by Mary Reitano
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain
The young boy jumping into the water is doing something he loves, and he is “all in!” Summer enhances our joy of living. Wouldn’t it be great to feel that passion all year? Have you done something for the first time, and suddenly felt more alive? Or, as a friend shared their dream, she became energized? We are uniquely wired for certain purposes. Upon discovering them, life is more fulfilling. Revelation may come early or late. But whether age eight or eighty, doing what you were born for jumpstarts your zest for life. As Winston Churchill said, “It is not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.”
Many find purpose in relationships. When your first child is born, becoming a parent ignites a new love within you. Investing in nieces, nephews, or grandchildren is also satisfying. Friendships can be meaningful. Anais Nin wrote that “each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Meaning can also be found in work—whether teaching children, building skyscrapers, or nursing COVID19 patients back to health. A deep sense of purpose energizes workers, even in challenges or sacrifices. Goethe wrote “The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.” Olympic runner and missionary Eric Liddell, featured in the movie Chariots of Fire, said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
We sometimes erect barriers to dreams—telling ourselves it is too costly, impractical, or family may not approve. Hopefully, parents support their children’s gifts if different than theirs. Fortunately, gender and ethnicity barriers are gradually being lifted. Consider Katherine Johnson, the African American mathematician finally recognized for essential contributions to NASA, featured in the film Hidden Figures. And, let go of age constraints. Hannah Taylor founded Ladybug Foundation at age 8 and raised 3 million dollars to feed the homeless. Steve Jobs discovered his passion at age 20, starting Apple in his parent’s garage. He said, if you have not yet found what you love to do, “Keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” People sometimes discover purpose later in life. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book, Little House on the Prairie at age 65. Grandma Moses began painting folk-art at 78.
Jessica Haby wrote about ways to find your calling, including: “Try a lot of different things. Say yes to the things that intrigue you, instead of the ones that bore you. Find a problem to solve. Being the solution makes your work feel meaningful. Be authentically uncool. Stick with what you love, even if others sneer at it. Lastly, “Give yourself permission to change your mind.” Your calling evolves throughout life.
Mary Reitano is Licensed Professional Clinical Mental Health Counselor who emphasizes positive psychology and wellness of mind, body, spirit, emotions and relationships.