“Left to ourselves, we can no more find out the purpose of life than a man can pull himself up by his own shoe laces. What we need is for the meaning to be revealed to us from the outside” (Melvin Tinker, What Do You Expect?)

Bernard Levin, infamous journalist who poked fun at British politicians and other public issues, once asked questions that you may also have asked: “To put it bluntly, have I time to discover why I was born before I die? I have not yet managed to answer that question and, however many years I have before me, they are certainly not as many as there are behind. There is an obvious danger of leaving it too late. Why do I have to know why I was born? Because I am unable to believe it was an accident and, if it wasn’t one, it must have meaning”. Finding your life’s purpose, or ‘purposes’ as I prefer to view life, seems to be an incredibly complex journey for many, if not all, human beings. The nagging question “Why am I here?” forms the backdrop to the many choices that we have to make during our living years – choices that are frequently tough to make. Without going into philosophy, secular humanism or spiritual discussions regarding the origin and meaning of life, as this would require volumes of material to address the subject fully, viewing life as potential contribution establishes sensibility and meaning for daily activities.

A person’s hope of finding whether life has any meaning or not is dependent upon their worldview – how a person views the world. If you wear a pair of green-tinted sunglasses, everything you see will be affected by the colour ‘green’ and similarly, any other colour will affect what you see in the same way. You worldview is what you “put on” (that is, assume to be true and factual) before you look at anything else, whether it be your role in the natural world or your place in it, life as a whole, death or otherwise. Your worldview is the position you take before you take a position on anything else. This specifically affects the question as to whether life has any meaning or purpose for you. So, if your worldview is that you are not mistake, you exist for a purpose (at home or at work) and thus have a contribution to make, meaning in life can be derived from that presupposition. The understanding of that meaning typically is derived from the outside – from God, from colleagues, from friends and from family members – in the following ways:

  1. A recognition of your giftedness – as your use your giftedness for good, others typically recognise your skill and facilitate greater opportunities for you to do more of the same. As you repeatedly practise your skill, your giftedness develops, giving you the opportunity to be more strategic in the use of this gift.
  2. An affirmation of your passion – passion equates to the drive and energy that you put into an activity, a cause or what you feel strongly about. Meaning and/or purpose comes from seeing positive changes as a result of your contribution.
  3. Alignment with your focus – when others perceive your strategic intent and align their efforts to assist you to achieve. They get behind your cause and apply their own energy and gifts to give momentum to the effort.
  4. Confirmation of the results – others celebrate with you regarding the results that have been achieved. Acknowledgement and praise is offered to recognise your achievements.

“Living your life as a contributor” is perhaps a selfless approach to life, but more than that, it provides one with answers to the timeless questions that are often asked about the meaning and purpose of life. The approach certainly gives one the opportunity of making a real difference in the lives of others.

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