October 20, 2010

Life's Like That

There is so much in life that is beyond our control. As it’s often said, "If you want to make God laugh, make plans." You can think your life's headed in one direction, you've finally got things figured out, and then suddenly everything changes. Perhaps it’s a sudden job loss, the death of a loved one, or an illness. These times are so very trying, but they can also offer an opportunity to re-examine what’s truly important in life.

July 7, 2010

Finding Your Mission in Life

Much could be said about Richard Bolle’s seminal bestseller What Color Is Your Parachute? I picked up a copy a few years ago, having seen the book at my university’s career centre library and hearing glowing recommendations about it.

Unlike a lot of books in the career and self-help genre, Parachute has a soul. Bolles—a former Episcopal clergyman—speaks from the perspective of one with faith and doesn’t hide this from the reader. So when he discusses finding your life’s work, it is framed in a spiritual context: finding the work you were made, by God, to do.

There is a plethora of job-finding tips in this book, but I want to focus on the chapter about finding your mission in life. This chapter reads like an essay—or perhaps a sermon—on finding one’s vocation and frames this issue in a new light.

Rather than thinking of your mission as one thing you are called to do, Bolles suggests that each person’s mission has three parts. Summarized, these are:

1) To know God, the One who gives you your mission.

2) To do what you can each day to make the world a better place, following God’s spirit within you and around you.

3) a) To use the talent that you came to Earth to use—your greatest gift, that gives you joy to use

b) in the place(s) or settings that God has caused to appeal to you the most,

c) and for what God most needs to have done in the world.

The first two aspects of one’s mission are shared by all human beings, while the third is unique to each individual. Bolles notes that “We were all sent here to bring more gratitude, more kindness, more forgiveness, and more love into the world.” Humans share this mission because the task is too large to be accomplished by just one person.

This interpretation of one’s mission in life makes sense to me. How can you know your purpose before you know the one who gave you that purpose? It is also comforting to think that one’ s mission is a continual life process, rather than something you just “know” and I somehow missed that gene.

What the third aspect seems to come down to is having the courage to follow your heart, knowing God will lead you each step of the way. And being perceptive to your own interests: What activities bring you joy and make you lose all sense of time?

Ultimately, what we are called to do in this world is an intersection between the work we want to do and the work the world most needs to have done.

June 30, 2010

The Last Lecture

In reading The Last Lecture, I was immediately struck by author Randy Pausch’s positivity as well as his strength and determination in the face of his terminal diagnosis.

A reoccurring theme in this book about making your childhood dreams come true is overcoming obstacles along your path. Pausch notes, “Brick walls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” His advice rings true because he lived it.

Knowing his own time left on this earth was limited by his illness, he advises the reader that time must be explicitly managed, just like one manages money. It’s important to ask yourself: Am I spending my time on the right things?

Considering today’s economy and the challenges countless people are facing in finding employment in their chosen fields, Pausch’s observation that “experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted” is particularly poignant. Though difficult, every obstacle we face can be an opportunity to learn and grow and has the potential to lead us to something even better than we could have planned for ourselves.

Having a positive attitude along the way will also help. As Pausch writes, “Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore?” Being a “Tigger” – choosing optimism and maintaining an enthusiasm and curiosity for life – will give you a sense of joy and wonder.

Let’s face it: it’s not easy to stay positive when it seems everything is going wrong. But being receptive to the good things around you (and even the Awesome Things), counting your blessings, and being grateful for what you have instead of focusing on what you don’t have, will ultimately bring more joy to your life.

To view the inspiring “Last Lecture” Pausch gave at Carnegie Mellon University (where he was a professor of computer science), which is the basis for the book, you can visit this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo.

[Photo from here]

June 16, 2010

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog! Soulicitious is going to be a place where I present my thoughts on finding meaning, direction, and purpose in one’s life on Earth. I’m writing from the perspective of a Christian (specifically, Catholic). But, no matter what faith one has, we likely all ask similar questions about our own lives, especially when we’re younger, still figuring things out.

I’m a twenty-something who’s been doing a lot of thinking lately about what direction I’d like my life to take. Since I’ve been reading so much about careers, happiness, and success, I thought it might be useful to provide mini-reviews or summaries of what I’m reading and generally talk about people, events, words, and really anything, that inspire me and may inspire you too.