Human beings are superheroes. We can fly, we have X-ray vision, we can climb buildings. We also have the power to change our minds about how we view the world. There is no need to get lost in the everyday routine of life. We are strong, intelligent, capable beings, and the power to live life to the fullest is right in our hands. We only have to accept that there are no limitations to what the world can offer us. If we open our eyes to what inspires us, the world is our playground.
One thing human beings cannot do is see what will happen down the road. More often than not, we make plans, chase dreams, and prepare for the future, only to have it all fall through. Life has a way of throwing us curveballs. One day, the sun is shining and a fresh breeze blows, but the very next day, the breeze picks up to a violent wind, and out of nowhere the rain pours down. This doesn’t only apply to nature. Sometimes we can succumb to the storms in our lives, and we feel that we can never come back from the pain and sadness that are haunting us. The despair has proven to be too much, and life will never be the same. It’s just too hard to keep going.
This doesn’t have to be the case. No, life is not fair. No one has ever claimed it is, and probably no one ever will. But, even when we can’t depend on life or other people as our source of happiness, we DO have the ability to create that for ourselves, despite whatever is raging around us. As Akshay Nanavati says in his article How to Escape Despair and Bring Meaning to Your Life “Life is challenging, get used to it and embrace it. There can be joy in challenge if you choose it. As ultramarathoners often say, it doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.” He goes on to say that even if the storms in our lives were brought about by the actions of other people, we have to take 100% responsibility for what is going on in our lives and how we respond to it.With any situation, we have the choice to learn from it, or walk away from it the same person we were before. This decision to become something bigger than our pain, this is meaning. Meaning comes when we realize our strength and our potential to be our own heroes. We can be the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, stronger for what we’ve been through.
Mr. Nanavati goes further to give suggestions as to how we can create this meaning in our lives amidst whatever we might be going through. Meaning is not inherently part of any situation, good or bad. We need to take a good look at ourselves and our circumstances, and react to it in such a way that we can grow and learn. Learning to love ourselves no matter what helps us to love those around us. We need to cut any unnecessary negativity out of our lives, and finally “connect our passion to a higher purpose.” We will be blessed twofold if we can use our new-found passion to bless others as well.
Life is crazy, and we never know what’s around the corner. But despite what goes on, what hurts and pain we are experiencing, there is one person who will never give up on us. And that is we ourselves. We have so much strength and resilience, there is no need to give up just because something bad happens. Realizing our own strength is such an exhilarating, thrilling and empowering experience. We have the power to change ourselves, we have the power to get right back up again and keep going. Once we find our meaning, this will guide our steps toward our next big revelation: personal passion. But do meaning and passion actually bring us happiness? Does happiness even really exist?
As Ken Robinson states in his book “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything,” figuring out what inspires and fires us and then getting out there and doing it results in what he calls “the element.” He describes the element as the “meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion.” (page 21) When we find this element, we discover a place where our natural capabilities and the things we most love to do collide. We don’t experience superficial happiness, which is fleeting and totally based on emotion. We are connected to a deep inner sense of worth, of fulfillment, and an inherent knowledge that this, this passion we have found for ourselves, is us.
As Os Guinness describes in his book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life,” we want to live for something definite. (page 2) We want to leave our legacy on the world. But getting to this point isn’t going to be easy. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. The key to finding our passion is first of all, being ok with who we are. If we constantly berate ourselves and self-loathe, there is no way we will ever be able to truly know what inspires us. We need to take the time to sit, breathe, and just be. To be at peace with ourselves is to be able to think calmly about our lives and find the inspiration to pursue our passions. Finding our passion leads to a deeper sense of fulfillment, which leads to a meaningful life.
Happiness doesn’t come about on its own. It is not an inherent trait. Humans are born with a desire to make something of ourselves, to leave our mark on the world. But as we grow up, this desire for a higher purpose can get lost in the noise and drudgery of everyday life, and a sense of restlessness or depression can take hold. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Our lives and the path we walk are up to no one but us.
Everyone’s path to success and fulfillment is different. We each have a different calling, a different set of skills, different passions and personalities. Imagine with me for a moment two different scenarios. One woman is blessed with the talents of a being a great wife and mom. She finds joy in the everyday routine, her passion is providing for her family and being an encouragement to others. She is compassionate, loving and empathetic. She loves being around other people, and in blessing others she herself is blessed. Her passion and thusly her happiness come from the journey of life and each little joy that every new day brings.
The second woman found from an early age that she had an affinity for sports. Soccer especially has been her passion since she was very young. Each she day she rises early, makes healthy meals, plans ahead, trains, and practices. The routine is grueling, and she doesn’t find a lot of joy or happiness in repeating the process every day. She has one goal in mind: being a part of the National Women’s Soccer League. This goal fires her. She won’t stop till she achieves it. But what happens after she achieves this goal? The world is an open door. She will find something else that fires her and work towards it. She will never stop dreaming big and setting new goals for herself.
We do have the abilities to create a life for ourselves that is fulfilling and happy. Superficial happiness is fleeting. True happiness is really not happiness at all. It’s a deep-rooted joy, a sincere love of the life we were given, and a strong contentment with who we are, the people we know, and the circumstances in which we live. This contentment gives us the ability to find the good in any situation. We won’t feel the need to be jealous of others, or to want what we can’t have.
Whether we are goal-oriented, or journey-oriented, life holds meaning and purpose for every one of us. We hold the key to our own future, no one else can decide that for us. We become better people, and the people who truly know how to bloom where they’re planted are the ones that change the world.
Nanavati, Akshay. “How To Escape Despair and Bring Meaning to Your Life.” The Change Blog. n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
Guinness, Os. “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life.” Thomas Nelson, Inc. Oct. 7, 2003.
Robinson, Ken. “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.” Penguin, 2009.