I’ve been listening to Deepak Chopra’s “Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” on repeat lately — when I’m at the gym or on the subway, I pick up wherever I left off and get a dose of Deepak.
A few ideas stop me every time they loop back. One of them is his notion that there is one thing that you are better at than anyone else on Earth and that one thing is what you are meant to do to serve humanity.
I like to think I’m good at a few things, from writing to making spaghetti sauce, but better than anyone else? That’s a tall order. It’s intimidating. And if it’s true, I’m not sure I’ve found it, because I am very confident other people write better than I do and make better sauce than I do.
Mark Manson’s post, “Seven strange questions that help you find your life purpose” appeared just as I’d been mulling this idea. He writes:
Chances are you’re more like me and have no clue what you want to do. It’s a struggle almost every adult goes through. “What do I want to do with my life?” “What am I passionate about?” “What do I not suck at?” I often receive emails from people in their 40s and 50s who still have no clue what they want to do with themselves.
Part of the problem is the concept of “life purpose” itself. The idea that we were each born for some higher purpose and it’s now our cosmic mission to find it. This is the same kind of shitty logic used to justify things like spirit crystals or that your lucky number is 34 (but only on Tuesdays or during full moons).
Here’s the truth. We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time.
So when people say, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my life purpose?” what they’re actually asking is: “What can I do with my time that is important?”
Then Mark offers seven questions to reflect on to help you identify what’s important to you, because of course the answer is very personal. In an entertaining, unpretentious, humorous way, he frames that exploration with questions like:
- WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR OF SHIT SANDWICH AND DOES IT COME WITH AN OLIVE?
- HOW CAN YOU BETTER EMBARRASS YOURSELF?
- IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?
Mark’s thinking does connect up with the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, particularly in that he advocates looking for a way to serve humanity by making the world a better place. This warms my heart and is a guiding principle of how I want to live my life — making the world better than it would be without me. George Bailey could be the patron saint of that approach.
Rather than getting paralyzed trying to find the one single best way to make the world better, I’d rather do *something* instead of nothing. Maybe in that action, I can move closer to identifying where I most excel — or maybe I’ll just find ways to spend my time that feel important.
I strongly suggest you read Mark Manson’s full article here, for motivating thoughts like this:
Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.