I was just thinking again about Ukraine and all of those who have lost their lives for something that was even more important—something larger than the self—the love of country and human freedom. What an amazing thing it is to witness such a strong sense of purpose in the face of the greatest cruelty and evil.
A sense of purpose is one of the most important predictors of human happiness. Finding one’s purpose can be the work of a lifetime. It is not just about what one can accomplish, but it is about finding the unique gift we each have in our power to give and to give it.
One of the reasons retirement is such a challenge for many is that the purpose of a career or lifework must be laid aside to reveal a deeper purpose that is not dependent on a workplace. It is in retirement that many people find their deeper purpose in reaching out to do what they really have always wanted to do. For some the gift becomes volunteering for a cause. For some, the gift is time given to family and friends. For others it is simply giving the gift of demonstrating courage and joy.
The words of Shakespeare’s Juliet came into my mind today as I was thinking about Ukraine and the many who have died there in their homeland. “And when he shall die (Romeo), take him and cut him out in little stars. And he will make the face of heaven so fine that the world will fall in love with the night and pay no worship to the garish sun.” Every life can be this—a tiny star that prevails—no matter what kind of garish sun is in the sky. The Ukranians are showing this to us.