Have you ever just sat at the edge of your plush bed with your head in your hands and just simply asked yourself, “ What am I doing with myself?”. Charley Johnson, president of the Pay It Forward Foundation, found himself sitting there realising he wasn’t happy. He had everything he wanted, but still found himself in need of change. That change came in the way of the “Pay It Forward Foundation” where he simply got people to do good deeds more often to others, but not just in his office or neighbourhood, he got people in 132 countries across the globe to do it! Rather than passively sit by wait to discover his purpose in life he created his own. In my travels across the globe I have come across two general behaviours on this issue. There are often people who ask what their purpose in life is, while others go out and create their own purpose for themselves in their life based on their thoughts and interests. Having a sense of purpose is a very important to leading a healthy and fulfilling life.
Many of us have our own ways of feeling purposeful through who we associate with and what groups we title ourselves as being a part of. Some find purpose in being a parent, a spouse, part of a particular religious group or political party. This purpose also helps fulfil many of our needs to fit in to a certain group or to align ourselves with individuals of the same mindset. While this helps people navigate through life and feel like they have a purpose, it also stifles the possibilities of learning acceptance of others by being around others with varying opinions that may not reflect your own. For many people, when a debate arises over hot topics such as religion and politics it is very difficult for them to walk away from the conversation feeling that although the opinions of their opponent are different that they still deserve the same respect and equality as a human being to live in harmony in our one world. So, at times, gaining purpose through titles in society can hinder the overall big picture of your greater purpose in life. People get stuck on the small picture, while the overall prize is the big picture of life.
Are you the type of person that wakes up each and every day to go work a job that pays you enough money to keep you minimally happy, yet the owner of the company profits above and beyond? Are you contributing to someone else purpose while sacrificing your own? The saying; “If you aren’t working towards your dream, then you are working towards someone else’s dream.” holds a lot of truth in it. Is your purpose truly to live your life in the shadows of others, or are you crawling inside your own body just ready to burst out and take the world by storm? There are jobs that tend to yield a higher sense of purpose in those that work them and there seems to be an overall common underlying factor. Military soldiers in battle, police and firefighters in the heat of their line of work, emergency room workers in the high stress positions of the ER room, and motivated teachers of all grade levels giving their best attempt to inspire the next generation of leaders are all part of these purpose driven careers. Obviously this list is not conclusive, but can you see what the underlying factor is in these jobs? These are all jobs that when you are living in the moment where you are fully engaged in your job, you have a purpose beyond yourself. At that moment little else matters other than helping others by living in the moment and seeing that moments full potential. Regardless of what your job is, many of us may have those moments when someone tells us “thank you” and for that split second you feel good because your purpose was found in helping others.That short “thank you” brings you into that present moment. It stops everything else you are doing and you realise that your efforts are being appreciated and you feel a moment of purpose.
Obviously amongst the billions of people in the world we are not all capable of working such jobs that may create these moments in the present that give us purpose, but just as Charley Johnson created his purpose, why can’t we all create our own purpose in life? Charley started with the simple idea of paying for a stranger’s coffee and giving them a bracelet that read “pay it forward” as a reminder to do random acts of kindness to the next stranger. As his movement grew, he was contacted by a dance instructor in Croatia to find out how she could become involved. A principal in Canada was inspired and reached out to Charley on how to get make his town the “kindest city” in Canada. His idea continued to snowball, and after 2,400,000 bracelets being distributed in 132 countries he continues to grow his idea. I can only imagine that Charley didn’t initially pay for a strangers coffee knowing that he would travel the globe pursuing his purpose. The idea is to simply create your purpose no matter what it is, and see it through to fruition. We can’t always know the garden we will have in the future from the seeds we plant today, but plant them anyway. In todays tech savvy world anything can become viral and an overnight success story. If you have the ability to create something to help others then by all means do it. I volunteered in a charity in 2008 and shortly after created my own Volunteaching Charity for others to be able to volunteer. I have taught English and Humanities courses so I have created Ebooks to pass that knowledge on to others as well as showcased my international photography from around the world for others to see at http://www.facebook.com/dustinwatchman. Anything that you are doing in your life that you believe somebody else could benefit from should be passed on to those that may benefit from it. “Pay it forward” as Charley would say. Every single person can add value to someone else life by simply doing a kind deed for others from time to time. Strangers and friends alike can all benefit from good deeds and if only for that split second they will be living in the present. No worries of the future or regrets of the past, simply living with a purpose for that present moment can be our goal.