By Mark E. Smith
Think about the most genuinely happy, joyful person you know. I have no way of knowing that person, but I certainly can tell you all about him or her. His or her smile lights up a room. He or she is totally comfortable in his or her own skin. He or she doesn’t worry about trivial aspects in life. He or she is one of great comfort to others in an especially unique way. And, he or she is slowly but surely changing the world for the better. Who is this individual?
The answer is, it’s a person living to his or her purpose. See, when we live with purpose, it’s impossible not to be happy and successful. After all, in living with purpose, you know the value of your life, the positive ways you impact others – directly or indirectly – and how you change their lives for the better. Most importantly, you recognize the value of others, and strive to meet their needs with your unique abilities.
For some, their purpose seems obvious. A police officer protects citizens. A comedian makes people laugh. An emergency room nurse saves lives. However, for the rest of us, finding or recognizing our purpose can be less obvious.
I recently had this talk with my 18-year-old daughter: how do we know our purpose? An even more challenging question is – and it’s one of the toughest in humanity, an age-old inner-struggle – do I even have a purpose?
As one who feels tremendous purpose in my life, I thought a lot about what core questions does my daughter – or any of us! – need to find and understand our purpose?
And, so I gave my daughter some questions to ask of herself:
Who am I?
What am I passionate about?
How do I effect other people?
What do others need from me?
How can my everyday actions better other’s lives?
For me, the answer is easy. I have cerebral palsy and in understanding the liberation of mobility and independence, my purpose is in helping others achieve those vital aspects in their own lives. As a result, at the end of each day, I feel the privilege of having a tangible sense of purpose in my life.
Based in New York, Rick Guidotti is among the top fashion photographers in the world. In the 1990s, he photographed those who were deemed the most beautiful women on Earth. Then, in 1998, at a bus stop, he encountered a teenage girl with albinism. In a world that can see such conditions as strange, Rick saw beauty, and as he embarked from there to taking photos of those who weren’t known as conventionally beautiful like the models he shot for Vogue and such, he found a turning point in his life: his purpose. See, through Rick’s photos, he not only raises the esteem of his photographed subjects – many seeing their own beauty for the first time, the camera serving as the ultimate mirror of truth – but his photos have also captured the attention of the top magazines and galleries, dramatically improving society’s perception of not just those with disabilities, but also the truth that we’re all beautiful.
Rick knows who he is, what he’s passionate about, what others need from him, and how his actions change their lives. He’s a man living with purpose.
I don’t know where you are in your life, but I l know that you, too, have great purpose. Maybe you know your purpose and know the joy that comes with it. Or, maybe you’re trying to discover your purpose. Think about who you are, what you’re passionate about, what others need from you, and how your actions can change their lives. And, live it with everything you have.