Living On Purpose

Everything on earth has a purpose, every desease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.

·         Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket)

When I was six, I learned the purpose of life. Half of the families in our neighborhood were Jewish and the other half Roman Catholic. I went to services with my friends but they merely tolerated the fact that I was a member of the Bahá’í Faith, a little-known religion, and they never came to my Sunday School. They thought I was weird because I loved going to religion classes. What I loved most was that we did great art. We made murals of the children of the world. We designed one-of-a-kind covers for our prayer journals with swirly colors of oil paint in a pan of water. It was like magic to me then. But there was one problem. I was overcome with fits of embarrassment by our art teacher, Mrs. McComb, who giggled every time she spoke. “Nervous laughter,” my mother called it when I complained in the back seat on the way home, my brothers taunting me with giggle imitations.

Finally, one day after Sunday School, my mother decided it was time for me to stop asking, “Why does Mrs. McComb have to laugh like that?” “I think I know why she laughs,” Mother said, as she handed me an open book showing an old photograph of Ábdu’l-Bahá, a central figure of our faith, surrounded by American children. Pointing to a smiling little girl in a pinafore with long ringlets, cuddled up beside him, she said, “That is Mrs. McComb. When she was your age, she wrote Ábdu’l-Bahá a letter. It said, ‘Dear Master, Why are we here? Love, Ruhiyyih.’ And he wrote back, and what do you think he said? “Beloved Ruhiyyih, We are here to acquire the virtues of the Kingdom. Love, Ábdu’l-Bahá.’ Perhaps she laughs because she is so happy to know the secret of life.” After that, I listened for the sound of Mrs. McComb’s giggles. I smiled to myself, knowing her secret.

-Linda Kavelin Popov, Sacred Moments - Daily Meditations on The Virtues.©1996

As an inspiring international speaker on the cultivation of personal and corporate virtues, character education, women's development and community healing, psychotherapist and organizational development consultant Linda Kavelin Popov is a charter member of the National Think Tank on Character for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She is on the Advisory Editorial Board for the Spirituality and Ethics segment on CTV National News in Canada. In 2001 she received a Women of Distinction Award from the YW/YMCA. Her work is being applied in communities traumatized by student murders, in day-care centers, prisons and by diverse faith communities. She has been a guest on the Oprah Show and many other talk shows addressing strategies for transforming violence to virtues. She co-produced the television series Virtues: A Family Affair and has written the books and materials which form the core of The Virtues Project.


Live by what you believe so fully that your life blossoms, or else purge the fear- and guilt-producing beliefs from your life. When people believe one thing and do something else, they are inviting misery. If you give yourself the name, play the game. When you believe something you don't follow with your heart, intellect, and body, it hurts. Don't do that to yourself. Live your belief, or let that belief go. If you are not actively living a belief, it's not really your belief, anyway.

·         John-Roger (Life 101)

I don't pretend to know the secret of life. Except as it applies to my life. But I am willing to share that knowlege with you, and perhaps it may apply to your life. Live on purpose. It is simple, and composed of two parts: Live – by making a best effort to truly live each day, consciously, being aware of the relationship of my Self and my soul to my environment and its possibilities; On purpose - by first of all determining what that purpose is, and then applying myself to the task wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Just like the annual rotation of the earth around our sun and the tilt of the earth upon its own axis provide a variety of seasons, so my life goes through its own seasons. In my youth, I had a rather undefined purpose - more or less a selfishness that was focused on going places and doing things that pleased me. Eventually I grew into a phase that was more considerate of the feelings of others, but lacked a firm definition. I began to explore belief systems, adopting concepts into my life that urged change and growth.

The real growth began when I was asked by a friend to define that purpose, to put into words my "mission statement." Businesses involved in a process called “strategic planning” take into account where they are, what they are doing, how they are doing it, and how beneficial it is to the corporation and the community. Defining these things helps to determine where they want to be, what they must do, how they must do it, and what the social and economic benefits will be. The process is much the same for the individual as it is for the corporation. My “mission statement” went something like this:

"I am an individual, a part of the Universe and a creation of That Great Author which created that Universe. There are other individuals who are much like me. It is my purpose to learn what special part I am to play in the created Universe, to learn how I am to relate to myself, to my surroundings, to others and to my God, by apprehending and applying Universal Truth as I understand it. I commit myself to the seeking of Truth; to being responsible for, and acting upon, what I have learned and will learn; to being honest in every way; and to living each day and performing each act with this purpose in mind."

Am I living my purpose? Not in every moment, not in every choice, but more often lately. Generally speaking, using that statement as a foundation for most decisions assures a general positive flow in my life that is head and shoulders above where I was and what I experienced when I was a few years younger. Thoughts are powerful, because nothing - nothing! – is, or ever was, or ever will be created without being first formed in thought. Thought shapes what comes into being in my life. Writing my thoughts down is a powerful way to present them in the present tense, where my subconscious can accept them as accomplished fact. My subconscious will then take over and guide almost every aspect of my life “as if” that purpose were true.

Having a worthy purpose promotes a general happiness in my life. Helen Keller expressed the idea that real happiness was "not obtained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." Placing my trust in the Spirit gives me faith in what the final outcome will be, especially if I am living and acting in accordance with that defined purpose. "To thine own self be true" - no better advice on this subject has come along since those words were first uttered. I invite God to use me, and I prepare myself for the task by having purpose, by being responsible for it and by acting in accordance with it.

If I were to listen to my Spirit, what would it tell me about my purpose? It would tell me that everything in the Universe has a purpose, and that all purposes work toward the improvement or growth of those things and individuals that inhabit the Universe. It would tell me that I am intended to use compassion, integrity and example as instruments to work towards the accomplishment of that mission. It would tell me that a life’s purpose is unending; that it is not something I will accomplish and then quit and retire. To know if my purpose is true, there is a test: if I can see an end to it, it is not my real purpose.

Over time, the definition of that purpose may change, because I continue to change. My purpose itself provides for me the opportunity for change and growth, and change in my life and in my purpose is the natural outcome. Continuing to reach higher, to do better, to serve as a spiritual partner in the progression of others - these acts also help me to grow and to refine and redefine that purpose. Most importantly, however, is to stay concentrated and focused upon fulfilling the purpose I have defined for myself. Today. Now, in this moment, and the next, and the next.

Knowing one's purpose requires a combination of imagination, intuition and the ability to dream of great things. Les Brown, the famous bandleader, once said, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars." Dream, therefore, and love, and live. Give yourself the name and play the game. Write it down and see what happens.

Do it all on purpose.



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