Sometimes if you’re lucky, life takes you in the direction of your calling – the place you call home, when you are engaged and empowered by a sense of purpose greater than yourself. More often, however, you can lose your way with endless detours. Some of those detours can be meaningful; some may be distractions.
If you’re fortunate, the circumstances of your life may seem perfect and sufficient to make you happy. But sometimes having a good marriage, well-behaved kids, a comfortable home and enough food is not enough. Without a deep sense of purpose, you may still feel incomplete.
For most of us, life isn’t perfect. Sometimes, events don’t go our way. Relationships are rarely maintenance-free. Kids will go through difficult phases. Yet if we have an abiding sense of purpose, it can give us the strength to endure the challenges of our lives and still be happy.
Your calling may not necessarily be your original career choice. It becomes obvious sooner or later when your work is aligned with your deepest passions. In spite of success and promotions, if what you do every day does not engage your true self, you will feel unfulfilled and incomplete. Despite outward success, happiness may still elude you.
As a child growing up in Vancouver, my mother was very bright, and she hoped one day to go to university. I remember my mom’s gift with words and her love of books. I would go to the Burnaby Public Library with her as a child, and we would both reach our limit on the number of books we could borrow at one time. In an alternate universe, I believe my mom would have been a writer.
But tragedy intervened. By age nine, my mom lost both her parents, and in order for her brothers and sisters to stay together, they all had to work to support the family. The older siblings worked to support the younger ones still in school. My mom studied to do secretarial work.
My mom found her calling in her devotion to family – originally in her family of origin and later the family she nurtured with my dad. She always impressed upon me the enduring value of family, especially when I was a teen and thought friends and girlfriends were more important.
When her three children were grown up, my mom’s sense of family and friendship expanded. Her circle of concern and care expanded into the community, and her time and energy were devoted to making the world a little kinder and happier for others.
I wonder if I would have discovered my calling without the devotion of my mother. She gave me a love of books and of writing. She nurtured my creativity. She modelled care and concern beyond my own self-interests and beyond family. She inspired me to do my part to make the world a better place for others.
Your calling isn’t always what you first choose. Life can intervene but when it does and you listen, you may hear a deeper meaning – perhaps a still small voice that will empower you to live your life’s potential and allow you to discover ever greater happiness.
Today’s happiness exercise: Ask yourself today, “Have I discovered my calling, and am I answering it in what I do today?” If not, reflect on your life so far. What were your passions and talents as a child? What has life taught you? What is it telling you now?