This is one of the most common age old questions that every person at some point has asked themselves, regardless of their race, gender, culture or differences. It is the question that ultimately goes to the core of our happiness, because a life lived with purpose is one that is both more fulfilling and most in line with our authentic selves. At the end of the day, most of us are striving to live the best versions of our selves. As trite as that may sound.
So with such an important question, and with so much at stake it is crucial we get this right…but we are never given clear tools or direction when it comes to this subject. If you listen to the people around you, you run the risk of receiving very conflicting advice. So what is the best advice? Follow your heart, do what you are good at, go to University and get a good job, do something that can make you a lot of money, do something meaningful. All this advice, while well intentioned can be too vague and in most cases potentially damaging. When we value the wrong things and head down a path that isn’t reflective of our truest desires the results can be catastrophic. They can lead to depression, addictions and cause us to make reckless and hurtful decisions. Psychologist and Behavioural Modeler Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka, combined scientific research data with ancient Eastern spiritual wisdom gaining groundbreaking insights to our “in built” life navigation system we know as our “brain”. However, what is so intriguing about their research is the discovery that we actually have three classified brains within our bodies, these are the head brain which is responsible for cognitive functions and imagination and creativity, our heart brain which possesses brain neurones and harbours the emotion of compassion, passion, joy and love and then there is the gut brain also known as the enteric brain which deals with our intuition, fear and courage and deep rooted emotions. Their fascinating book called mBraining, goes into great detail about how each of these brains work and why it so important to fully understand their functions in order to gain optimal use of each brain for the benefit of our lives. I will discuss the concept of the head and gut brain further in my future blog posts, but today I want to focus on the heart brain and how it is essential for finding our purpose in life.
There are a vast number of medical reports of heart transplant patients retaining the memories and even developing the same likes as their donors. There are reported cases of a professional boxer’s heart going to a young teenage girl who suddenly developed a desire for boxing classes, a young man who died in a motor bike accident and donated his heart to a women in her 40’s. She reported having strong cravings for chicken nuggets and beer after she awoke from surgery, both of which she had never consumed prior to her transplant and it was revealed later that the donors favourite food was chicken nuggets and beer. There are also disturbing cases of recollection of the donors death being passed on to the transplant recipients. There was the case of a young police officer who was shot in the face, the transplant patient was not aware of the circumstances of his donors death. A few months after he received his transplant, he began having very vivid dreams about a blunt force to the face, and would wake up with the sensation of being hit in the face. He became quite distressed over the events and began asking doctors about the details of his donor, upon further investigation he eventually discovered that his donor was a young policeman who was shot in the face in the line of duty.
So, what does this have to do with finding your life’s purpose? Everything… Ancient spiritual wisdom talks about how the heart is the conduit for receiving information from our eternal source/ infinite selves, it is the centre of that which connects us all through the feeling of compassion, that which compels a person to place his life in imminent danger to save a stranger from drowning, or a burning vehicle. Our heart is the key to our happiness and living authentically. Basically in order to know what you are meant to do in life, we are born with a directional navigator, it is directed by the feeling of joy and passion. You may have heard of people who are able to make a substantial and enviable living doing what they are most passionate about, they are usually revered as the rare and lucky ones. But they are just ordinary people who realised this basic truth. Your sole mission in life is to live as joyfully, passionately and excitedly as possible, without harming others. That state of being is your guiding post for how you should live, when you make a choice that is not the most exciting or passion filled, you may be told by those around you that it is the most practical or lucrative but this is where you must trust yourself and the Universal energy of life as being one that works for you and not against you. Your passion and excitement is the emotion from your heart brain that reveals the most about who you are, and when you follow that no matter how impractical or daunting, it will always lead you in the direction that is most in line with the path you are meant to walk on this Earth. However, the other brains are important too, your heart gives you the directions of where you need to go, but you must utilise your head brain to imagine how you will get there and the gut brain to develop the courage to take the necessary action. Your excitement may even change over time, and you may not necessarily end up where you first planned, but one thing I can guarantee if you live most of your life this way with unshakable faith, is it will lead you to a life of fulfilment and abundance, and your life will be filled with passionate excitement. Isn’t that what most of us want to be able to reflect on when we are on our death beds?
A friend of mine recently referred me to a Ted talk that coincidentally was about this very topic, the talk was made by a woman named Roz Savage who had walked away from her high powered office job because her heart always longed for adventure. She discussed how she grappled with this urge for many years, she had a very lucrative career and felt that was the “usual” path to a successful life. But she never felt fulfilled and realised that she wasn’t getting any younger and didn’t want to waste any more of her life not pursuing her dreams. So one day she gathered the courage to quit her job and seek adventure. She is the first women to have sailed the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean solo. She noted that her bravery in leaving the security of her job for a life of adventure was attributed to the day she sat down and wrote two obituaries for herself, one obituary was in reference to the safe life she was living and the second based on a woman who lived fiercely with adventure. She realised she wanted to be the latter. So there was really only one real option, to do it. These days she spends most of her life devoted to raising awareness of the environmental impact of man made waste in the oceans, and the need for changes in our waste disposal habits. Her life has now become one of passion and service. The ingredients to having a most fulfilling life.
However, there is one major catch to this, and this is the predominant reason why most of us are prevented from, or held back from, fully embracing this way of life and listening to our heart’s messages. Our deeply entrenched subconscious belief that we will not be supported if we pursue this form of life, and that it is not feasible or that we simply will wind up broke, homeless and worse off. This is a serious problem, many people have set so many limits on themselves and when we hear of stories of people who are able to break the mould and achieve their goals, regardless of how impractical it may have seemed, we tend to separate ourselves and pin point aspects of their story that makes it impossible for us to replicate; which ultimately means we can never be like them or achieve the same success. But what we fail to realise is that we are the ones setting these limits in our lives. Our imagination is the single most potent tool for making anything we want happen in our lives, and occasionally we are just a few inches off hitting the mark. Sometimes the problem isn’t not knowing what our purpose in life is, it is finding the courage to pursue it, coupled with the imagination and creativity to make it happen. You will not live forever, and you do not have forever to figure this out. Start by really examining why you have made the current choices in your life, what beliefs you have that are severely limiting you from living your most fulfilling and authentic life and work on how you can change it.