For years I’ve been helping people uncover a truly meaningful purpose in life. There are a number of truly wonderful reflective (research based) activities you can do to demystify purpose, break it down, understand it and start to form it for yourself. This is your life’s work to keep focused on it and refine it to give you meaning in your life.
I love it so much that I developed a 3-month online program called the Greater Good Collective, where I walk through these reflective activities as well as practical challenges to get you not only thinking and reflecting but talking with others, stretching yourself and doing stuff – to help you uncover your purpose in life!
In this post, I wanted to share four practical activities that will help you in your journey to purpose as they have done in mine.
“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” – Kofi Annan, seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Volunteering has been the BIGGEST pathway to purpose for me. I started volunteering as a ten year old in my school environment club and I’ve never stopped. The picture to the right is me at my first international conference representing my community project and country!
It’s allowed me to see the challenges in the world and focus on how I can contribute to them. It’s given me a platform to develop my skills and master my strengths. It’s offered me the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with some incredible people from around the world! The list goes on.
Finding a cause that is not focused on you but other people (or animals or our environment) taps into a deep force of energy in our lives.
How to start?
- There are many websites that can connect you with volunteering opportunities. If you have no idea where to start – try a few out to see what really connects and engages you.
- See if your family, friends or workplace are involved in any volunteering projects.
- Get a group of friends together and find a place to volunteer as a group.
2. Travel abounds
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustav Flaubert, French novelist.
Whether it’s a regional town in Western Australia, a very large city in China or the regional communities of Italy, my travels have taught me so much and maybe most importantly it’s taught me that how I live is not the only way to live.
There is a huge world out there. Taking the time to explore how people live their lives gives us a greater understanding of our own culture, values and norms. It highlights our own worldview and hopefully allows us to gently uncover how you came to that worldview.
Another way that you can do this in your own backyard is to meet people who are different to you. Perhaps from a different culture or religion. Attend multicultural festivals, eat at different restaurants, explore the different cultural museums. In Western Australia (my home town), we have the incredible Museum for Freedom and Tolerance facilitating powerful experiences to break down barriers and invite curiosity and learning.
How to start?
- Be a tourist in your own city.
- Learn about another culture.
- Pick up a novel that takes you to another place.
3. Experience (or create your own) art
“Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.” – Anni Albers, German-born American textile artist and printmaker.
We are all artists, remember that! Music, art, theatre, comedy or dance to name just a few.
These experiences get us out of our heads and into our bodies. It’s an opportunity to truly be in the present moment – without worrying about the past or the future. To just be! This is the transformative power of the arts.
Art gives us a safe place to challenge boundaries and learn through being part of an absorbing experience. The creativity of art gives us inspiration in our own lives and helps us fully tap into the human experience.
I love how art organisations are continually stepping up and giving us transforming experiences to share with our friends and family. I can highly recommend Perth Symphony Orchestra and the WA Ballet in my hometown.
How to start?
- Go visit the Art Gallery, see a play, go to a concert or comedy show.
- Get into art yourself – sign up for an art class, dance class or do some improv!
- Listen to different music than you usually would – jazz, African, hip hop or classical.
4. Revel in Nature
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson, marine biologist, author, and conservationist.
There was nothing like hiking up the mountain to Tiger’s Nest (Paro Takstang) to the sacred Buddhist site and temple located on the cliffside of Paro Valley in Bhutan (see the pic above at the halfway point to Tiger’s Nest which you can see in the distance on the side of the cliff). The natural environment has a transformative power to invigorate. The good thing is you don’t even need to go to Bhutan to experience this. The beach, stars, trees, waterways and connection to animals can do this for us too.
Nature improves our mental health. It helps us to think clearly. It encourages us to breathe deeply. My friend Erika runs beautiful walking tours in Margaret River and around the world.
Nature creates this space for mindfulness. It encourages movement and increases the use of our senses – touch, smell, sound and sight.
The trouble is that we are too disconnected from nature in modern society. We forget about its transformative nature. We wonder why we lack clarity when we are cooped up in buildings all day every day.
How to start?
- Watch a sunrise or sunset. Observe the rhythms of nature.
- Find a short walk or hike close to home.
- Find your natural environment happy place – is it at the beach, under the trees, near a river, the outback, in a park or out under the stars.
Get started today
And this is just four practical experiences to help you find and live your true purpose in life! These practical experiences can support and inspire the self reflection and awareness needed to define your purpose in life.