Originally published on: leannehalyburton.com
“What is my life purpose… what am I supposed to be doing?” is something I am often asked – but it is not something that I am able to answer… at least not in a short and straightforward way.
For the individual soul, defining our own reason for entering into the experience of life on planet Earth could possibly be the purpose; it would require of us a willingness to develop a curious and loving relationship with ourselves – an ongoing journey of discovery. We humans have an unhelpful habit of seeking answers and instructions that are black and white, simple to understand, and easy to follow… reassuring us that we are doing the ‘right’ thing. But ‘right’ in whose eyes, and in line with whose idea of how we should be developing, and what we should be achieving? God? The universe? Our parents? Society?
I don’t believe that coming up with one specific reason for our existence is necessary or even possible… at least not for the vast majority of souls who will travel through physical life. And again, for most of us, it is unrealistic to expect to be able to define an overall purpose when we are only part-way through our lives… as time ticks away, surely we are going to evolve and change, redefining our beliefs and perspectives (well, ideally, that is!). And if that is true, we need to be completely open to wisdom – the most valuable commodity in human life – as it enables us to become the best possible version of ourselves.
However, the thing about wisdom is that it is only ever available in hindsight… and even then, only to those who are open to it. Age and length of time spent on Earth do not automatically imbue us with wisdom, regardless of experience. It is how we perceive and process our experiences, how we choose to respond to those experiences, and who we then evolve into, that dictates how much genuine wisdom we are likely to gain. And promoting something, even if it is ‘spiritual’ or enlightening, doesn’t necessarily mean that we are wise; the real power lies in why and how we have come to know what we know, how we have changed as a result, and why we are compelled to share it with others… and why we may sometimes be compelled not to share it.
So, becoming genuinely wiser as our lives unfold is one major purpose that we all share… but not the only one.
I am fairly committed to the idea that all souls enter into the human experience in order to be creative – firstly, energetically, secondly, physically – and it is this that is the actual purpose behind human existence – even over and above the acquirement of wisdom.
However, just because that belief makes complete sense to me, it doesn’t mean that it is an immutable universal truth that should automatically be accepted by every other human being who lives; it may just be my own illusion, born of the way in which I perceive life, and therefore only true for me and those who see things pretty much the same way I do (and I imagine there has to be more than one version of ‘me’ out there!).
How does that work?
Just for fun, let’s take a closer look at this idea about creativity being an actual ‘life purpose’ and consider whether or not there is anything in it!
Scientists tell us that the universe is expanding and that the expansion slowed down before speeding up again (obviously over a period of billions of years!). So, this physical universe apparently never stands still or remains exactly the same, even for one second. Human life evolved within all of this activity; we are a functioning, working part of the whole, not an add-on.
However, as far as most of us are concerned, planet Earth is our home and it is this that we concern ourselves with (well, at least some of us do), rather than the bigger picture of the solar system within the bigger picture of the universe… but it is all relative. There is a rhyme, ‘big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite them, little fleas have lesser fleas and so ad infinitum’. No matter how tiny the littlest flea is, it is still having an impact upon its host, which in turn is having an impact upon its host. Now, I am not saying that human beings are fleas, and that we are an infestation sucking the life force out of an itchy, irritated, fertile chunk of rock (well, not all of us anyway!) – I am just using this as a lighthearted way of explaining the knock-on effect. No matter how small we are, in comparison to that which is bigger than us, we are a part of it and, one way or another, we play a role in how it evolves and what it becomes, for better or for worse, without even consciously trying. The planet is constantly changing and mankind is playing a huge role in this; the experience of life on Earth is not the same as it was ten or twenty years ago, a hundred years ago… 200,000 years ago. We are creators first and foremost, but it is wisdom that dictates how we learn to use our creations, and what we then allow them to create. We can’t be too hard on ourselves when we realise that we have messed up because of something we previously didn’t know or understand – collectively or individually – but we can and should be ashamed when we consistently fail to learn and respond accordingly.
So, what has any of this got to do with your quest to figure out your life purpose? Everything, I believe! You are creative, and your creations are contributing to the ongoing, forward movement of life on Earth… which has to be the overall point, surely? Whether you believe in a creator or in evolution (and I cannot see much of a difference, to be honest, apart from the name), something wants the energy of physical life to continue, something wants exploration, discovery, forward movement, expansion – and something produced the working parts to help make all of that all possible.
You ARE creative!
“Ha!” you retort, “Well, that can’t be true; I am not the least bit creative. I couldn’t paint or write or sew to save my life!”
Oh, but you are! Right now, at this very second, you are creating a thought, an opinion, a belief, an attitude, and an atmosphere that ripples out and impacts others. It may be the merest hint of a ripple, or it may a tidal wave; just because it can’t be physically seen and touched doesn’t mean that it isn’t occurring. We can’t see the wind itself, but we can definitely see, hear and feel the effects of the wind!
Creativity begins with a single thought…
Creativity always begins with a thought, an idea, a dream, in someone’s mind. It cannot be any other way. And then it can be brought into physical existence through action (which can include non-action!). We are always, always creating something… good, bad or indifferent:
We can create a sense of inertia, apathy, and defeatism.
We can create hope, enthusiasm, and determination.
We can create a cup of tea, a snack, a meal, a banquet.
We can create a friendship, a team, a community.
We can create a relationship, a baby, a family.
We can create a work of art, literature, architecture, engineering, technology.
We can create an argument, a fight, a war.
We can create illness.
We can create a cure.
We can create poverty.
We can create wealth.
We can create peace.
We can create conflict.
We can create individually and/or jointly.
I need you and you need me…
And we are all in it together. No man, or woman, is an island. I will need you to help me express and act out my purpose, and you will need me to help you express and act out yours. I am often told, by clients, that their biggest desire is to ‘help people’… that they believe that this is their purpose in life. Well, in order to fulfill that purpose they obviously need people who are in need… and luckily there are billions of those around (including the ones who are struggling to define their personal purpose in life!).
Whenever I am asked to help someone recognise their life purpose, I know that they are feeling lost or experiencing an emptiness within. Often, these folk are getting on with everyday life, busy and appearing to be doing okay. The problem tends to be that they are doing what is considered to be the ‘right’ thing, tending to their practical needs, focusing on security and not wasting time on daydreams… in other words, living in the ‘real’ world. They may not be desperately unhappy, but often feel that there is something else they ‘should’ be doing. Sometimes they even know what that something is… but are afraid that it isn’t realistic, or that they will fail. A very unhappy young woman recently asked me about her job prospects, connected to an industry she wasn’t remotely interested in, even though she had just graduated in fine arts. I asked why she wasn’t developing a career in the thing she loved doing the most… and she replied that her father, who had never wanted her to study art, had convinced her that there was no money in it. I said, “you have to be joking! Are you aware just how popular up-cycling is at this current moment in time? People are falling over themselves to pay good money for professionally renovated items! Tv is awash with fine artists producing amazing transformations, and internet sites are attracting worldwide audiences. Of course there is competition, but there is also a ton of opportunity!”
Unfortunately, I got the feeling that she is more likely to go along with her father’s wishes than her own, spending her life yearning to express a natural, artistic talent, whilst working in a job she has no interest in. She could, of course, do what some people do and have a ‘day’ job whilst developing her real interests on the side. It isn’t unrealistic or impossible to do so, but in my experience too many talented people lose hope and heart, drifting further and further away from the activity that causes them to feel alive. I understand that time is often tight, but a few hours a week, dedicated to what we consider to be our real calling, is better than no hours ever! And in the bigger picture, those few hours can develop into something more.
We don’t have to save the world!
We often tend to believe that a life purpose should be something grand and heroic, and it is this mis-belief that creates a smokescreen, causing us to dismiss or overlook the things we really want to further explore. We are so busy looking at the wood, we fail to recognise the individual trees. Or we believe that, unless we are going to be the absolute best – THE number 1 – there is no point in trying. I used to think that way, but thankfully I managed to persuade myself otherwise. I love to write, even though I am unlikely to ever make a million pounds doing so… and so I write. I can, at the very least, improve my skills, but I also gain satisfaction from a finished piece, and from the appreciation of the small audience I have attracted over the years! I believe that producing written work is one of the purposes of my life, and even if I am not earning a living doing it, I am still creating, and scratching that emotional itch I have inside. I feel better for writing and would be sad never to do so again.
I believe that another of my life purposes is to question and delve, and to ask why? And another is to continue to explore and develop my relationship with the creative force of life (call it what you will – God, the Universe, the mothership… ). And there are certain practical things I really wish to sort out or achieve before I take my last breath, and this feels like a purpose to me. I don’t feel that my job, as an intuitive consultant, is my big life purpose… but it is an activity that allows me to delve and question, to educate myself on matters of the mind and the spirit, and to pass on the benefit of that to those who wish to accept and use it for themselves. Like everyone else, there are plenty of things I do regularly because I ‘have’ to… but they are merely the price to be paid for the experience of life on planet Earth.
It may be more obvious than you think!
Everything that exists in this world – that has anything to do with human beings – started as an idea in the mind of an individual creator. It’s all become physically possible thanks to the efforts of other creators… from the smallest contribution to the largest. And I mean everything, from destructive gossip to a life-saving cure. We could be happy with the idea that acting upon one of our life purposes is likely to enable someone else to fulfill one of their life purposes… even if we are not directly recognised for our contribution. Or it may be that we really need to feel that our purpose is to glitter and shine… to be seen, acknowledged and praised. It doesn’t matter; if we are genuinely okay with our choices and the direction our life is taking, even if we aren’t moving obvious mountains, that is a good thing… no, a great thing. But if we feel that something is missing, that there is a gap that needs to be filled, we need to start by looking close to home, asking some basic questions of ourselves. There are certain reasons we are all here, and certain reasons that are unique to us… and they may just be staring us in the eyes!