Who are you?
This is such a simple question, but also equally difficult to answer well.
Most of us will be able to muster up a few answers, such as our name or maybe some of the roles in life we play, such as, mother, father, manager, leader…
Does that answer the question properly though? We are all more than a name, a job or a role, aren’t we?
What is the meaning of you? What do you stand for? What is your purpose? What do you give? What makes you magic?
Some people go searching for their life purpose, they will travel the world in an effort to ‘find themselves’. It is more common to find those people who ignore the idea that they have a purpose and just try to get through life as uneventfully as they can.
The truth is you don’t have to travel the world to work out who you are. That understanding is within you always. To fully discover it, you have to be prepared to ask yourself some challenging and deep questions… then be brave enough to answer!
Trying to ignore your purpose is a very dangerous activity. You can spend a lifetime suppressing yourself. You can spend a lifetime surviving rather than thriving, but the brutal truth is that at some point you will realise that failing to strive towards your purpose was the biggest mistake you ever made. This point, in most people’s lives, is when it is to late.
I know this to be true because I have been fortunate enough to learn from people who thought it was too late, who literally thought they were about to die. I interviewed over 50 people who had recently been a victim of a heart attack.
I asked them about life. What they thought about as they felt they were about to die. How did they rate their lives? What was the meaning of their life?
Three themes kept on reoccurring in their answers that had a profound effect on my life. I would like to share them with you:
The most commonly described factor was a wish that they had enjoyed life more, enjoyed the present moment more. They wished they had spent less time being distracted by a past they couldn’t do anything about or a future which is undetermined. It was unanimous that being fully present and take pleasure in the everyday moments would have vastly improved the quality of their lives.
One of the interviewees articulated it quite brilliantly “The present moment is all we truly and genuinely have. It is wonderful and glorious, yet I spent my time focused on the intangibles of the past and future. I missed the only thing I ever truly had.”
If you feel you are trapped in the past or future and are failing to truly savour the magic of right now, ask yourself:
- What am I grateful for right now?
- What needs to happen for me to enjoy this moment right now?
- What activity can I do everyday which will actively enable me to give my absolutely focus on the present moment?
“I wish I had told (name of loved one) that I loved them more” That is one of the key things you will think in your last moments, according to those who believed they were about to die.
Our world is not about individualism, it’s not about making sure we are okay and forget everyone else. It’s about connection with those around us.
The research suggests this belief system shouldn’t just be limited to your nearest and dearest either, as data shows us, that those people who pro-actively project love, joy, friendship and happiness to all they meet, have a greater sense of personal purpose and feel more loved, joyful, friendly and happy!
The key message I received from this, is about what we give to others. It is blindingly obvious that we need connection. What is less obvious, is that we shouldn’t be so protective over it! Most people wouldn’t dream of giving love, joy and happiness to everyone and for free. This is most likely because we are afraid of getting hurt. The realisation from these interviews is that it is ultimately more painful if we don’t!
In simple terms, the only way you can feel true, authentic and unlimited love is by giving love, freely and joyfully.
The only way you can feel joy is by giving joy.
The only way you can connect deeply with anyone, is by giving the feelings of deep connection away.
Yes, the cynics are right, there is a downside. The odd person might trample on that love you gave away, but don’t let that one person ruin your purpose lead life! The facts are 99% of people in your world will be grateful for the connection and give back those feelings two fold!
If you want to develop connection in your life, ask yourself:
- How can I make someone feel valued and special today?
- What do I need to do to make (loved ones name) feel totally and completely loved?
- What are the feelings I will gain if I show love, joy and affection to all that I meet today?
The final theme that came out loud and clear, was that in your last moments you will ask “did I even matter?” or “did I make a difference?”.
Delving deeper, this demonstrates clear links to influencing others’ lives in a positive way.
“The reason for living is giving”
We all know inherently that the feeling when helping others is fabulous and fulfilling… The problem my interviewees had was that it’s a tough world out there and we had to look after and protect ourselves. Helping others was always second or third on the agenda.
However it is clear this is not the way to live our lives! Every single person I interviewed wished, in those final moments, that they had contributed more. I think it is safe to say in our last moments we will ask the same, we will wish we had made a difference in others’ lives. If this is true… maybe, just maybe supporting others is looking after ourselves!
Maybe the fact is we all have a purpose to offer this world and those that don’t give the world all they can, regret it.
My advice… don’t have regrets, live to your potential.
Do you feel you could contribute more? Ask yourself:
- What do I love doing?
- How can I do this and create benefits to others?
- What skill or knowledge do I have right now that could improve someones life today?
Putting it all to together
The question I asked at the start of this post was “who are you?” It is a big question and you have some big answers inside. At the end of our lives we will all ask:
Did we really live our lives?
Did we connect deeply with those around us?
Did we make a difference?
Don’t wait until the end of your life to find out how you would answer them. Make sure your answers are the ones you will be proud of!