You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge. But it can only emerge if something fundamental changes in your state of consciousness.
Sometimes we feel like we’re drifting through life, going through the motions. Apathetic. I often feel that way in the middle of a work week, when everyone’s taken a piece of me and I wonder if there’s more to life than the push and pull of the marketplace.
That feeling of wandering, being tapped out and asking where did the joy go in my life is often a trigger, a nudge to dig deeper, to find our purpose. Instead of continuing to flounder overwhelmed and disjointed, I find it helpful at those why-am-I-here moments to stop and ask myself, What’s my passion? What brings me joy? Not just a fleeting sense of I-got-a-parking-space happiness, but deep fulfillment—the kind of feeling you feel in your gut when you know you really helped someone today. You connected. You did something to help add a little more goodness to the world.
Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451 identifies the importance of finding your life’s purpose through the wisdom of his grandfather:
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
Our legacy it would seem is connected to our purpose—finding out and focusing our lives on those things we live for, the people we would die for, the reason we get up in the morning. By discovering our life’s purpose and pursuing it, simply because it makes us feel good on the inside, we find contentment. Our vocation, Theologian Frederick Buechner reminds us, is where our greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.
Game Plan: Reflect on what gives you deep joy, what you would like to leave as your legacy? What did you help do or whom did you help guide that made the world a better place? Let that purpose, that joy, become your guiding light.