by Dr. Jean Houston

3 Keys to Activating Your Life PurposeAs I travel around the globe speaking and training, I have consistently found most people ask me the same question, “How do I discover my purpose in life?” In the past, who you became was determined by your family and circumstances. You didn’t have much choice. But now there is an open moment in history where you have the chance to tap into the soul of your purpose.

Millions of people right now are experiencing a yearning and desire to awaken their unique gifts and offer them in service to the world—all while living a life of joy and fulfillment. It’s a surging of the human spirit, a virtual global awakening, at a scale that no one has ever seen before. Simply put, people are longing to finally feel fully alive and to fulfill their unique purpose in life.

So then why is living a life of meaning and purpose so difficult? It is because our current social systems have not been set up to prepare us to live a life of true purpose. That’s because today’s culture exists not to nurture our highest aspirations, but to ensure our basic survival.

Our educational system is designed to create good workers who will slot into jobs and careers later in life—not to empower fiery, creative people who are forging the path ahead together. Our social contracts exist to perpetuate the status quo—not to encourage our highest potentials to blossom. Is it any wonder why so many of our best attempts to evolve ourselves and our culture fall short of the goal? We simply haven’t been trained in how to bring the possible future into the present.

It’s not that we don’t have the talent or interest to live a purposeful, meaningful life. The issue is far simpler. People struggle to activate their “purpose code” because they haven’t woken up to—or are only partially awake to—our situation as a human race. Most people hold on to old, limiting beliefs of themselves and our human story. Overwhelmed by all the changes in the world around them, most people live their lives within a “small story,” and therefore confine themselves to a “small self.” That’s why so many people feel they don’t have a purpose or that they aren’t able to actually live the life they were born to live.

There is a saying that, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” I believe it is butterfly time. Just as the guidance cells in the mush that is the caterpillar in its cocoon suddenly begin to activate the transformation of mush into butterfly, so too is the time when we realize that the guidance, or imaginal, cells of our bodies, our communities and even of the cells of our planet are calling us to come together in all our parts to form something gorgeous, interdependent, living lightly on the Earth, cross pollinating cultures, ideas, spiritual forms and glowing with the light that suffuses us, becoming transparent to transcendence. And to rise out of the mush, we have been caught in these many hundreds of years and take flight in the air of the new story that is emerging in our time.

As the butterfly pollinates and cross pollinates from place to place, flower to flower, so do we if we have the will and the willingness to discover our purpose and be part of this extraordinary moment in time.

Three keys to empowering new beliefs

The first key to activating your life’s purpose is to hold new beliefs about yourself and your role in where humanity is headed.

Living a great life requires you to understand the challenges and opportunities of our moment in history. To understand this for myself, I’ve gathered information from my work in more than 100 countries and 40 different cultures. What I’ve discovered has served as a sure guide on my path. Specifically, I have found five great shifts in our understanding of the story of our time that affect everything we do today. I believe that awakening to the power of these shifts will help you cultivate your sense of compassion and the infinite possibilities of this moment.

The five shifts are:

• Our understanding of who and what we are and what we need to become in order to be able to deal with the complexity of our time is evolving.

• Human societies are in the process of re-patterning. Social constructs are dissolving and whole new stories are trying to emerge, such as the rise of women to a full partnership with men across the globe, and many others.

• How we conduct business and governance is shifting in the midst of vast ecological and financial changes. This is perhaps the most important social event of the last 5,000 years, because these issues impact almost everything in our lives.

• The rise and fusion of different cultures. We are swiftly moving toward a planetary civilization that accentuates the uniqueness of each culture while blending them together. Think of the great fusions of food and of music and of beliefs.

• Whole new orders of spirituality are emerging that are not about religion. The new cosmologies are giving us a view of ourselves that we never had before. For the first time ever, we find we don’t just live in the universe, but that the universe lives in us.

• This journey begins by letting go of old beliefs and patterns to make room for the new beliefs and capacities that will empower you to awaken to and live your higher purpose.

The second key allows you to discover and realize the vast field of inner intelligences—using multiple means of knowing and being in order to gain insight into life at a level to which most people rarely have access. These skills are to be found on four levels of your human capacity: sensory-physical, psychological-emotional, mythic-symbolic and unitive-spiritual. As you learn how to utilize the extraordinary capacities to be found at each of these levels, you will move into new ways of being.

For example, you will learn how to play with time in such a way as to take five minutes and experience it internally as hours—these are “hours” you can use to develop a skill or move a project forward. You will learn to access “inner experts,” willing helpers or personas that will help you navigate the complexity of life with elegance and confidence.

The third key gives you the means to break free from unconscious, habitual ways of reacting to life that were born thousands of years ago, and embrace higher ways of being for a new era. You will discover ways to move through life with ebullience in your bones and an appetite for celebration. You will move through life, motivated not by guilt or obligation, but by gratitude and an abiding zest for doing the things that are called forth by living out your higher purpose.

Dr. Jean Houston is a scholar, philosopher and visionary thinker. She is considered one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement. A powerful and dynamic speaker, she has served as consultant to several agencies of the United Nations, including UNICEF and the UNDP. She has worked in more than 100 countries, training leadership at every level to enhance skills and purpose so as to bring a new mind to bear upon challenging issues. A prolific writer and author of 26 books including A Passion for the Possible and The Mythic Life, Houston recently joined the faculty of Evolving Wisdom, today’s fastest-growing global e-learning company specializing in transformative education, to provide her wisdom online in a cutting-edge format.