Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.“-Helen Keller
I love this quote from Helen Keller. A woman who couldn’t see, hear, or speak, but yet spent her life inspiring and motivating others to find their own purpose.
About 15 years ago my wife purchased Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” for me. I remember opening the book and reading the first lines that said “It’s not all about you.” I closed the book, looked at my wife, and said, “Yes, it is all about me.” I didn’t touch the book again for about 3 years.
At that time in my life, my life was simply all about me. I did nice things for other people but at my core was a very self-centered, egotistical man. Strangely, much like the Prodigal Son of the Bible, it took me losing my business and all of the “things” that I thought were important to open my eyes to the things that really were. I read “The Purpose Driven Life” during that time of my life and it really changed my focus on everything. And it helped me realize that my purpose in life was not to accumulate as much “stuff” as I possibly could but instead to use my skills and talents to help other people.
As I started my health and fitness journey I prayed often that by changing my life I would be able to inspire others to do the same. That passion for helping others accomplish what they once perceived as impossible is what keeps me going. It drives me. It is the fuel for my engine. And I have received countless messages from people, some I don’t even know, who have shared with me how my story has encouraged them to have the strength to change their lives. Those comments and stories are more valuable to me than anything money could ever buy. They are affirmations of my belief that happiness, as Helen Keller says above, is not about taking care of yourself but about being committed to a purpose.
My mother in law was probably one of the happiest people that I ever knew. She didn’t spend her time worried about a lot of things and she wasn’t concerned about driving the fanciest cars, or having the nicest things. Over the years she had found her purpose. Her purpose was to give. She and my father in law owned a hardware store in a small town in South Central Kentucky and for years she would always give every child that came into the store a small brown paper bag filled with candy, suckers and a 50 cent piece. At her visitation, I was amazed at how many people came up and said that one of their favorite things to do as a child was to go to Rogers Hardware to see Ms. Jean and get their brown paper sack of goodies. I’m not talking about 20 year olds either. I’m talking about men in their 40’s and 50’s. It was absolutely amazing to see how her kindness had touched so many people.
At the funeral, the preacher told a story about my mother in law that summarized her life. She drove by the church one day on the way to meet with someone who couldn’t get out much any more. She always drove an old truck from the store as she never really cared about having a fancy car. On the way back by the church, she stopped to talk to a volunteer who was mowing the grass. As she did on so many occasions, she shook hands with the person and slipped some money into his hand that she had folded in hers. The man told her that he wasn’t mowing the grass for payment. He said it was his way of serving the Lord. My mother in law looked at him and said “And this is my way” and she gave him the money.
So what is your purpose? Have you ever truly spent the time to stop and think about it? If you have, congratulations. You are most likely on the path to living a very happy life. If you haven’t, I’d like to challenge you this week to spend time thinking about that. And I’d highly recommend “The Purpose Driven Life” if you’ve never read it.
Let’s find your worthy purpose and get you on the path to a happier life!