Lately, I’ve been giving much thought to the question: What makes life purposeful? As a yoga teacher, I don’t spend my days with co-workers– I’m usually the only yoga teacher in the studio. This means that I interact with students who have diverse professions, callings, and passions which bring meaning to their life. I’m in awe of students who work in hospitals (I won’t even set foot in one!) healing and caring for others. I also love talking to students who are passionate entrepreneurs in the start-up world (Westport Yoga just started a partnership with the Kansas City Start Up Village… check them out here!)
I also hear from students who are unfulfilled in their careers and are looking for something to add meaning and purpose to their lives. They generally feel ‘stuck’ and are hoping that a big move or career change will be the key, but are afraid of making a big decision. (If this is you, you will definitely want to read my New Year’s Resolution article “lean forward, get upside down, set a resolution“.)
I think there’s a compromise that needs to be seriously considered: a purposeful life is an accumulation of the ‘small decisions’ AND the ‘big decisions’ made daily which lead you toward or away from contentment. Living a purposeful life doesn’t necessarily mean your profession is your passion and it doesn’t mean you are enacting change on a global level. Sometimes it can mean that you have diligently pursued small decisions that lead to happiness.
This article written by David Brooks of the New York Times distilled a similar theme from hundreds of essays submitted answering the question: ‘What gives you purpose in life?’ The theme was this: Pursuing a small, happy life brought more meaning and purpose to individuals than grandiose ‘globe changing’ campaigns. Across the board, making daily decisions to increase contentment, encourage peace within households and value family brought purpose and meaning to lives.
What small, happy decisions can you pursue today? I’d love to hear your answers! I hope the list is long (and that it includes a minute of yoga!)