“…the quality of our lives is determined in large part by the quality of our questions. What we ask leads us to truth and can then lead us toward objectives and goals that make up the significant aspects of our lives.”– Robert Dickie,The Most Important Questions Millennials Aren’t Asking
If I may add three more questions I have learned from my mentors that will attempt to answer this big one – “What to do with my life?”
If this big one didn’t hit you yet, that is alright. Maybe, like me (or like I was before), your mantra is “live each day as it comes and let life worry itself”. Life is good that way, right? No obligation. If it is for you though, time will come when you will start to feel a hunger for something deeper and a thirst for something bigger than yourself. Life will use a bump on the road, a sudden detour, or a dead end for you to realize. Sometimes it’s just a clear road sign that says “This Way” and then you will have to decide which way to go – the good life with unbearable lightness or the best life with a significant weight?
Let us answer that question with three more.
WHO AM I?
From Plato’s maxim to Aeschylus Greek Mythology to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poetry, philosophers would point out the importance of self-examination to the path of wisdom.
Know where you came from. Family history will give insight on dealing with how you were brought up. Family makes or breaks us but really the choice is up to us. We have this tendency to repeat the cycle, be it an abuse or nourishing, and knowing ahead what happened in the past will help us steer our direction to a more ideal path. Apparently, we can inherit fears and trauma as well as intelligence and traits.
Benjamin Franklin admitted “There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one’s self.” Be unapologetically honest with yourself and if all you see is a web of shameful events and ugly traits, remind yourself “I was fearfully and wonderfully knitted in my mother’s womb and a Creator planned before me good works for me to do. My uniqueness is a part of a beautiful whole that is in progress. I am an essential part of this universe.” Find that beautiful part and start living the role.
WHAT AM I GOOD AT?
Knowing who you are will eventually make you understand what you are good at. We can’t all be presidents and lead a nation, nor can we all be sweepers and clean the street. Someone has to till the soil, dive the sea, build a house, and write a book.
How can you know? Test yourself. Whether scientific – Aptitude test, Multiple Intelligence test, Spiritual Gift test – or practical hands-on experience. What do people say you are good at? Listen to honest people with sound judgment. You may not know it yet but people can see if you have an eye for photography and good design; if you can organize and lead; or if you can communicate and write. Surround yourself with people who have honest interest on you reaching your full potential.
If you think you are not good at anything, go back to the first question.
WHAT AM I HERE FOR?
It is not enough to know what you are good at, you must also know what is it good for. There must be something more to life than living and dying. You were not born just to die later on. There must be a purpose – what you do with that very short line between the dates of your birth and death on your epitaph.
I have learned that purposeful living is intentional. What you do right now may not be your passion yet but you can be passionate about it if you believe there is a purpose why you are doing what you do. Stuck in the rut? Maybe there is a lesson you need to learn that you haven’t learned yet – mistakes you repeat, courage to let go, patience to overcome, endurance for waiting.
I think purpose is not something written on a piece of papyrus inside a bottle tied to a rock at the bottom of the ocean. My purpose is right in front of me where I am. What good works can I do here?
Yes, we can just move about the earth like carefree wanderers taking in all the beauty the world can offer. But we can also take up the burden of doing something so that one day we may leave this world a better place than when we arrived.
“The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?” ― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Sure it is difficult as it is burdensome but lightness, on the other hand, is unbearable.