What if the Purpose of Life is Giving Back?
It’s taken me a long time to come to this rather major conclusion. That life is all about giving back. And, truth be told, this world we live in has brought it into sharp focus for me. Like a chilly wind on a sunny day this world has left me feeling just a little disappointed.
The way we live nowadays, with all the instant gratification, it has become all about ‘me’. What can ‘I’ get out of this? We have forgotten about the giving back part. Forgotten the true value in serving others. I think it’s time to take a step back and see where we have gone wrong, and fix it. Let’s get into what I mean by this.
We Were not Made to Stand Alone
At the very basic level, we need each other. For every human need. From clothing to comfort, humans need humans. When we start to convince ourselves that we can be happy just looking out for our own needs, we are missing the point. We are just one part of the greater whole.
We are designed to be a family, a social network. This extends into ALL aspects of our lives. We get married and have children, we form friendships and we build relationships at work. As we go through life, we work together to lift each other and guide each other. We simply could not survive without each other, let alone thrive. Giving back is part of any healthy relationship.
Serving Others Is Serving You
Here is the truth. When you look beyond your own selfish needs and serve those around you, it comes back in so many ways. Most importantly, though, it comes back in the warmth in your heart and the spreading of your energy to those you serve, and to yourself.
I believe we are all connected, but it’s like there’s a chink in the cord. If we release that chink, we allow the connection to flow again. In order to be able to do that, though, we have to identify where that chink is located. Note, I said chink, not break! We are not broken, just misguided.
You cannot lead someone back onto the path if they don’t realize that they have strayed. This is about helping people realize that being here on this earth is about ‘the whole’. We have to understand that we can only be complete by sharing this experience with each other.
Seeing How Giving Back is Part of our Daily Lives
Have a think about the people in your life that contribute to how you live. When you see their contribution you will better be able to understand how giving back is part of our everyday lives. What isn’t part of our everyday lives is being aware of it!
That means we are not aware of the blessing of the service we receive from others every day. From the sandwiches made by mothers every day to the coffee you pick up on the way to work. Consider the efforts of others that make up the life you live.
This world needs to inject a bit of heart into the way we do things if we are going to get our connection and sense of purpose back. That means tuning in to how we all work together to keep the wheel turning. We need to develop an appreciation for this service in others, and following on that, an appreciation for our own service.
Our Parents as Examples
We take so much for granted when we are young. Mainly because we don’t understand a life where there isn’t always someone there looking after us. But, let’s consider the example set by our parents. They provide us with lovingly cooked meals, clothing, a shoulder to cry on and a hundred other things throughout our lives. They are there for us when we need them.
We should take our examples for how we treat others from this example. This attitude of caring about the wellbeing of others. Why should it be reserved for our family members only? If we can see all of humanity as our family, wouldn’t we be more inclined to extend this kind of caring attitude towards them?
What would it take to feel more connected, more ‘of service’? I believe if we look for examples around us, shine a light on the good that others are doing, we will understand the value of giving better. As with anything, it starts with being open. Open to questioning, to change, to connection.
Change the Word Business to Service
One of the greatest shifts needs to happen in business. Personally, I think we need a complete mindset shift. There is so much negative energy around the concept of business. Now, I know there are way too many people out there who are working too many unfulfilled hours, but that is a conversation for another day. What I want to talk about today is the idea of finding purpose in what you are doing with your life.
Instead of just ‘showing up’ for a pay cheque, look at the service you are providing. Think of the families that will benefit from what you are doing. Go all along the supply chain thinking of everyone that is impacted, every life that gets touched by your contribution. The big corporations and long hours have taken away the meaning in our daily work, but we can bring it back.
Let’s go back to basics and look at this in terms of farmers growing the food we eat. We see the value of the labour because it feels more tangible. Days spent in an office can feel much less purposeful because it isn’t as tangible. But, you have a job to do, you are part of the big picture. You are contributing. See the value in your contribution.
See Business as an Opportunity for Change
Business should be seen as a means to contribute and to build relationships. If we saw it this way we would a) care more about our employees and b) everyone would get more out of the working relationship. Work would become a place where you know you are providing a service and you know you are valued. This would literally change the world that we live in.
I believe one of the greatest changes that needs to happen in this world is to change the way we view our work day and work environment. We need to focus on the people and the purpose of the service. Business is more about sales and hours and less about people. If we make this shift there will be millions of people in the world who’s sense of purpose increases, just from their work environment!
And that’s just purpose, there are other benefits including greater self worth and healthier relationships. Like I said, I believe this is a game changer for the work place.
Fulfilling our Life’s Purpose
I believe life is ultimately about service. Ask anyone who believes they are living a life of purpose and they will tell you they have found a way to serve. No one that lives a purposeful life is focused exclusively on themselves. There is something so meaningful about showing up every day to serve. It gives us a reason to keep showing up because we see the results of our contribution.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ by Gandhi. To me this is so powerful. It applies to almost every area of life. From turning the cheek when you are treated badly, to being the one in the crowd that steps forward to help someone pick up their groceries that have fallen, to being that person that sits beside someone’s sick bed and reads to them.
The quote may be focused on more than service but the message of being the change is what we need to hear. Change your mindset towards that of service. Make it part of your understanding of your every day existence. Make it a natural way that you view this life.
A Final Point
I’m going to leave you with a question to ponder: If you were to look back on your life, are you proud of what you have contributed?
This question started this entire blog. It really got me thinking. About my contribution, and my legacy that I will leave to my children. Am I proud? Before I started this blog, it would have been more of an ‘I did my best’ or and ‘I was a good person’. And, I would have thought that was enough. But now I know, I can do more and be more than I ever realized I could. And, yes, I am proud.
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