Optimism is an attitude of mind more necessary today than ever. So much of life is driven at a break-neck speed, with countless interruptions and distractions – pointless and mindless directives, fearful attitudes, incessant background noise. A fixation with celebrity and an intolerance to mistakes with seemingly no room for redemption. All of this raises its head in the public life of our nation as well as in the demands of local life. And yet… there are reasons to be optimistic.
Time and time again – especially in my many and varied encounters with people of all generations, there is a serious intention to live a qualitative life rather than one which is merely materialistic or successful.
Public institutions are finding it more and more difficult to attract high quality short lists for roles of responsibility – which invariably have very generous financial inducements. Workers are more inclined to choose a qualitative lifestyle over and above the previously assumed inevitable climb up the hierarchical ladder.
So rather than settling for the interminable cycle of back slapping and greasing significant palms – men and women are choosing and beginning to look for ways of living which resonate with a qualitative outcome. This is good – it is really good.
The island of Okinawa in Japan is a quite amazing place. The people on this island live long, happy lives. Yes they do have the fantastic Japanese diet, they drink green tea, they tend their vegetable gardens – and they have a carefully nurtured ‘purpose’ for life. They keep themselves busy, they don’t retire, but they keep active with their ‘purpose’ very much to the forefront. This ‘purpose’ is not something which is ‘created’ but rather it is ‘discovered’ – and then they live it in simple, every day actions. They do this without obsessing about it – just doing it with a smile never far away.
Their busyness is not the fearful fretting of wordy action plans ; it isn’t located in the worthy formation of ‘maps’ but rather with a crafted attention to the ‘compass’ – the direction of life. In other words their ‘purpose’, their ‘why’.
As we move into gear in 2018, we will be soon entering the 40 days of Lent, a great time to ‘discover’ my ‘purpose’ – what is it which gets me up each morning – what is it which causes me to be grateful, to lift my head and smile. Simply asking ourselves the straightforward question each day – ‘what is my principal job on this planet with a capital J?’ and then waiting for the answer to emerge, might just have an utterly transforming impact on our everyday life. We only have the one life – the quality of that life, no matter what age we may be – is really very important!
Living with ‘purpose’ doesn’t have to be earnest, guilt-ridden or fearful – a ‘purpose’ which is truly ours will overflow with an abundance of kindness, laughter and what we sometimes call ‘grace’. An authentic purpose will prompt us into actions which we then just do, day by day. So let’s choose to be purposeful – and really find a quality of living which blesses us right to the centre of who we are.