There are times in which I feel I go in circles. I feel we all do.
I see the immense number of tomes out there on success, a best life right now, living in joy, having all we want and yet, I see the flip side on every street corner, in every grocery store line, and sometimes even within when doubt clouds the morning: If this great/perfect/successful life were so easy, wouldn’t we all have achieved a Life: On Task and On Purpose by now?
The first self-help book came out in 1859, The Guardian noted in December. Self-help is a $15 billion dollar industry and is the best-selling genre. So what is missing that trips us up inside, and yet causes us to reach for more books promising to help us discover what is missing, certain that someone else must know what it is? That’s the circle. And so I, personally, go quiet when trying to understand this Gordian knot.
Is it mere dissatisfaction with our lot; the self-help industry is largely an American creation after all. Could it be that our cultural dissatisfaction — which to my mind was beget by people dissatisfied with where they were originally and so sailed across oceans for an opportunity to build a better life — is just, well, our culture? That would cue the comment that Americans dream big, want lots, and thus would of course feel concerned if they thought another had more: more happiness, more contentment, more stuff, more life. And thus, s/he would be forever wondering what the other person has that puts a smile on the face; is it something I don’t have or feel?
Or is there something more than culture driving our binge on self-help?
I sometimes think that what is missing from living a life On Task and On Purpose is simply this: feeling enough.
And feeling our dreams and talents, no matter how humble they might feel, are enough.
Some might call it confidence that is missing, but we all know the confident person who barely masks feeling inadequate. Some might call it joy or connection, yet we all know joy doesn’t last long under the assault of disregard and connection can feel frayed when others disbelieve your heart-felt dream or longed-after talent is enough to put to use. I know this from experience; we all do.
Enough to feel even if just for a minute your dream work is valuable;
Enough to feel for even just a second that you have something specific that only you can do in your time here;
Enough to feel it’s okay to feel excited that this might be true.
I was honored to talk recently to high schoolers who attended a small public charter school designed to help them graduate. Most there, it seemed, hadn’t heard about a billion-dollar self-help industry and clearly most there weren’t sure they’d ever ‘be enough’ by others’ standards. But when asked, a few of them bravely shared aloud their dreams, the work they’d wanted to do since they were 9 or 10, in their life-time here. From shy and sullen silence, joy was suddenly audible when the dreams were met with Yes! encouragement.
I can tell you that every one of their dreams was more than ‘enough’ to feel on task and on purpose, serving the Truth of their souls and life-hopes. I hope they got the message:
They are each enough to do the work, the dream, of their journey, on task and on purpose, just by showing up with passion, focus, belief that they can learn what they need to know, and with themselves and their Truth in hand.
You are, too.
By feeling enough, the circle of discontent and doubt can stop right there and instead lead out to a great path in the time one has here on earth. It’s the path you are here to undertake and the work you are here to do.
Blessings on your day today!