When you die, what will you be dying for? If you can live again, what will you live for?


What will you be dying for?

Come with me. To Nepal.
Let’s also go back in time. To 6th century B.C.  Thereabout. A young man, about 29, in a chauffeur driven limousine, is looking intently at a frail old man. He turns to his chauffeur, “Why does he look like this?”

The chauffeur explains, “Everyone will look like this one day. This is aging.”
Change chauffeur to charioteer, limousine to chariot, you’re there.

Look again. This guy is not an ordinary Joe. He is a prince. Everything he wants, he gets. Yet, he seems to be very curious and a little disturbed. He is searching for something. That something is like a scalp itch with your helmet on, going through the freeway. With a policeman watching you at every 10 feet.

This is the first time the young man is out of the forbidden wall that surrounds his palace. He has never seen human suffering. Everything around him has been hunky dory. He is disturbed when he sees a sick man and a decaying corpse. His street smart chauffeur explains the human conditions to him.
Moving on he sees a hippie-like man. “Is this the latest look?” The charioteer shows initiative. “He is an ascetic.”

“What’s an ascetic? Is it a high paying job?”  The story is real, according to about 500,000,000 people. The dialogue is fake. I made it up to keep the conversation going.

Anyway, the idea is not about what were said. The purpose of the story is to show how one of the greatest teachers of all time, the Buddha found his life purpose.

“Sir,” the self-driven charioteer continues. “An ascetic is a person who has renounced the world to find a way out of human sufferings.”
At this stage of the story I have to resist temptation. I am tempted to add some drama. “Suddenly the clouds parted, there is a blinding light… you can hear a divine drum roll…”

Let’ keep it simple. ‘The young man ‘Got It! Something clicks inside. He has found his life-purpose!’ The next day, he left ‘the meaningless life.’ A life that millions, who don’t know better, yearn for. It’s perfectly normal. Very few think about the price of the prize. As they say, “everybody wants to go to heaven but no one wants to die.”
Instant Insight Built Over Years

Denouncing prince hood, the Buddha would sit under a Bodhi tree to contemplate about suffering, the cause of suffering and how to avoid suffering. One day everything came together. Marshmallows! Self-denial! He found the secret to happy living! He spent the rest of his life giving the secret away to anyone who wants it. Today, more than 500 million people are trying. Very, very hard. To follow his noble path. It’s not easy to give up anything. The Buddha gave up everything to live with for something to live for.
Snap! Let’s fly to Canada. 1980.

Terrance Stanley Fox is seen running. He is not preparing for the Boston Marathon. Nor any other competitive gigs.
Look carefully. He is running on one good leg. The other has been amputated. He is running to raise money to fund cancer research.

As he is running, cancer is eating him up.
Terry Fox found his life-purpose. When he was facing a crisis. Getting more people to be aware of cancer, the crisis he was facing. Running the 5000 km Marathon of Hope, raising money to fund better research. He died in 1981 at 22. His legacy continues with the annual Terry Fox Run. $750 million had been collected for cancer research.

It’s just us. Natural procrastinators. Creatures of habits. Victims of distractions and the good life. We have the means to live with. We can buy ‘feel good happiness’ at an instant. Forgetting. The meaning to live for.

Feel Good. It’s temporary. You keep buying more. To connect the moments. That’s how you start an addiction. Mistaking it for the deep, more fulfilling, long lasting high of a life-direction.
A life-purpose returns you meaning. Life satisfaction. Fulfillment. Providing coherence to the myriad things you are focused on, doing. Opening the pathway. For happiness to find you. Again and again. Each time, feeling better and better. A railing in your life. That you can hang on. When you are stumbling. Tumbling. When you are shaken by unexpected events. Suffering a loss. Or derailed by a crisis.
Instant Insight Built Over Years

Crisis. Here’s the pervasive problem. More often than not. You confront the need to find life purpose. Only when there is a life to be saved. Yours.
Experts and psychologists lament. ‘People are forced to reflect on their purpose in life only when they faced a crisis or major tragedy.’ Existential psychologist, Irvin Yalom observes, “A real confrontation with death usually causes one to question with real seriousness the goals and conduct of one’s life up to then…How many people have lamented: “What a pity I had to wait till now, when my body is riddled with cancer, to know how to live!”
My late brother. Liver Cancer. Stage Four. I had to break through pain barrier. Spending the last few days with him. Talking about the good he wanted to do. His regrets. His new found purpose.
If I could get life coaches Richard Leider, Laura Fortgang and Mel Robbins together. I suspect a common life purpose question to you. “Why wait till a crisis?”
What will you be dying for

You cannot invent, create, manufacture or will a life purpose. It is in you. Uncover it. Connect to it. Allow it to fascinate you, driving you to sustained life satisfaction. The sense of fulfillment.
It is an intersection of your passion with your best talent and your strongest skill. All in alignment to your personal values. That sweet spot is where your deepest satisfaction resides. When this ensemble comes alive to deliver a meaning. Within and without. You’ll be doing your best work. For a larger than life objective. Immersed. In deepest focus. Enjoyed ever flowing satisfaction. Energized. By a new sense of worthiness. Savoring. The peak. A sought after, positive emotion called ‘fulfillment.’

Researchers found. Living a purpose of giving and helping others, promotes your well- being. Even raising your odds of living longer. Not interested? Go back to what you were doing. In a study, they found that senior people, who gave their time coaching young children, had less illness, stronger immune system and lived longer.

They use pigs and mixed breed dogs to sniff out the truffles. The maitake mushrooms. An expensive food, you can do without. How do you sniff out your life-purpose?  No pigs. No dogs needed. Just you. And a few good friends.

1.   Ask your friends:
What they think, are your passions? What they think, are your biggest talents? What are your best skills? Validate. What does your friends and family come to you for? What are you a go- to person for?
Write them down. Find the common theme. Find the intersection. Where your biggest talents and best skills support your passion.

Draft a meaningful purpose statement. Keep changing until you have one that energizes you. Is it meaningful? Is it coherent with the things you love doing? Will it get you out of bed in the morning, raring to go?

Usually. It is about giving. A service. To others. The bigger community. Getting is about your goals. Being is about your aspiration. Giving is usually your purpose.

2.   Ask yourself
Write a short essay of yourself. Answer these questions:

-Whom am I? As a person. As a human being. It is not a resume. Don’t include your bio stuff. Even your name and age.

What would you like to be known for? How have you enriched yourself and others? If you lie dead, what would you like people to say about you?

If you are superstitious. Just imagine it’s your 80th birthday party. You have planted receivers all over the room. Your friends are talking about you. What would you like to hear about you? Your contributions? Your best work? Your being?

Develop your purpose statement from this exercise. Keep refining until it resonates. It energizes. It is meaningful. It is coherent with the things that you love doing. Then, write your true purpose statement. Start taking action.

3.   Let life ask the questions
Viktor Frankl, the legendary psychiatrist, an Auschwitz survivor wrote this in ‘Man’s Search for Meaning:’ “What was really needed was a fundamental change in our attitude toward life. We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”
What will you be dying for?

This is accountability. Instead of griping. Complaining. About the issues you are passionate about, ask yourself. “What can I do for this cause?” “Which part do I fit in?” “How can I make better?” When you discover challenges you are passionate about, calling for your biggest talent and best skill, aligned to your values, you have found your purpose. How do I make things better? For others.  You will be beneficiary to a higher gift than the one you gave.

4.   If all else fails, try living again
It’s never too late. The axiom, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life,” is stronger with this twist. How about, “Today is the first day of your new life?” Forget about the wasted chances. The past of randomness. The first life of wandering around aimlessly. How would you make the second time more purposeful? 

Reflect. Contemplate. Was it fulfilling in your first life? What was wrong? How will you make this coming life more meaningful? Write the purpose statement for your ‘new’ life. Write and write. Until you are inspired by you. Write until you are charged by the power of the revelation. Write until you feel the energy from and connection with the statement. Congratulations. Start taking action on your just found life purpose.

 “This is the true joy of life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself in making you happy.”
Not because it is George Bernard Shaw’s. But because it is inspiring.

A force of Nature. A feverish selfish clod who complains about everything. Which one would you rather be? Have you booked your flight to fulfillment? Are you still banking on the world to make you happy? Or will you open the pathway for happiness to find you?

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