On my last birthday a close friend gave me an extraordinary present. She sent me a message with a list of various courses, workshops and classes and said “Choose one, it will be a part of my birthday gift for you.”
“What a great idea!” I thought, and started looking through descriptions of dance and yoga workshops, cooking or self-defense classes, Turkish ebru painting or soutache jewelry workshops, personal development and coaching sessions. As much as I was tempted by the creativity-related events, my attention was really drawn to a 90-minute coaching session entitled “Invitation to Travel Inside for Inspiration.”
Well, I thought, I know quite a lot about myself, my personality type, my desires and needs (how could I not working at Happiness International), my strengths and weaknesses but I’m still sometimes struggling with the very essential questions about purpose.
Aren’t we all asking ourselves sometimes, “What is my purpose?” or “How can I make my life more meaningful?”
I know I do.
I chose the coaching session for my birthday present because I wanted to see myself from a different perspective. I wanted the coach to act as a mirror in which I could see myself with a fresh eye.
As with all coaching, there were no answers given but there were many questions asked. The coach was asking questions aimed at identifying my values, what’s important to me, my strengths and weaknesses, my achievements, etc. The whole session was a wonderful journey but one simple method resonated with me especially.
Somewhere after an hour of various challenging questions, the coach asked me to imagine that I have an opportunity to live more than once. “Imagine,” she said, “there are no limitations, neither time, nor money. Even the sky is no limit.”
What would my alternate lives be like? Who would I like to be? What would I be doing? And most importantly, why?
As our time was limited I managed to just sketch scenarios for four alternate lives. The coach said that usually the first 2-3 ones are really easy as most of us have some unfulfilled dreams, some visions of ourselves which we were not able to turn into reality for a variety of reasons. These can be our childhood dreams, like:
- Being a doctor and saving lives in some remote and undeveloped countries
- Becoming a worldwide acclaimed scientist with outstanding discoveries
- Traveling the world to immerse in different cultures
You get the idea.
The coach said that you should try to come up with 7 to 9 lives. The truth is, the further and deeper you go into these imaginary scenarios of your life, the more you learn about your longings, things you’ve been ignoring and pretending never existed.
That’s the point. These alternative lives can represent the opportunities or ambitions you never had enough courage to pursue. This exercise makes you go into the dark, dust, and spider web covered rooms of your mind.
Making the effort, allowing yourself to touch on these sensitive spots, can provide you with insights and opportunities to unveil the parts of your being which you have been denying and which – once rediscovered and reintroduced into your life – can make it more complete.
Maybe you find that expressing yourself in writing has always been your thing. The people you shared your writing with were saying you had a talent, but you have never had enough self-confidence to even try it for real. You were thinking there were so many starving writers-to-be and you didn’t want to be one of them. You decided to be smarter and choose wiser. So you joined the legions of lawyers, doctors, bankers, teachers, or other respectable professions. You chose the safe path and you might even be very successful.
But, be honest with yourself. Aren’t you sometimes catching yourself longing for that feeling of utter fulfillment and perfect flow when you were engaging your vivid imagination to plot narratives and build characters?
Think about it. You don’t have to give up everything you’ve achieved so far but what you can do is to make the denied and ignored part of you welcomed. Make space for it, let it into your life again.
Whatever that thing is, learning new skills allowing you to volunteer and be helpful in making the world a better place, offering your expertise for free and becoming a mentor to younger generation fulfilling at the same time your lifelong desire to become a teacher, writing some new pieces or reworking some old ideas and finding the guts to share it with a wider audience, or maybe doodling and playing with colors like you used to in the old days when you were losing track of time in your doodling state of flow.
This whole search for purpose or long forgotten desires is not an easy process. It might be easier to go through it with a facilitator but you can also do it on your own. You just need to be open, inquisitive, courageous, and full of love for yourself.
The “alternative lives” method is just one of many techniques you may use in order to discover the meaning and purpose in your life.
Other methods which I know and can sincerely recommend are:
- How To Find Your Deepest Desires In Your Favorite Movies
- How To Discover Your Life Purpose In About 20 Minutes
Choose a method which resonates with you best or try a number of different ones. It doesn’t matter which approach you take, the most important thing is that you are working on the discovery. This will be like turning on the lights, this process will bring the Aha! moments that have a potential to change or improve your life.
Don’t you owe yourself to live life to its fullest?