By Marilyn Tam
What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? What am I striving for?
During these challenging times, such questions come up in many people’s minds.
If we knew our life purpose and the meaning of life, the stress of our day to day trials would be easier to understand and endure. The heavy pressure, physical, emotional and financial strain we are feeling under the current health crisis, travel restrictions and political uncertainty could be converted into motivation if we can see the bigger picture.
My dear friend, Glenn, is an emergency room physician and medical director. In the 30 years he’s been practicing medicine, he has seen many near-death situations and many people die. It has given him an interesting perspective on our culture’s attitude toward life and death.
He says that we put the dates of a person’s birth and death on a gravestone with only a dash in between to denote their life and contribution.
For example, all we know from a gravestone inscribed with the words, Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), is that Abraham Lincoln was 56 years old when he died. We do not know that he literally held the United States of America together when it might have split apart, that he freed the slaves, and that he was a powerful orator whose vision and speeches moved a nation.
The dash symbolizes our entire lives — the time we have to create meaning for ourselves, our families, our communities, our country, and the world.
We are the ones responsible for what we do with our lives.
We are the ones who will one day look back and determine whether the life we lived was happy, fulfilling and if it was one we are proud to have lived. Like Abraham Lincoln, we do not know when our lives may end, so we need to ask the question now: “What is the purpose of my life?” For an individual or a company, the answer to that question determines the mission and purpose.
Each day you have the choice to begin again. Choose wisely.
When you think about that dash — the length of your life between your birth and death — what do you want it to say about you? Ask yourself what is most important instead of what is most urgent. What gives you joy and a sense of satisfaction?
These are the big questions that you need to answer in order to proceed with inner peace in your life. Some people find it by taking time to meditate and reflect. Other people find it after encountering some life-threatening incident. And others find it after being hit by some emotional or financial disaster.
The key to finding it is to ask yourself honestly and fearlessly: What really makes you happy? What gives you inner peace?
Ultimately it is usually the relationships that you make with yourself and with your family and friends you value that are most important. It is about contributing to the wellbeing of the greater whole, to using your talents and gifts to help make the world a better place.
Make a commitment to yourself and to your loved ones that you are going to devote your time to what is going to make you happy and proud of your “Dash.”
Knowing the meaning of your Dash makes it less trying to deal with the onslaught of challenges you are facing today. Your dash; it’s yours to determine how you play it out. Make it one that you are happy to live.
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