KidMandment 1: Life's purpose
Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them."
One of the toughest questions we'll ever ask ourselves is, "What is our PURPOSE in life?"
Thousands of books have been written on this topic alone. Philosophers in every generation have tried to shed some light on this question. Those who are at peace with their answer live life to the fullest; while those who never get it end up living unfulfilled, never knowing the greatness life has to offer.
In order for us to have any chance of teaching our children about this concept, we first need to understand it ourselves. The example we set early on with our kids has a tremendous impact upon the kind of people they will grow up to be.
Understanding our own PURPOSE is not an easy task! And yet, there’s nothing more important for us to confront than this question, especially if we hope to raise kids who are “successful.”
Teaching our children about PURPOSE, while inspiring them to live the life of their dreams, must be a high priority for any parent. As important as it is, this is not a topic they’ll learn about in school, through the media or from their friends. The importance of living a purposeful life is something we, as parents, must instill in our children.
The expression, “life’s PURPOSE,” may sound like one specific thing; but it is not. There are, of course, many layers of PURPOSE. Our lives can, and should, be meaningful in many ways. Our sense of PURPOSE or wholeness comes from our family, our friends, the groups we associate with, our spiritual affiliations and many, many more.
Good Parents just hope their kids figure it out on their own.
Great Parents understand what makes their lives rich and complete and teach these skills to their children. The question is, if that is your strategy, what happens if they never discover their life’s PURPOSE? Then what?
We all know people who just go through life lost and confused, while others feel whole and satisfied. Could lack of PURPOSE be the reason for this sense of loss and confusion?
Our children’s lives are far different from how ours were at their age. Things are moving so much faster now. Communicating with our children is more imperative than ever, because of the complexity of the world they are living in.
In addition to the speed at which our children grow up, the negative media, the devaluation of God in our society and the pervasiveness of pornography, we are also dealing with a society that no longer has a need to fight for survival. Unlike the vast majority of generations before us, almost all of our survival needs are met.
We live in a civilized country in the 21st century with running water and food readily available for the masses. We have warm clothing and housing for the masses. Sure, life can still be quite a struggle for many; but, overall, this generation in America lives better than any other generation in the world at any other time in history. We used to live to survive; now we survive trying to find meaningful purpose in our lives.
This creates new challenges for the age-old question regarding the PURPOSE of life. If it is no longer just to survive and procreate, then what is it?
Unfortunately, we often get WHAT our PURPOSE in life is confused with HOW we expect to accomplish it. This makes a complicated issue even more complicated. So, let’s start out by establishing that they are two totally different subjects. The fact of the matter is there is no one PURPOSE in life; every person must find the answer to this question on his or her own. If you want to raise “successful” children, a common denominator of anyone’s PURPOSE should be “to provide meaning for ourselves, in our own lives. This means that having purpose, meaning and/or fulfillment—whatever you want to call it—in life is not something that comes from others or from the outside; it is something that comes from within. For some, that means serving others; for some that means accumulating power and wealth; and for others it is something altogether different. If you don’t know what creates meaning in your life, then figuring it out should be your primary responsibility. Because until you know what you want to accomplish in life (PURPOSE) you will never be able to figure out how you can do it (PATH).
If we clearly define our own purpose and actively pursue it, we will inspire our children to live lives that are more fulfilling than just accumulating fast cars, fancy clothes and big houses. Showing our children how we live a life of service to others will open their eyes to living meaningful lives. They will see the endless benefits of living life this way and will want to go out and accomplish something wonderful on their own. Watching you live your real life experiences will provide them the internal motivation they need to guide them long after you are gone. Without a clear, focused purpose, they are more likely to sit around and complain about how life isn’t fair. This attitude creates victims, depression, resentment and the sense that they have lost control of their own lives.
The good news is that all of this can be avoided by helping them discover their own life’s PURPOSE.
We all have an instinctive need to fit in and feel like part of something bigger than ourselves. Understanding our PURPOSE and living it helps us realize we are part of a bigger plan. This provides us with a sense of unity, fulfillment and hope.
Lucky for us, it is as simple as teaching our children to be of service to others. But let’s not be confused. Of course, serving others includes providing help to the sick, the elderly and the needy; but make no mistake about it: Service to others is not limited to what people would call the “less fortunate.”
Service to others includes serving our Lord, ourselves, our families, our friends, our community and our country, as well as the environment.
When we serve others, we learn both humility and gratitude. We can focus more on the blessings we have than on what we don’t have. We feel happier and recognize more meaning in our lives.
Kidmandment One is about understanding, teaching and living a life with purpose and meaning. What a great gift to give and receive! Identify your PURPOSE in life and see the impact it has on you, your family and your friends.
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