Discovering the Purpose of Living ~ Mary Dravis-Parrish

Ah- that age-old question- What is the purpose of life?

Or to be more specific, what is the purpose of my life? As I moved into adulthood years ago, this question kept whispering in my ear. Growing up I leaned on the adults in my life to show me about life’s purpose. I am not so sure that many of them really knew themselves.

Generation after generation focused on doing good works, working hard, providing for family, being a good citizen, and living by good morals. There was an expectation that this included getting married and having children. For some people this all seemed to be enough. BUT for many others, myself included, something was missing, something so crucial that the question about the purpose of life kept surfacing.

The quest of pursuing my life purpose by being good, doing what was “right”, helping others, and raising my kids to be good people, left me feeling empty. My life fell to pieces when my son died by suicide and my marriage ended after 20 years of doing all I could to keep it going. I was totally lost as to who I was and what I wanted out of life. The very things that were supposed to be my purpose had dissolved. I was left wondering, how much of that was my fault? For indeed if raising a family and keeping a marriage together was my purpose, surely I must have failed. This left me feeling depressed and hopeless.

I know that I am not alone in this. I have met others who have had life changing experiences that have left them wondering, “What is the purpose of life and living?” What else is there? Is there anything else?

I discovered what was missing- this essence called Joy. I had bought into the idea that for me to have joy and be happy, would be selfish and inconsiderate of those who are miserable, sad and lonely. It was as if I had something to do with their choice to live that way.

Some people create this ideal of having a grand and meaningful purpose that will verify their existence. As I even write these words, I feel heavy with the task of needing to prove that I have value and need to use my purpose as a way of earning my way through life. I have worked with clients who continue to compare themselves to others, believing that they don’t matter because they haven’t done anything that has drastically changed the world. We miss the fact that by our very existence, we do matter, and we can change the world just by being who we are here to be, to be true to our own existence.

Let’s face it, in this society there is a strong emphasis on making your mark in the world. Make something of yourself is often heard by young adults as they move beyond their years of schooling. Does that mean for the past 18 years, they haven’t been a contribution to anyone or anything? It also implies that there are specific ways that you do make something of yourself outside of being you. It may be through a valued job, or raising a family. There isn’t a child I have met, (yes, even the most difficult) that hasn’t given me something through their very existence.

As a teen, I struggled to know what it was that I would be or do that would make my mark in the world. And so, I did the only thing I really knew that might be of value to anyone- I started a family. That became my purpose, and in that process, I wanted to prove that I was a good parent, a good wife and an overall good person. What I failed to see was that I didn’t need to prove that to anyone. And perhaps the person I was really trying to prove all of that to – was me. And in the insanity of trying to prove to myself, while I thought I was proving it to others, I lost all connection to me and who I would be if I weren’t so focused on being for others. This lifestyle of living was causing me pain, suffering, despair, guilt and fear. No one had told me that I was enough just being me. Or that I could just choose to BE happy.

What if by just being and connecting with others and discovering your own joy of living is your purpose? I have experienced tremendous value and contentment in knowing this. Choosing to be and do things that create more joy in my life has given me more to live for than anything else. I much prefer being with people who encourage and support me by being themselves than I do with people who are too busy making something of themselves just to prove that they are something. Have you ever been with someone who just radiates joy from within? Do you notice how that makes you feel? Do you find yourself wanting more of what they have?

Is it possible in this world today to pursue your own “purpose”? Not a purpose that imposes that you judge yourself to make sure that you are doing it right, but rather more of a priority of what matters to you the most? I believe so. I have been working on being more aware and applying methods and tools that continue to allow me to step into new possibilities, make greater choices, ask empowering questions and create a life that fits my design and my desires. I now choose the things that matter to me, not what matters to someone else.

Surprisingly, what I have found in this process is that I am not being selfish at all, and in fact, I am more caring and kinder to others because of my own pursuit of joy and happiness. I am a better parent now that I don’t have anything to prove. I allow my children to explore what matters most to them, even if it is different than what matters most for me.

Mary Dravis-Parrish, Parent Whisperer, Author, Speaker and Host of Be You Parenting radio show devotes her messages to empowering each individual to be all they can be.

Mary Dravis-Parrish has over 25 years of experience as an educator, trainer, empowerment family coach, and speaker.
Mary is dedicated to bringing greater possibilities to family living that allows both parents and children to live life that is true to their inherent uniqueness.

She is the author of Empowered Parents Empowering Kids, A Guide to Be You Parenting.   Her radio show, Be You Parenting on Inspired Choices Radio Network, offers tips and insights for today’s empowered parents.

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For more about Parenting to the True Nature of your child tune in to this episode of Be You Parenting.

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