Throughout my life, I think I have always tried to define 'my why'. What is the reason that I exist… the whole purpose of my life that excites me and matters? Or better yet, what is it about our human existence that resonates with me so deeply, that it stirs an emotional response and makes me feel alive? Hasn't everyone been trying to answer this existential question of 'why do we exist' for thousands of years?
For my answer, I could say that I am here to be a great life partner and wife to my husband to better our lives together. And that is definitely part of it. I could say that it's because if I'm the most compassionate friend, or sister, or daughter, or aunt, or teammate, then I feel a sense of fulfillment that I stayed true to my intention. And that is also part of it. I could say it's because I am really good at what I do and I am uniquely me… and no one else in the world has what I have to offer, whatever it turns out to be.
And while all of those angles of looking at 'my why' are true, I think there is one more. And it's a big one… I mean, really big… The kind of 'why' that seems completely out of reach and unrealistic, if you're being logical.
"Is it logical?"
Sometimes we have to throw logic out the window. Did anyone say it was logical that in this era of technology and speed, a vaccine was developed in record time so that we could all start being physically together, working and socializing, and hugging again (yes, I secretly like hugs)? The experts who worked on that could not believe the logic. Did anyone say it was logical that we would have access to information, education, and connection to other cultures across the globe at our fingertips? The people with the ideas that brought these things to life, didn't give in to conventional thinking. Did anyone ever say it's logical that a piece of art, whether it be music or paintings or performances, is able to create an emotional experience so powerful that it expands our perspective of life? The artists who dedicate their lives to this, defy logic. When you think about it, things like that aren't very logical.
Even though I don't directly save lives or invent things or inspire the world through art, I'm still trying to see the direct line I have to make a positive impact in the world. And just like them, 'my why' is more than being about me. It goes beyond the benefits I get.
"So, What is it?"
So, here is what I think it is: The small chance that I could have a positive influence, or would be able to educate, or somehow improve someone else's experience in this life and then they somehow improve someone else's, perpetuates something good. If I'm able to provoke thought in a new way, show compassion in every situation, help others be more courageous to be their authentic selves in their own lives, then who they come into contact with may do the same thing. Collectively, the world becomes just a little bit better for everyone.
Now, I'm not saying this world is a terrible place… in fact, I am continually in awe of it's beauty. The feeling I have when I'm able to be my authentic self, to speak completely honestly, to overcome hardships of this life, to be heard and understood and loved by another person, is the most incredible feeling. I want everyone to have a chance in their life to have that.
"What keeps me from being good at it?"
My 'why' may sound simple or even naïve… but if it were easy to do, wouldn't everyone? To truly embrace my 'why', I have to get out of my own way first. Meaning, sometimes I get too focused on my own stuff… what I have to get done every day, how fast I can take care of things, how much I can accomplish, how much I care what other people think of me, how anxious it makes me when I feel overwhelmed, how many mistakes I make, how frustrated I get when stuff doesn't come easy, how fearful I am to say what needs to be said. But I know that If I'm able to raise my gaze above all my stuff and question whether those things have an affect on 'my why', then one of two things happens. I'm able to release them or I'm able to deal with them courageously and compassionately.
"Is the 'why' the only thing that matters?"
I truly believe there must be balance in everything. The flip side is that I might get lost in the ‘why‘ and forget about the ‘what’ and the ’how’. My focus on my 'why' gets blurry if I throw caution to the wind, or don't practice self-care, or I'm unable to set healthy boundaries. What I do and how I do it, matters… the what and the how could even make the 'why' stronger. Bear with me, but it’s like when I’m cooking a delicious meal… I start with a good recipe and then I get high quality ingredients and then I perfect the method of cooking it. All of the effort that is put into the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ pays off when my tastebuds light up. The better I get at the nuances of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, the more powerful the ‘why’ becomes.
"Why do I care about my why?"
Although it's nice to receive accolades for the good faith effort I put forth, that can't be the sole reason my soul feels gratified. If what I did, and the way that I did it, depended on approval from everyone else, I would be perpetually disappointed. I must recognize that I need to live out my 'why' for myself because I feel it so deeply. And if the benefit of my efforts raises the collective good in this world, then I'm in harmony with my intention.
But why does it all this really matter? Why ask these questions? Why do I want to feel a strong connection to what I feel my purpose is? A better question is: how could the way I live my life, treat other people, and continue to enjoy this human experience not matter? I'm determined to spend my life trying to make it matter.