(Second of 3-part series)
NEW YORK – In the first part of this three-part article, I pointed out that having a clear life purpose is the starting point of a journey to happiness. Further, life purpose must benefit others in a significant way. One’s happiness level goes higher when more and more people derive benefit from the activity or service you perform in the fulfillment of your life purpose.
The first part of that three-part article was: A Life Purpose: Do You Have One?
I related to you evidence I found on the strong relationship between a life purpose and happiness from three distinct sources – events in my own life, conversations with happy people and acquaintances, and various books on happiness.
I relayed some key events that sparked my own psychological transformation from being just an aimless drifter to someone who became focused on making a contribution to the betterment of people. While leaving a legacy that will affect millions of people is difficult for most, it is doable if you have a large dream. Three political luminaries who left large, lasting legacies to the world are Dr. Jose Rizal, Mahatma Gandhi, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Specifically, I started to become a happy young man in the freshman year of my high school when I began to soul-search to decide what I wanted to do in my life, what activity is going to be my central focus, and how that activity will benefit people. That activity was writing, particularly about matters that had not or seldom been covered in mass media.
I state here what I wrote in part 1 as my life purpose. I call it a mission now: My mission in life is to help improve the lives of others with the power of information.
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My case is a little different. I was orphaned at age 11, so I developed my life purpose with very little input from others, except for student leaders and valedictorians. On requests from others to tell them about my background, I simply reply: “I pretty much grew up all by myself.”
I also learned not to make decisions on what you want to do in life is based solely on someone’s input. You may end up becoming miserable doing something someone suggested and blame that person who suggested you should get into the lucrative field of neurosurgery, for example.
Then you cut a person’s nerve thinking it is scar tissue, and your patient becomes physically disabled. All along your heart pined for dancing and singing that makes you extremely happy like it did recently-deceased Broadway star Carol Channing who discovered at age 4 that that’s what she was going to do in life. Who knows? One day your hit song will rake in millions of dollars.
So first begin doing things based on what your heart tells you. If your heart tells you that you are happy listening to people’s problems and finding solutions to what troubles them, then perhaps you could be happy as a clinical psychologist.
I learned from my soul-searching, speaking to happy, successful people, and reading various books on the life purpose=happiness relationship that this strategic Q&A plan below works best:
Q-Who should you consult to help you develop a life purpose, your key to happiness? Answer: Consult people who say they are really imbued with happiness doing what they love to do, and then check if what they do or did benefit large numbers of people. Example: Bill Gates
Q-What ways should you employ in discovering what you love to do that will perhaps become the central focus of your life purpose that will hopefully make you happy doing that every day? Answer: Jot down three activities that bring you happiness. With repeated practice, discover which one activity you want to do day in and day out. On my own, I derived immense pleasure when my crosswords were accepted for print in the Sunday magazines of The New York Times and the Washington Post.
When is the best time to develop your life purpose? Answer: Basically anytime that is suitable to test that what you do, makes you happy.
Where is the best place? Answer: Any place that is suitable to do the activity you love. If you want to be a track star, find a track near you, and a timer.
Note importantly that the simple strategic plan I’ve outlined below should be much more than a one-time exercise. Do each of the four components repeatedly until your mind has firmly decided what is certainly going to be your life purpose until you feel happy.