Why Are You Here? Why Are You Here?
When I ask this question, I’m not inquiring why you are in the location you’re in, or why you are in the city you’re in, or even why you are in whatever country you’re in.
I ask the question, because I’m wondering why you exist at all? In the fall of 2003, I released a book I wrote called The Why Are You Here Café. It is a fiction story of a man who wanders into an all night café and is surprised to find three questions on a menu. Why Are You Here? Do You Fear Death? Are You Fulfilled?
After releasing the book, I started to get requests from readers asking if I would be interested in speaking at their companies and organizations. This was a good thing in that one of my major goals in life is to help people live the life of their dreams. Writing the book was a big piece of that, and certainly speaking to groups would be another piece.
Unfortunately though, I was a little stumped about what I would talk about. I couldn’t just go up in front of a group and recite the book, and I didn’t want to pull significant pieces out of the book and talk about them because that would spoil the book for people who hadn’t read it. After giving the matter some serious thought, I came up with a speech that is related to the book, but not so related that it gives the book away. I call it “Ten Tips for Living the Life of Your Dreams.”
It is a speech I have given many times now, and has even become the catalyst for one and two day workshops I offer that helps people figure out what is the life of their dreams, and what would it take to enable them to live it. In response to requests from people who had heard the speech, I created this article, which gives the text of the ten tips.
I am not so arrogant now, nor was I when I wrote the speech, to think that I have the answer to how anyone except for me should live their life. I do know though, that there are certain things I’ve learned that help me think about life in a different way. There are things that I wish I had learned earlier in life, things that I reflect on often and that continually give me a boost and help me on my journey to achieve the life of my dreams.
My hope is that in sharing those things with you, they will in some way assist you on your journey to live the life of your dreams. So with that as a prelude, I present to you, Ten Tips for Living the Life of Your Dreams.
1. Know your Purpose For Existing (PFE), or at least be looking.
Most lists start from the bottom and work their way up so that the most impactful one is at the end. You can’t do that with this list, because the first one is too important. All else flows from it Your Purpose For Existing is exactly what it says. It is the reason you exist, the reason you are alive. It is the answer to the question I asked you at the start of this article. Why Are You Here? Your PFE is like your own personal compass for life. Should you go to New York City and become a commodities trader? Go back to your PFE. Why are you here? Should you travel the world as a peace corp. volunteer? Go back to your PFE. Why are you here? Should you stay in a relationship you’ve been questioning? Go back to your PFE. Why are you here?
In addition to taking a great deal of the stress out of decision making, it also takes a lot of the anxiety out of everyday life. You don’t have to justify to yourself or anyone else why you do what you do. You know the answer. You meet someone and they say, “Hi, what do you do?” You respond, “Oh, I teach yoga,” or “I’m an insurance salesperson,” or “I’m a chiropractor.” “Interesting,” they say, “what made you go into that line of work. “Well, it helps fulfill my Purpose For Existing,” you respond. Wow! That is a powerful statement.
You do what you do because it helps you fulfill the exact reason you exist. It doesn’t get much simpler, or more powerful than that. Know your Purpose For Existing (PFE) or at least be looking.
2. Fear is a terrible thing, don’t let it control your life.
Someone once told me a great quote about trying something new. He said he had been battling with fear for a long time until one day his friend told him, “Listen, realistically what’s the worst that could happen.” I think that is great comment to remember. We are often paralyzed into non-action by the concern that something drastic might happen. But the reality is that almost any decision we make or action we take can be changed if we don’t like the outcome. We can almost always go back to whatever it was we were doing before we tried something new. Furthermore, what are the odds that the “worst thing” will happen?
I’ll share with you a personal story. Fear is something I used to have an ongoing battle with. I feared failure, and I feared success. Now that puts you in a pretty interesting predicament. You don’t try things that you aren’t totally sure you will succeed at, and the things you do try, you stop just before you are going to be fantastically successful. When you let something like that control your life, you end up missing out on most of the things you want to do.
My major “Aha” moment which enabled me to get past my fears, came one day when I suddenly realized that there are very few things that have not already been done by at least one, and probably thousands of people. Certainly everything I was attempting, other people had already tried and succeeded at. Well heck, I thought. If they could do it, so can I. In 2002 my wife and I backpacked around the world. Using a combination of bus, train, horse, plane, car, elephant, bicycle, scooter, pick-up truck, camel and an assortment of other transport including our own two feet, we covered over 70,000 miles, which is almost three times the circumference of the earth.
This was something that I had wanted to do since 1997. When you don’t know anything about embarking on such a journey it seems like a very daunting task. How will I find places to stay in other countries? What happens when I can’t communicate with anyone because we don’t speak the same language? What should I do if I get sick, or if I’m attacked by muggers? How can I be sure the plane won’t crash?
In the past, these concerns and thousands of others that I would have come up with, would have been more than enough to keep me from going. But the reality is that tens of thousands of other people have traveled the world. They are people just like me, and they figured out a way to get around. So I thought to myself, if they could do it so can I.
It is likely that whatever you are trying to accomplish in life, someone, at some point in history, at some spot in the world, did it, and proved it could be done. If they could do it, so can you. Don’t let fear control your life.
3. Either we can live as a speck of meaningless existence, or we can live a life of meaning.
Have you ever been somewhere on a very clear night when you could get a great look at the stars? You were in a place nice and dark without any local lights distracting your eyes. How many stars do you think you could see with your naked eye when you looked across the whole sky? It seemed like millions I bet. The sky seemed just packed with stars. Well, the reality is that the immense quantity of stars you see on a totally clear night when there is no outside light is actually about 3,000.
To put that number in perspective, keep in mind that in our galaxy alone, there are 100 billion stars. 100 BILLION STARS!!! Now, our star, which is the sun, has 9 planets and 54 moons that rotate around it. Using our star as a proxy, that means there are 6.3 TRILLION stars, planets, and moons floating around in our solar system. So what you see on a perfectly clear night, that immense amount of stars and space, is around .00000005% of everything in our galaxy. Amazing isn’t it. Now consider this. That is just our galaxy. Do you know how many galaxies there are? Scientists estimate there are over 500 million of them.
So here we are, living on a single planet that is just one of the very large number you get when you multiply 6.3 trillion times 500 million. That can make you feel pretty small, especially when you consider that each of us is just one of almost 6.3 billion people that live on this planet.
So with all that as perspective, how important are our individual lives in comparison to the entire universe? It is pretty easy to see how someone could think that they are just a speck of meaningless existence. Certainly we are all just specks in the big picture. But suppose we aren’t meaningless. Suppose there is a specific purpose that each of us is here, a reason that we exist right now that goes beyond just sperm met egg and nine months later out popped a little you or me. I believe there is a reason.
I believe we each have a specific Purpose For Existing, or PFE as I like to refer to it. My suggestion is, find that purpose. Fulfill that purpose.
I’ve had people say to me, “But what if you are wrong?” “What if I think I have a PFE, and I live my life like I do, but I really am just a speck of meaningless existence?” My reply to that is always the same. If we find what we think is our very purpose for being alive, our purpose for existing, and we live a life to fulfill it, then by default, we will have given meaning to our life. What has meaning, can no longer be meaningless.