others. Be a harbor and a safe place for those who are in the midst of struggles and challenges that seem to be overwhelming them, and by the way, this is most of us. Contribute. Give to charity. Find ways to serve in your community, in your churches, in your places of work, in your schools, and of course in your home. Don't wait. Don't sit there with your hand out waiting for things to be reciprocated back. Jesus said "Let not thy left hand know what thy right hanb doeth," and the Buddha said "Give it and forget it." Learn to give without thought of retribution.
Connect. I remember watching "Shadowlands" an old show with Anthony Hopkins in the which he was playing the role of C.S. Lewis. In that movie I recall a quote that has always stayed with me regarding what C.S. Lewis considered the purpose of life... he said "To learn to love, and to be loved." In the previous podcasts I've shared with you my thoughts on relationships and how they impact our overall happiness, in fact, research has clearly shown that the most reliable predictor of long-term happiness is quality relationships. So learning to connect, and being a willing connector... loving and learning to be loved... friendshipping, and learning to be a friend, are key purposes to your life, and an area that you must be investing in if you wish to fulfill the measure of your creation or life. So pick the best books, the best podcasts, the best classes, and learn some additional skills that you can place in your quiver, and that you can begin to utilize in your life. Learn to be a little softer and open hearted with people. Bury your weapons of war and your tendency to be easily offended or to take everything so dang personally, and instead learn to be humble, meek, easily entreated, and become a connector in this life, instead of someone that goes about trying to pick fights. Place a primary emphasis on connecting to your spouse, with your children, with your parents (when possible), with your friends and coworkers. For those of you who are religious and spiritual, you can work on nurturing your connection and relationship with your higher power. Connect, connect, connect, always, and always. When relationships become strained and stuck, be the humble one that is willing to wave the white flag... always be the one that is willing to repair and accept repairs from others. I'm not suggesting you stay in relationships that are abusive, I am suggesting that you move forward even more compassionate, kinder, and loving, and as a result truly learning from the sadnesses of your life.
My awesome friends. I hope that these ideas are of some benefit to you, and provide you with a little structure... a simple format that you may use as a guide... and as a measuring stick to help you stay fresh, alive, and driven with purpose. So remember these 4 C's. Crescendo, which means to be growing. Create, and the idea that we are meant to create in this life, and we must do it. Contribute. Your ability to consciously becoming a giver and a contributor to the goodwill and advancement of this world. And finally Conncect, and use that as a reminder that as physical and spiritual beings, we are indeed made to connect, in fact we are happier, more resilient, and more effective when connected. Thanks for hanging out with me today, and I'll see you next week.