David Brooks wrote in his New York Times Op-Ed piece, What is Your Purpose?,
We have many shows where people argue about fiscal policy but not so many on how to find a vocation or how to measure the worth of your life…we are less articulate about the inner life. There are fewer places in public where people are talking about the things that matter most. As a result, many feel lost or overwhelmed. They feel a hunger to live meaningfully…
So he asked readers to send him their answers to the following questions: Do you think you have found the purpose to your life, professional or otherwise? If so, how did you find it? Was there a person, experience or book or sermon that decisively helped you get there?
A few weeks later Brooks wrote a follow up piece, The Small, Happy Life, where he shares a common theme among the essays he received – a number of people found their purpose by pursuing the small, happy life. This was not what Brooks expected to read, but was pleasantly surprised enough to share some of the excerpts from the responses.
It was quite lovely to read this piece, because in this day and age of social media, it often seems as though everyone feels the need to show their grand life. If it isn’t documented and shared on Facebook or Instagram, did it really happen – or have a purpose for that matter?
The truth is that the real living – the real purpose – is in the work that we do with ourselves that can never be documented or shared via an image. It is the work that we do with our inner self. The work that we do to have a healthy mind and spirit. The work we do to shift a mindset or old engrained habits.
Does the grand, larger-than-life, life have purpose if it is empty and shallow? Would we rather have a million “followers” or a handful of loyal, close friendships? I don’t claim to have the answers or be all knowing, but Brooks piece struck a cord in me. It is not about chasing an idea of what your purpose should be, but being honest with yourself about what you want your purpose to be and living that in a true and honest manner. So living your small, happy life. Living your Chapter Be.
Image via Josh Felise