I love it when two or more of my Purpose Projects come together in a synergistic way. For example, I've had this urging to really develop the content of this blog with as useful and valuable information as possible, which includes writing in depth articles about matters that really…well matter to me — Purpose Project #1
I've also been wanting to get on with my next book, after discovering the rough draft of a manuscript entitled, The Spiral of Fulfillment: Living an Inspired Life of Service, Simplicity and Spiritual Serenity. Purpose Project #2.
So, I've created a new blog category, Spiral of Fulfillment, and at least some of the 'in depth' (as in longer posts) articles will be chapters of this book, starting with the introduction below. Once again I want to thank Steve Pavlina for inspiring me to use blogging in this way — to be able to write in depth pieces about subjects that really matter to me and to share them with the blogosphere.
Imagine for a moment living a completely satisfying and fulfilling life – where your work is a wonderfully rich expression of your purpose and passion; where you have ample time to spend with your family and friends in engaging and worthwhile endeavors, and where you’re deeply involved in your community. In this fulfilled life you fully experience the interconnected relationship of yourself with the rest of the Universe, and you take full responsibility for your role in it.
If you find such a life difficult to imagine, read on as we explore the facets of life that make up the Spiral of Fulfillment. And as you read, know that such a life is not only possible, it is your birthright.
From Project Purpose a Seed was Planted
Several years ago, I created a pet writing project known as Project Purpose:
To write and publish articles about people and institutions whose lives and missions are dedicated to a bold and inspired purpose or vision.
I created this project for two main reasons. First, I wanted to bring more purpose and meaning to my profession as a freelance writer, and second, I wanted to inspire other people to live a more satisfying and fulfilling life for themselves through service to others. It was my hope that people would read one of my Project Purpose Profiles and then say to themselves, “Well, if that person can make a difference in the world, certainly I can do something for others as well.”
Over the next few years, as I interviewed dozens of people living purposeful lives, I began to notice some common elements shared by most of the people I interviewed. These elements resonated deeply with my own soul and my own experience of life. They eventually became the core ingredients of my own life purpose. These core elements are:
• Simplicity, and
• Spiritual Serenity
In other words, the people I interviewed were all clear about their life purpose and were expressing their purpose through service to others. They led lives of "purposeful, passionate and playful service."
But that wasn't all. These ordinary people who were leading extraordinary lives maintained much simpler lives than most, partly because they knew who they were and why they were on the planet. They lived lives of "mindful, abundance balanced with simplicity."
The third common characteristic these people shared was a profound and inspiring spiritual life. Some were quite vocal about their relationship with God, while others were quiet and subdued. Some talked about their relationship with a Higher Power, or the Universe, some referred more to their spiritual nature or spirituality. But it was present in almost every case.
From these observations evolved the Spiral of Fulfillment Model, the essence of which is captured in the saying:
A life on purpose is a life of service, simplicity and spiritual serenity.
I think most people would agree that we are living in turbulent times. Some might even say that our world is going to hell in a hand basket.
One way to view the cause of these turbulent times is to realize that on a cultural and societal level we are out of alignment with the universal flow of life. Let’s face it. We live in an amazingly complex universe – one so complex that we’ll never be able to fully comprehend it or fully appreciate its intricate design. As Einstein once said:
We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.
At the same time, like the child most of us know intuitively that there is a design to the universe in which we live – what I call the universal flow of life. You can think of this universal flow like a current of water going in a particular direction. As long as we flow with the current, life works and works well. We’re “in the zone,” so to speak. But what happens when one current of water going in one direction meets with another current of water going in a different direction? At the point where the two currents meet you will find much turbulence. And what I’m suggesting is that much of our culture is going against the universal flow of life, thus creating our turbulent times.
But the elements of the Spiral of Fulfillment are in complete alignment with the universal flow. In other words, if we want to regain our equilibrium, if we want our lives to work, aligning our lives with the Spiral of Fulfillment will allow us to once again enter the natural flow of the universe.
The great thing about the Spiral of Fulfillment is that it doesn't matter where you start. You may start by one day realizing that your life has become far too busy and complicated and that it’s time to simplify matters. Or perhaps you’ve been realizing that your life is missing direction and meaning. You may know that you’re meant to be of service but aren’t sure how or where. Or, you may have been feeling like there’s something missing from your life; that you’re more than just a body and mind, but that you’ve been operating as only a 2-dimensional figure. If so, you may start on the Spiral of Fulfillment by adding a new dimension of spirituality to your life.
Wherever you begin on the Spiral of Fulfillment, if you stay involved you will no doubt find the other aspects of the Spiral slipping naturally into your life as well. Here’s a brief overview of some of the starting points where you may begin to align your life with the universal flow which will ultimately lead to a life on purpose.
Service has gotten a bad rap lately, or has been confused with such terms as "customer service" or "service with a smile." But what does a "purposeful, passionate and playful life of service" mean? It means quite simply that you'll be more satisfied and fulfilled in your life when you express your true life purpose in service of others. Think of it this way, your true, Divinely Inspired Life Purpose is who you are as a spiritual being and what you came here to planet Earth to be and to experience. And since we are all here as spiritual beings to have a physical experience, we’re also here to express our purpose in service to others.
Now, hold on. . . there's another part. This doesn't mean at your own expense. It’s important for you to take care of yourself at the same time, so you will have plenty of energy to serve others – not just plenty of physical energy but also mental, emotional and spiritual energy. And the first step to taking care of yourself is to take the time to clarify what you're most passionate about which is closely associated with your life purpose. In fact, when you bring clarity of purpose to your life, you are then able to tap into a wellspring of passion and enthusiasm that can fuel your efforts to express and fulfill on your purpose. All of this is augmented when you add a healthy dose of purposeful play into the mix. With purposeful play, you bring a childlike innocence and sense of awe and wonder to your daily life. There’s a sense of freedom and a willingness to flow with what’s flowing as you’re open to exploring and experimenting with life.
There's a growing, quiet movement underfoot to simplify our lives. Many of us have realized the Great American Dream of owning a huge house, with two late-model cars in the garage, expensive vacations and all the trimmings of a "keeping-up-with-the-Jones" lifestyle has one fatal flaw — such a lifestyle doesn't guarantee our happiness. As modern-day spiritual sage, Bo Lozoff, cofounder of the Human Kindness Foundation points out in his book, Deep and Simple:
“It’s time we notice that the Joneses are not happy. One of their kids is on drugs, the parents are in divorce court, Mr. Jones is $50,000 in debt, and Mrs. Jones is taking anti-depressant medication.”
But we have to be careful about the notion of simplicity. Many of us have also misinterpreted it to mean frugality, depravity or even poverty. It's not that either, which is why we're introducing the distinction of "mindful abundance balanced with simplicity." A simple approach to life that starts with being mindful, as in thoughtful, awake and aware. Taking the time to reflect upon what's most important in life and to do so from a mentality of abundance and gratitude rather than from a consciousness of lack. When you start living a life of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity, you start to realize that such a life can look quite different for different people. As Vicki Robin, co-author of Your Money or Your Life once said, "Simple living isn't a cookie cutter lifestyle."
I was raised in the Bible-belt of the South where I was taught that there are two subjects that you are safer not talking about in public: politics and religion. But it's time we all broke our silence and for many of us "closet spirits" to come out and express ourselves and our faith in a Higher Power. Embracing a sense of the Great Mystery of the Universe through an authentic spiritual inquiry will add a whole new dimension to your life. What form that takes is completely up to the individual. After all, that's one of the basic freedoms upon which the United States of America was built. It's time we got back to it. And for now, that's all this Southern gentleman has to say on the subject. But read on for more.
I've been told that there's a principle in physics known as “elegance” that says that the universe operates in the simplest manner possible. Thus, water takes the path of least resistance (a notion that a lot of us could learn from), an object is pulled by gravity in a straight line unless another object or force comes into play, and so forth. When you combine the distinctions of service and simplicity in the Spiral of Fulfillment, what arises is the possibility of living an elegant life. To quote Einstein again, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Each morning as I prepare myself for the day, I recite a “purposeful prayer” that helps me get in touch with my life purpose so it will be my purpose that shapes my day. A part of this litany points to the idea of elegance. It goes like this:
"I rest in the assurance of knowing that as I continue to live true to my life purpose, the entire Universe provides amply, abundantly and in perfect timing all the resources necessary for the ongoing expression and fulfillment of this purpose. My job, first and foremost, is to live true to my life purpose."
That's elegance in a nutshell.
When you meld simplicity and spiritual serenity together you get peace-of-mind, something that is usually absent if either one of these key ingredients is missing. This might explain the incredibly high suicide rate in this country and the fact that Valium is one of the most widely purchased drugs year after year. Want more peace-of-mind in your life? Try this simple recipe: Add one cup of simplicity with two cups of spiritual serenity. Fold gently together while breathing deeply. Add a pinch of gratitude to taste. Let set for several minutes. While it's congealing, go take a quiet soak in a hot tub of water surrounded by candles. Ahhh. Peace-of-Mind.
All I've ever wanted to do in life is make a difference with other people. In my view it's what we all most want from life — to contribute to others. When you know your purpose you know how to contribute; you know your unique gift of being – your soul’s purpose – to offer to others. Through an authentic spiritual exploration you realize that we are all connected to each other and to the whole of the Universe. When these two ideas are combined, the possibility of us all contributing to each other is the natural outcome.
A Life On Purpose
At the center of the Spiral for Fulfillment, where all these basic ingredients are blended together is where a life on purpose lives. As you read this book, I invite you to savor each chapter. Imagine each one is like a fresh slice of orange or a juicy, sun-ripened strawberry. As you read, roll the ideas and insights. Ponder these notions between your readings. Take your time, but take action on the ideas that make the most sense. If you do, I believe you will find that it is possible to live a satisfying and fulfilling live – a life on purpose – no matter how turbulent the rest of the world may be. And given enough time, I have faith we can all create a world on purpose in this way.
Beginning the Journey
It is my deepest desires that the following selection of essays will assist you in traveling along the Spiral of Fulfillment and that with each turn along the Spiral, your life will take on a deeper sense of purpose as you discover new ways to be of service, while also simplifying your life, and bringing a profound sense of serenity as you reconnect with your true Self.
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