How to Bring Happiness and Purpose to Your Life

Calm office worker Hindu woman sit at desk near laptop folded fingers in Mudra gesture take break resting at workplace do yoga exercise practice. Concept of contentment and happiness.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ~ David Viscott

You are a seeker. Searching for more of life. More joy. More depth. More connection. More happiness. Our generation is not willing to settle for a meaningless existence. Just to get by, to keep it all together. It doesn’t interest us anymore. We want more freedom, especially in the realm of our work.

But it can seem like a long road between here and there. From this job, from this life into—the unknown. We know there is a deeper purpose to fulfill, so we start to ask ourselves the question: 

What Would Make Me Happy?

Four years ago, I started asking myself this question. And I was coming up with nothing. Silence. Not good.

I was working as a successful hospital pharmacist, moving up the ladder into management. I made great money and was well respected and efficient. But I was unhappy. My professional dissatisfaction had become physical, and my body was speaking to me with symptoms of severe nausea. Sugar consumption was at an all-time high, and I had to get out.

But where to go? What would make me happy? What would I rather do?

I had no idea.

What Constitutes Happiness?

If you are at a career and life crossroads, you are likely asking yourself this question, too. What would make you happy? And perhaps, like me, you won’t be able to answer the question at first. Or, if you do dream up a solution, it involves distant countries, foreign adventures, and escape. And in your heart, you know that’s not the answer.

You desire a life that you don’t need a holiday to “escape from.” You desire a life that is the destination.

When I first asked myself this question—what would make me happy?—the hospital pharmacist had no clue. I was going through the motions of life and finding pleasure in its various pursuits, but nothing really lit me up. Nothing that really sang to my heart.

And I was frustrated. How was I so numb to life that I couldn’t answer the simple question in a meaningful, not just fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of way?

Is Happiness the Goal?

Hand writing Do What You Love, Love What You Do with marker on transparent wipe board. Concept about the importance to find a job you love that fills you with happiness and passion.

So I rephrased the question from “What would make me happy?” to something more achievable. “What am I curious about?”

I removed the pressure for this next job to be “the thing that made me happy,” and I created space for possibility. Every single possibility that sparked a trace of passion or happiness was followed, and it looked like:

Could I sell antiques? Let me investigate… Perhaps organizing weddings? Or bake Bliss Balls?

Maybe I could be a yoga teacher? The list goes on …

And something remarkable began to happen. I found the more I explored, the more I got to know myself again. The more I discovered what didn’t make me happy, the closer to joy I felt. The more I became sensitized to what really lit me up, the clearer my direction felt.

Create Space for Happiness

By this stage, the desire for change was relentless. In the current incarnation of my work, the pain of going on was greater than the fear of stepping into the unknown. And so I stepped. I reduced my pharmacy job hours, and I created space for more possibility, more curiosity, and more purpose to flow into my life.

When we are busy, the sheer inertia of our day often takes over. Our habits of keeping everything on track, worshiping the goddess of busyness, and forgetting to prioritize our pleasure have become the norm.

And these are the same habits that we seek to rewrite. But re-calibration needs space to occur. This upgrade takes time, just like downloading new software to your computer and waiting for the reboot. And patience. And the screen will go black for a while. We must be open and willing to sit in the black void while the download is received and the new paradigm is created. We have to make the space for the desire to arrive.

And keeping busy doesn’t create space. It just makes more of the same. Essentially, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you will keep getting what you’re getting.

Stop Reward-Consuming and Clear Your Debt

Happiness is also good money management

At this point in my journey, and in the journey of so many others, money always comes up as the thing. I have expenses. I have a mortgage. I couldn’t possibly live on any less income. It feels risky. I hear you.

But what price do you place on your joy?

Consider this. The busy paradigm most of us live in isn’t overflowing with joy or purpose. So we learn to compensate by treating ourselves to this restaurant, that holiday, this new wardrobe, and that green smoothie every time we are out.

We find rewards to compensate for our unhappiness because our consumption increases proportionally to our dissatisfaction with life. These “rewards” become just that. Rewards—to keep our heads above the surface in a career, life, or relationship we don’t otherwise find joyful. What if, with the creation of space and the following of your curiosities, you could create more joy with less stuff?

I’m not saying that your new joy-filled job will pay less. In fact, I would argue that you will probably earn more (I do). But in the short term, your change of direction takes investment. Investment in yourself.

Prioritize Your Curiosities

During my transition period of creating more space and following my curiosities, there were two essential and practical outcomes:

  • I stopped mindlessly consuming. I started investing solely in myself and what nurtured me.
  • I cleared my debts so I could follow my desires wherever they led.

And with time, space, and curiosity, I felt ready to face the big question.

What Is My Purpose?

Live longer and better by finding your purpose and greater happiness - handwriting on a napkin with a cup of coffee.

I started to wonder: What is this concept that we call purpose? How did she get it? And how can I get there? 

I sat with this question for so many nights. During one of these soul-searching nights, I read a quote from the Dalai Lama where he said, “The purpose of life is to be happy,” and I realized the truth. No one job can define my purpose. No one choice, or label, or career can be my purpose.

Purpose cannot be defined by one thing. Purpose is a choice that I make every day. A choice about how I show up in the world. When I show up with my heart open, and I follow my desires, my truth, my passion, and my happiness, and I share that with the world, I am living my purpose. Purpose = sharing my passion with the world.

This definition of purpose isn’t restricted to one career or one choice. It’s a simple choice every day. I can show up as pharmacist Jenna, sharing my passion and living a life of purpose. I can show up as kinesiologist Jenna, sharing my passion and living a life of purpose. This means the more I open my heart, the more I follow my passion, and the more I serve through that passion, the more purpose I find in life.

What Does It Mean to Follow Your Passion?

But following your passion might not manifest as a career at first because purpose is more than a job. It’s a way of living. And often, when seeking transformation, the change has to happen within before it manifests out in the world. Connecting with your deep passion, which knows how to answer the question, “What would make me happy?” fills you up from within. And when that vessel is full, it overflows—into the service of others and into jobs and careers and meaning in the world.

Which is what we are seeking. More joy. More depth. More connection. More happiness. You are the only one who can make the choice, the space, the commitment. Choose yourself.

Reprinted with permission from Tiny Buddha  The post originally appeared here.

Jenna Ward is a kinesiologist, clarity coach and speaker helping women create lives that are rich in freedom, purpose, and expression. Creator of The Sacred Circle and the Wild + Free interview series Jenna works one-on-one and with groups of sisters around the world. To learn more about her offering, visit or find Jenna on Facebook or Instagram.

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