It is important as spiritual beings, as Christians, and as Catholics to strive for happiness. And we can make a lot of choices for it that are perfectly in alignment with our highest values and everything we believe. Happiness helps us be what God intends.
Happiness is a lot more than feeling good. What it means to thrive as a human being has a lot of elements.
We need a purpose to be happy. Having a sense of purpose is important.
You have spiritual, mental, and emotional components. When they are in congruence, that awesome Catholic and interior spiritual life can flow through you without getting delayed (or waylaid) by the mental and emotional aspects, which are very much a part of you.
What is purpose?
There are a lot of definitions out there. We like this definition by Richard Leider: “purpose is the deepest belief within us, where we have a profound sense of who we are, where we came from, and what we are here to do.” Also where we are GOING? We added that last part.
Purpose is the deepest belief within us, where we have a profound sense of who we are, where we came from, what we are here to do, and where we are going.
There’s a clarity of identity about who I am as a unique person and who I am created to be. What’s engaging me and pulling me forward?
Purpose is the thread of direction that shapes our lives. It’s a source of deep vitality and vision.
As Catholics, we have a strong direction as to where we are ultimately going: to be resurrected humans in the kingdom of God where God brings heaven and earth together in a renewed creation. It shapes our other chosen directions.
We can have “big” Purposes, smaller day-to-day purposes, and other purposes that fall in between them.
These, separately or in combination, help create our sense of purpose. Being connected to something bigger than us really adds a lot to our sense of purpose. That makes sense, right? Having focus on something outside of yourself is central to living in love with God and your neighbor.
Sometimes we sense that our actions are not creating much of a sense of purpose… there’s a lack of alignment with something that’s in us, perhaps with our values. Like a dissatisfying job. Or a role that you’ve taken on that’s starting to feel like a “waste of time.”
It’s often possible to reexamine or revisit those situations where there’s a lack of alignment between you and what you are doing. To rearrange your perspective and likely your approach so that it “fits” you better. Playing to your character strengths and talents is often helpful. And remembering what it is that you wanted to achieve when you started in the situation.
It’s actually disturbing how many people get to midlife and say, I’ve been doing this thing for so many years and actually it’s not aligned with who I am. And gosh, now that I think about it, it really is affecting my happiness in life – my flourishing, my thriving.
If you want a sense of purpose, use your character strengths and talents to take action that connects you to something bigger than yourself. One important thing to understand about purpose is this: it requires action. “Action” is a broad term, and being a prayer warrior can be a form of action. For the most part, when you think of taking action, think of getting up off the couch.
TIP: If you want a sense of purpose, use your character strengths and talents to take action that connects you to something bigger than yourself.
Some of us have really big purposes in life – a “Big Why” that guides our day-to-day activities. You don’t have to have a big Why like that. Many people have a series of roles, activities, and smaller purposes.
Don’t get pulled into our “success” culture and think you need to be doing some “big” thing. God loves you and we don’t think His ideas of what’s “big” or “small” match very well with our own ideas. Love has its own calculus.
You can have more than one big purpose, and lots of smaller ones… they come in all shapes and sizes.
Alignment of your spiritual, mental, and emotional domains will help you take action that engages the purposes that God is presenting you with His Providence. That alignment is so helpful because grace and nature collaborate. The spiritual domain needs cooperation from the mental and emotional domains.
Helping midlife Catholics find purpose, and work out how they collaborate with grace is something we love to do.
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We are Karen and Curtis Herbert, founders of The Catholic Midlife. Our mission is to spark a catholic midlife renewal and help YOU to step into your next season with purpose, hope, and a clear vision for the rest of your life.
Because the rest of
your life matters.