At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought but what we built; not what we got but what we shared; not competence but our character; and not our success but our significance. Live a life that matters. Live a life of Love. — Unknown
Many of us live a life with no goal in mind. We are just drifting through life as if we find pursuing a goal and living life a big effort. We are living dead. No passion, no purpose, no destination in mind.
A couple of years back, I went through this phase. A disconnected Zombie. I had lost my sense of direction. Was working in an auto control mode. Would start my day, go to the office, work on the project, get back home, have dinner and sleep.
Until One day, while I was struggling with this state, Anita, our domestic help, showed me how to celebrate life. What she said, made me come out of my disconnected state of mind. She taught me how to Live a life with purpose.
Is it enough to just Live?
“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” ―Winston S. Churchill
Anita worked in a few homes in our locality, earned roughly around ten thousand rupees per month. She was married and had two lovely daughters. Her husband was a drug addict and never contributed to the household expenses or to the children’s education. Anita paid him a daily allowance for his alcohol, just to avoid facing the domestic violence at home.
Despite her difficulties, Anita always looked happy. She would never complain and make excuse for the situation at home. She carried a satisfied look. Curiosity forced me to ask her one day. What keeps you so happy every day?
Her response shook me. She said she had a purpose in life. She wanted to make sure that both her daughters went to school, had a good education and gained financial independence.
For making sure that her children had two square meals a day and went to school, Anita worked extra hours. She loved knitting and candle making. Anita learned these skills and in her spare time, knitted for her neighbors and made candles and sold them to the shops in and around her home. Her struggles were huge.
Here was a lady who had her destination clearly marked and had a sense of direction. Her purpose in life was so clear, that she could take on any challenges that came her way. She was in a flow state and could connect with what really mattered to her. She was in full control and never took life for granted. Anita had no formal education, but she was full of energy and dreamt big for her daughters.
Living in a flow state
“Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness
I was certainly not in a flow state. The passion and purpose that had brought me to my job and the project had gone missing. I no longer connected with the project. Even the small easy task of the project would give me nightmares. Small chores in the house made me stressful.
Anita’s story was enough to push me out of the comatose state.She was in a flow state. Even if she had to swim against the rising currents in her life, she was unstoppable. She was working to achieve something in this life. Her story changed my perspectives on life forever.
What is a flow state? positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has defined it as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”
Ask for help
“Never let your ego get in the way of asking for help when in desperate need. We have all been helped at a point in our lives.”
― Edmond Mbiaka
Anita’s response to my question really had me thinking. It was as though she had thrown a challenge at me. I took the help of a coach to help me uncover my passion and purpose. I knew I had all the resources within me to address my problem, but I needed someone to challenge me, provide me with perspectives and be a sounding board.
The coach helped me to see things within myself, which I had overlooked and never thought of before. I was able to connect back to my passion and purpose in life. I realized that to have a purposeful life, I needed to find a purpose in what I was doing. It wasn’t easy. It was a roller coaster ride.
For cutting through all the chaos, I needed help and I was not hesitant to ask for it. My coach held me accountable to my goals. As I kept moving and grinding towards my goals, my coach stood by me.
“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” ―Barbara Hall
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