10 Ways to Align with Your Purpose or Dharma
By Nicolette Stinson
What would happen if you stopped trying to “find your purpose” and instead started vulnerably showing up as you are, ready to be of service?
The spiritual Law of Dharma states that for every special talent, the world has a unique need that can only be filled by the expression of that talent. You can make the fullest use of the Law of Dharma by committing to serve others through your unique creative expression, in whatever form that takes.
Before getting sober I had no purpose. I oftentimes “thought” that I was a waste of space on the planet. Of course, drinking every day, having to drink every day, and living in that negative so-called life, didn’t help me get more positive nor purposeful.
Once you get out of your head and stop pondering what you are meant to do with your life and instead take action to serve others in any way you can, you begin to align with purpose. What gets in the way of most people taking action in this way is the courage to go for what they truly want, take chances, and be fully seen.
I know, I feel, today that finding my purpose was no coincidence. I really believe
that everything happens for a reason and that at any given moment everything is perfect. Of course, I didn’t see nor feel that in my disease of alcoholism. I didn’t realize that that was my necessary journey to bring me to where I am today. Purposeful. To share my experience, strength and hope with that one person who needs a glimmer of hope at this moment.
Aligning with your purpose in life requires visibility and vulnerability. It requires pouring your heart into something that means the world to you with detachment and expressing yourself without expectation of outcome.
I am so passionate about my sobriety, my recovery, my journey. Today I live, breathe, and bleed this gift and sharing it with you. My life, my relationships, my work, my everything comes from my sobriety.
I would not be so passionate about it if it weren’t good. But it’s awesome! To have a sense of purpose, gratitude and humility was so unfamiliar to me before getting sober. Today I have choices. I have a choice to not drink or drug which I truly did not have before surrendering and asking for help. But unless I give it away…this sobriety, these choices, this hope and compassion…I cannot keep it. I must give away what was so freely given me when I needed it most in order to keep it. I don’t want to let this go.
Aligning with my purpose of sharing my journey…my experience, strength and hope…did not come easy. It did require visibility and vulnerability. I was most uncomfortable sharing my rigorous honesty on social media. But in order to keep this gift I had to crawl out of my comfort zone and be ready for bigger and better gifts. I listened to my heart, quieted the fear in my head, and just did it.
But I did it in a roundabout kind of way. Having just taken an early retirement from the grocery business to go full-throttle as an artist, it was suggested I use social media to promote my business. Not knowing at the time intending to
promote my art I was really promoting recovery. That was my life. My everything. I continue promoting that message today. The art and business comes later.
Researcher Brene Brown, in her research on vulnerability, found that letting yourself be seen as well as loving and serving without expectation is key to living life with a deep sense of worthiness or purpose.
When I first got sober back in 1998 I had such guilt, remorse and shame. I was so blessed to get sober in a treatment facility that taught me about the disease of alcoholism. I did not choose to be an alcoholic any more than I chose to be a female or of Chinese descent. I was born this way and had to not only accept these facts, but embrace them and love them which eventually led me to being able to accept, embrace and love my disease…and myself.
I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous (for which I am NOT a representative nor spokesperson, but a true believer!) which gave me a toolbox for living. I learned about me, Dee, and what makes me tick. I got to choose a Power Greater Than Myself over to whom I could turn my will and my life. I got to stop living from my head and enjoy and be comfortable living from my heart. Things started to look positive, hopeful, to make sense. The puzzle pieces really started to fit together.
I began to realize the fellowship in AA loved and served me without expectation which only strengthened my purpose and gave me confidence. I also realized that I was not unique, nor alone on this journey. What a comfort and a weight lifted from my shoulders! Today I can serve without expectation. No expectations, no disappointments.
If your purpose ultimately blossoms through your willingness to show up, be seen, and be of service, then perhaps the important question is not “How do I find my purpose?”, but is instead, “How can I authentically show up in service for those who need me most today?”
The first half of my first 13-1/2 years of sobriety I suited up, showed up, and did everything AA suggested I do to have a better life and stay sober. But, one day at a time, I found myself in complacency and busy-ness enjoying the gifts of
sobriety. I stopped giving away what was so freely given me when I needed it most. I stopped connecting with newcomers and forgot my journey. I drank.
But even though I spewed out the words, “No, thank you, I haven’t had a drink in 13-1/2 years”, I drank that shot of tequila that yelled at me and that was left for me in case I changed my mind. I was weak, complacent, selfish. My insurance policy had lapsed by ceasing going to meetings and sharing my recovery. My Higher Power has such a sense of humor…and such a plan for me. With that first shot came an immediate urge for more…along with the guilt, shame, hiding, lying, and all the negativity that comes with being active in any disease.
I want to spend my energy in positive ways today, not searching for the next high, then hiding it. It’s way too exhausting for me living that way. Today, once again in recovery, one day at a time, I am happy, joyous and free! and careful to stick close to the fellowship of AA.
Below are 10 ways you can discover your own answers to that important question and align yourself with your purpose or dharma:
1. Be Yourself
Here is the chance to use that timeless advice from your mother, “Just be yourself, honey, and everyone will love you.” The more authentically YOU that you are, the better chance you have of connecting with the people who need you most. Plus, it’s so much easier than trying to be someone you aren’t. Don’t put on an act or try to be someone else, be yourself and share where you are NOW in your journey with others.
Wow! This says it all! Before getting sober I was so fear-based. All of me was about winning your approval as I had no self-confidence nor self-worth. I sacrificed everything to look good for you on the outside until I had nothing left to give.
AA’s Twelve Steps have changed my life. It just happened to work out this way on my journey through life. By working the 4th, 5th and 6th Steps I could finally understand why I was the way I was. So freeing it’s magical!
Today I can love myself for who I am with all my flaws and imperfections. I no longer worry about whether or not you will like me. If you don’t, you don’t. I don’t take it personally. You and the rest of the world are on your own journeys. I
just have to take care of me and answer to that Power Greater Than Myself. If We are on good terms, if I’m doing and being the best I can, then We’re good.
If I stay in the moment, in the present, in the space in front of my nose, then I shall give you my full attention, respect and compassion that you deserve. You were also not put in “my bubble” at random; there are no coincidences. And sharing myself with you in a rigorously honest way might just give you that glimmer of hope you didn’t have before we met. I can go to sleep thankful.
BUT…there are those other kind of people out in the world who don’t live in the sunlight of the spirit. Their words and actions can hurt. But only if we let them and have not yet reached that place of self-worth and self-love. Again, everyone is on their own journeys, some not so pretty, some brought up in negativity and hatred. You know, we ALL have our “diseases”. Just offer compassion and respect.
2. Be Consistent
You will create an impact with your efforts to live inside your purpose when you keep showing up even when it feels like you aren’t creating any real results. When you keep putting yourself out there in the same consistent way every day eventually you will hit a tipping point and your efforts will bear fruit. Be consistent in not only how often you put yourself out there, but also in the way you show up. People trust and respond to consistent efforts.
For me that means I have to walk my talk. I can write these blogs and pitch sermons until I’m blue in the face, buy my actions speak louder than words! I wouldn’t be fooling anyone but myself. My head would start running the show again. I would distance myself from my Higher Power. Gratitude and humility would disappear.
I’m not going there. Not today anyway. From past experiences, at least with alcohol addiction, not walking my talk wasn’t so apparent while my head told me everything was peachy until I picked up that shot of tequila. Then I realized that was my head, and my disease, talking, telling me everything was just fine. Cunning. Baffling. Powerful.
3. Be Bold
Stay in action and don’t be afraid to say what you think and what is really happening with you behind the scenes. Authenticity and vulnerability are bold, and they will help you align with your true purpose.
There’s that Rigorous Honesty I’ve learned about in AA. If I lay the cards out on the table for you at the onset, I don’t have to spend energy later wondering what I said or how I behaved later. I’ve lived through many a black-out and never want to go there again.
I trust my gut to pick up on your vibe whether or not you are receptive to my journey. My gut has never lied to me and no one has ever walked away disgruntled or in disbelief. I have only received hugs and words of kindness for sharing my true self and my life with you.
4. Be Helpful
Show up with value and solutions. People will notice you and respect you if you help them solve a legitimate problem they are facing or fulfill a desire they have. Being genuinely helpful will help to attract people and opportunities into your life. Give to others without expectation of anything in return.
This is like being an AA sponsor. Being in the moment. Attentive. Respectful. Listening. Anonymous! Noticing tone and body language. Making sure they truly want my rigorous honesty (which sometimes is not what they want to hear) and knowing what comes from me is only my opinion or suggestion. And being thankful to the recipient for trusting me and allowing me to share my experience, strength and hope. Keeps me humble. Keeps me grateful. Keeps me sober.
5. Be Choosy
Don’t dilute your energies. Being specific with the way you want to serve will help you align with your purpose. You won’t find fulfillment in trying to be everything to everyone. Determine what specific kind of effect you want to have in your service to others. Choosing your “signature” style doesn’t limit who and when you serve, it simply focuses your energy to the impact you want to create.
2017 has been year of growing my art business. 2016 was a year of growing my recovery service. 2018 will be a year of happy mediums. All I know is that no matter which direction my Higher Power drives me in the new year, I shall enjoy the ride and continue the excitement of learning, growing, and sharing. My gut (no pun intended) is also pulling me in the direction of more Dee time (nature, quiet time, meditation, exercise, and FUN)!
6. Be Friendly
Being kind and showing up as a friendly face will do wonders for you in aligning with your purpose and make you happier while you do it! Spread joy always.
Being friendly for me means I’ve got to stay in the moment…grateful and humble. I remember being a grocery checker with customers always saying, “Why are you so happy?” I would reply, “Sure beats the alternative.” And that is how I try to live my life. In the positive. My head, but especially today my heart, can turn any negative into a positive. Any glass half empty to half full. Such an awesome way to live!
Also when a grocery checker my boss would ask if I wanted to go into management. Although I tactfully didn’t say this, “Hell, no, I’m happy. Why would I want to be like you?”, I would reply, “Thank you for asking, but ‘No”, I’m happy right where I am.”
Although I don’t feel I have a mean bone in my body, I can so easily think nasty thoughts and have fun with them. However, I do remember when making amends to my kids they told me how mean I was when I was drinking. Today, one day at a time, I choose to not become that person. Today I am truly happy, joyous and free!
7. Be Imaginative
Try new things, let your mind and imagination wander. If you are feeling burnt out or like you have plateaued, try to implement something new that you never even thought about doing. Adding creativity and variety to your life will allow you to open up to new possibilities and opportunities that may bring you into deeper alignment with your purpose.
I have such the imagination, and a sick one at that. I love horror flicks. I love living in a make-believe world. I’m kinda Disney. I don’t wanna grow up…I’m a Toys’R’Us kid. And that is me. And I thrive on being me, in my honesty.
I wake up each morning excited to take on the day. The day in which my Higher Power drives me around in our pink convertible Cadillac and I go along for the ride learning and experiencing what I need to experience, growing to the next level, and then sharing that. It’s like a magic carpet ride!
8. Be Vulnerable
Be willing to be imperfect. The only way to move forward is to take action and get feedback. Sometimes this requires you to be vulnerable and jump before you are totally “ready.” As mentioned in the introduction, being willing to be vulnerable dramatically increases your alignment with purpose.
Back in the day I was afraid to get negative feedback or make an ass of myself, because I had no self-worth. Today I’m okay with that. I learn from every experience. I get better with every experience. I grow with every experience. I am not perfection; I am progress. And I love the journey I’m on being a human being with a positive outlook. One day at a time I leave my comfort zone. Tiny baby steps. If I don’t like it, I go back. Learning. Growing.
9. Be Savvy
Stay on top of the trends that are happening in the world. Keep yourself educated and find new and creative ways to serve others and the planet. Life as you know it is currently changing at a faster pace than ever before, so being savvy and resourceful will allow you to be of service in a way that is innovative and transformational and aligns with the collective purpose of the planet.
I’m a news junkie. I told you I had a sick imagination, but I have a sick sense of humor as well. Although the news is fully inundated with negative shit, I realize that that is what sells news. I know that there are those out in the real world who live and feel like me. We’re good people. And from our actions we start that ripple effect of positivity and hope, love and kindness. Tiny baby steps.
10. Be a Star
Don’t be afraid to claim your gifts, get out there, work, and create meaningful relationships. Let your light shine and be a light for others!
I am not asking for kudos, money, notoriety, none of that. I write because it makes me feel good. I go to meetings because it makes me feel good. If somethings is ailing me, I put it in the God Box, write or share it in one way or another, and take the power out of it. Sharing my experience, strength and hope is my way of giving thanks for this awesome life with which I’ve been blessed. If I don’t give it away, I cannot keep it!
When I was leaving the treatment center for alcoholism I remember (and copping a resentment as well) my counselor saying to me going back to real life as a mom, a wife, and a grocery checker, that what I was doing was such a waste. I was proud of what I was doing and I did it well What did she mean? Today I understand my purpose, coming only from this journey of mine through life. The pieces of the puzzle are all starting to come together, to make sense. Dang exciting!
Wishing you all a “glass half full” New Year! With warmest aloha, Dee Harris
For those interested in checking out my Art with a Message of Inspiration (the reason I started this blog three years ago), please visit my website at http://www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and enjoy!
Get the resources you need to gain a clear sense of direction and purpose in your life with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now.
About the Author
Certified Coach, Yoga Instructor and Perfect Health Instructor
Nicolette is an online personal brand strategist for coaches and wellness professionals. She is also a Certified Coach, Chopra Center Perfect Health Instructor, and Yoga Teacher as well as an avid student of mindfulness, creativity, personal development, and spirituality. Visit http://www.nicolettestinson.com to learn more.
From The Chopra Center.