Millions of Americans are in their mid-life years, but more and more I’ve come to see a common thread woven through the hearts of many: we are asking ourselves, “Does my life have purpose?” There is something about that 50th birthday rolling around (ok 40-somethings, you may be feeling it too) that causes us to question: “Am I on the right road?”
In the search for meaning there are commonalities, but it is such an individual journey. For example, someone who lived with a carefree, “for-the-moment” spirit in earlier years may now be seeking a life they feel has real impact on the world around them, while one who engaged in activities during earlier life that they felt were very meaningful, such as a parent raising children, may be looking for ways to bring back the purpose they felt they once had.
Adding depth to this process of figuring out our role and niche is an ongoing unfolding of understanding about our inner selves and who we really are. Sometimes we may feel alone in our journey, but I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone will ponder the following at some point during their mid-life years:
“Am I really where I am supposed to be?”
“I’m living with the consequences of things I did long ago.”
“I thought my life would have turned out differently.”
“I’ve been living by a set of rules that I’m not sure serve me anymore.”
If you are seeking greater meaning in your life, you might need to ponder quite deeply, as the answer may not readily come in places you might first think to look. Why is that?
We live in an enlightened age where phrases like “50 is the new 40,” have become the norm. But while you spend your summer hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and being the envy of friends who see your social media posts, it could be that you still feel an inner longing, a feeling that something just isn’t quite right. In these instances one should consider thoughtfully what they can bring into their life, to set that feeling right.
Each person has a calling that is meaningful to them. For one, it could be a journey of the inner self, facing a fear or obstacle that kept them hostage for years; for another, an outer journey of travel or adventure.
Perhaps it is connecting more deeply with the people who are most important, or increasing one’s devotion to their spiritual practices.
Another’s fulfillment may come from engaging in a philanthropic cause, or perhaps simply found in an activity they had no idea they would love – but do.
These are just a few examples of possibilities. Finding what is right for us, and implementing it into our lives, can make all the difference in our level of joy.
Wherever we’ve been, whatever our story is now, if greater meaning and purpose is what we are seeking, it can be found. We belong to a vast community of others who totally get where we’re at, because they are there too. So if we reach out to share our story, we will likely find a willing listener and, someone who would love to share theirs as well. So take heart; we are on this road together. If we keep at it, we will find the meaning we are looking for.
Cindy works as an employment development counselor, and is a mother and grandmother. She has lived in Sonoma County for 28 years.