Living on Purpose
Ideals are the concepts that guide our most genuine selves. They are standards of perfection. The ultimate objects or aims of our endeavors. They are the intangibles that define life.
Treat others as you would like to be treated.
Values are personal judgments of worth. They rate or scale the usefulness of certain actions within the context of our ideals. They are the rules to which you adhere in your daily practice.
I value personal property.
It makes sense then that our actions should add value to the pursuit of our ideals.
I don’t steal because I believe in treating other people with respect and value personal property rights.
However, in a society where self-worth is often dependent upon the opinions of others, most of whom do not act with their value and ideals in mind, it is easy to get lost in the pursuit of fame, money, sex, etc. and forget what we hold dear.
Living on purpose forces us to reconcile the discrepancies between our ideals and actions. We must be true to that which inspires us to be the greatest versions of ourselves.
Step one in living a fulfilled life is to recognize the actions or thoughts that support or interfere with the pursuit of our ideals.
If we believe in selflessness and serving others, the endless pursuit of material gain at the expense of family, friends, neighbors, or even strangers, does not support the ultimate object of our endeavors.
I understand that money is a necessity in our culture and it can create opportunities to serve others, but do the ends justify the means when we compromise our ideals? Maybe, but there is a line where actions clearly contradict ideals. Where that line is drawn is completely dependent upon the individual, but it’s worth remembering that ideals are corruptible so please be careful.
Simply put, temporary actions can corrupt our most genuine selves.
With this information in hand, let’s get our hands dirty and find our true selves.
What really motivates us in life?
Is it success, community service, or supporting a healthy and happy family? Really think about what makes you the happiest. When do you feel most creative? What activities allow you to feel and share love? Why are you happy or what makes you unhappy? Don’t hesitate to put this down on paper. Some of us are visual learners and we should embrace that.
Now, what do we do with the majority of our time?
Work an unfulfilling job, watch TV, or shop compulsively? What activities consume a ridiculous amount of our time, money, or energy without producing anything of real value? There are undoubtedly positive habits or actions that we participate in each day and those should definitely be listed too. As long as we are open and honest there are no right or wrong answers here.
Next, do our actions support our ideals?
There are obvious contradictions that should be easy to identify. If we believe in open and honest marriage, does “neglecting” to mention lunch with a friend, coworker, or former lover of the preferred gender fit into our belief system?
There are also less obvious disagreements that should be explored. If I believe in animal rights, does supporting a local restaurant that purchase products from industrial meat operations support my belief system?
Be brutally honest. Don’t leave any stone unturned. If I am trying to eliminate sugar from my diet, I had better make sure the condiments don’t contain any high fructose corn syrup, right?
This portion of the exercise could take some time so be patient. Take breaks if you wish. Remember that your list isn’t going to be 100% complete the first time through, but you will get better with time and practice.
Finally, what can we do to better align our actions with our ideals?
If we want to be more positive, friendly, and outgoing in order to better support others in their recovery journey, we must train ourselves to see the world in a positive light so that we are more able to accept, love, and guide others. This might mean abandoning destructive thought processes that sour our perspective, which may be accomplished by simply throwing a few smiles at strangers.
There are many paths we can take to start living in our ideals and missteps will certainly be made along the way. But, when our intentions are pure and we recognize and correct unproductive actions we are on our way to growing into our best selves. Live on purpose, my friends. Let your actions advance your ideals and the rest will work itself out as it should.