I have been exploring the topic of life purpose through my recent blog posts. I’m using this notion to design my own life and to feel satisfied and contented with it. On a practical level, a good place to start is exploring the reasons why you take certain decisions in your life, what is important to you and did you use those important reasons when making your decisions? I like to think of it as letting the ‘why’ in your life be a guiding force. It can be a powerful reminder to keep us going when we find ourselves losing motivation. It is something for all of us to think about, not only adults but children too.
It involves making time and space to discover our ‘why’ but also having the conviction that it is important to do it. Parents, teachers and caregivers can encourage children to think in this way too. It can start from an early age and can lead to a huge amount of both personal satisfaction and freedom and a gift we can foster as our children become part of the adult world where they will need to be responsible for their own decisions.
For some, it will mean relinquishing ‘helicopter’ parenting that can be prevalent in first world cultures. Obviously there needs to be a balance and children are not in a position to dictate everything that happens in their lives, they have adults to help them. But, let’s look for opportunities to follow their own decisions so they become used to trusting their own intuition as a basis for knowing what is right for them. Children can learn that their own ‘why’ for their decisions is important and what has begun in childhood can be carried thorough into adulthood, learning to be responsible for their own actions in a very empowering way.
As we become more global and even more information and opportunities arise, unless we grow a future generation that is firmly implanted in their own ‘why’ then they may either be constantly confused as they navigate life or they will become sheep who follow others and basically become less and less connected with their real selves.
You might want to consider the following points as you help your children become increasingly comfortable with using their own ‘why’ when making decisions that impact their lives.
- Encourage them to ask the simple and obvious question, ‘Why am I doing this?’
- Use their imagination to help make choices. When deciding between two options, first, live as though ‘I have taken choice A’ and note how you feel with this decision. After a few hours, then switch and live as though ‘I have taken choice B’ and note how that makes you feel. This method can be very helpful and can easily be used by children – it just requires imagination and we know they have an abundance of that!
- Help them identify what brings them satisfaction and contentment – I distinguish here between immediate happiness as there are plenty of things in the world that we believe will make us happy when in fact they are momentary hits of adrenalin. It’s a conversation along the lines of, ‘How did it make you feel when you ……?’ It’s an opportunity to discover the self and that is always the basis for designing your own life.
- Encourage them to centre in their hearts rather than their heads when making decisions. What seems like the logical answer is not always what will bring us to a place of contentment
For all of us, living by our ‘why’ brings us closer to living mindfully. It helps us make decisions and brings deep personal satisfaction and contentment, adults and children alike.