Have ‘purpose’ and be happy and vice versa!

Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, another famous Italian said; “Do not act as if you were going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over you. While you live, while it is in your power, be good.” Now as someone who nine years ago was told he had stage 4 cancer and just months to live, I more than most, appreciate Aurelius’ words.

Even if we live into our 80s or 90s, life is short. And with death hanging over us, surely we should be motivated to try to live a happy existence. Would you believe, that one of the five biggest regrets of the dying – according to a survey conducted by caregivers in Nova Scotia* – was that people wished they’d been happier. They didn’t realise until death was upon them, that happiness is a choice.

In today’s world, which is riddled with problems, injustices, inequity, violence, oppression and a litany of other problems, people often feel that if they can’t identify a lofty or noble ‘purpose’ then they simply don’t have one. To those I mentor and talk to, I always ask this question;

‘What if the purpose of your life is simply to choose to be happy?’

Happy people contribute to society in many wondrous ways. A happy person is more empathetic. Kinder. More loving. More productive. They live courageously. They recognise the need for work/life balance. Happy people are more generous and more inclined to assist their family, friends and community. They donate money and/or their time more willingly in support of worthy causes. They speak and behave in an uplifting, inspiring manner. Are you starting to see my point?

I realised from an early age that I have a purpose, and when I survived cancer, as I knew I would, it confirmed for me exactly what I had to do. Thankfully, most people won’t have to develop cancer to determine their life’s purpose and as I hope you’re now understanding, you don’t need adversity to determine what your purpose is. You can decide for yourself – right now. It may be a lofty purpose, it may be a more humble path, but my friends, it should start with a resolution to being happy.

You know what else the dying regret?

  • I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  • I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  • I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends

The sad irony to all of these regrets is that they are alleviated, if not banished, through the conscious choice of being happy. That is, in and of itself, a truly noble purpose, because as I said earlier, it not only greatly improves your life, it improves the lives of many people around you and possibly many others you may never personally know.

Happiness has a ripple effect. It permeates people and circumstances. It brings light to darkness and encourages us to be the best expression of self we can. I often tell people that if you do not control your circumstances, then they will control you. If you have purpose, and that purpose is to be happy and through your happiness, be as positively influential as you can be, then you will remain unburdened by whatever life throws at you. You will inspire and uplift others. That is living with purpose in the truest sense.

Marcus Aurelius said; “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but by your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

So do not allow others or circumstances to rob you of your happiness. Commit to living a happy life and you will not become distressed by circumstances. Make that your purpose if you don’t yet have another and even if you do, make the resolution to turbocharge your purpose by choosing to live a happier life.

If you would like to contact me to discuss how you can make happiness your purpose and vice versa, please do so. Details are on the website.
The 5 regrets of the dying may be viewed at www.CaregiversNS.org