Two Crucial Secrets to a Purposeful Life Story
As an ICU nurse, I spend quite a bit of time listening to the conclusive thoughts of men and women in their final chapters. It seems that as a life story comes to a close, the author is inherently urged to turn back the pages with a careful scrutiny and question the value of their decisions. What has it all meant?
I have been blessed to collect wise words and experience raw emotions with these individuals. And I have uncovered a thread that has run through each story and dialogue without exception: the quest for purpose. When we’re young, we crave it in a vague, aimless manner. When we’re old and nearing the end, we look back and realize that we need it like the air we breathe. We need to know that our lives were lived for a reason, and that we made the most of what we were given.
So how do we cultivate purpose in our lives today?
It’s a buzzword. Everybody’s talking about it, everyone’s emphasizing it. Ever wonder why? Here at a re.styled life, intentionality is a key word in our vision statement. We chose that word because we know that intentionality is the beginning of purpose.
Everyone has heard it at least once, perhaps from a grandmother or a parent: “Enjoy your youth—time passes impossibly fast.” A piercing statement that, in our youth or health or busyness, we usually gloss over. A statement that’s really a plea to live intentionally. An intentional life is a life lived slowly and on purpose, a life that points to something beyond itself. It’s halting mid-sentence before complaining and instead focusing on the positives. It’s savoring the wine and listening to the trees rustle; it’s taking the scenic route. It’s stopping for a second to chat with the TJ’s checkout lady. It’s making time for the people that matter. It’s showing up for the ones who need you.
Hand in hand with intentionality comes gratitude. One cannot be found without the other. We may not realize this, but gratitude is actually a powerful weapon. It is the surest defense against discontent—a mindset that, more than any other, quenches the joy out of life. Gratitude is intentionally acknowledging the magic surrounding oneself, whether that magic is obvious or more hidden, with a heart of thankfulness. This practice brightens each moment as surely as discontent casts a pall. The book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp was influential in proving the life-altering importance of living each day fully and with a heart of gratitude. A discipline I implemented after finishing the book was making short lists—while journaling or on the go, on a sticky note or on the back of a napkin—lists describing the magic of the present moment. Purposefully taking to paper in this manner creates wonder and cultivates contentment.
I hope that when my story comes to an end, I will be able to turn back the pages of my life and feel a peace and purpose in how I chose to walk through each day: with intentionality and gratitude.
Friends, would you be willing to try out this discipline of jotting down gratitude lists? We promise it will be life-changing. Let us know if you’re with us in the comments below!
Xo, holl & lil