By Thomas McGreevy.
Someone very close to me started a business recently and it gave me the opportunity to witness a significant shift in her posture, a shift that I think we all could use.
This person has always been a hard worker and never shied away from responsibility, but I don’t think she found much satisfaction in her work before she started the business. I noticed how she would spend the small spaces of free time she had looking for ways to make her life better or more enjoyable. This often took the form of browsing around in search of something interesting to buy or planning some kind of home improvement project that would revitalize her living space. There is nothing wrong with these activities by the way, but no purchase or enhancement brought lasting satisfaction.
One day she discovered a craft that she enjoyed and that she was really good at. There was nothing obvious to be gained by pursuing it, but it was clear to me that she loved it. She started spending her free time immersed in this craft and eventually began giving her work away. People were truly inspired by her art and a small group of “fans” quickly formed.
Today, she has a successful business with a substantial following of admirers and customers. Recently she started a new initiative where she gives her work to children who are dealing with really difficult circumstances and she uses the opportunity to tell their story. Her focus has turned from what she might consume that could enhance her life, to making art and giving it to people who appreciate it. She is doing work that matters. She is more alive now than I have ever seen her before.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman
People have an insatiable appetite for something offered from another person’s heart. We are thirsty for it. Our natural impulse is to go and search for it so that we can acquire it and consume it. This consumption-based pursuit of happiness is common these days. I think we all know just how frustrating and disappointing it is. I’m beginning to realize that offering something of your own is the most satisfying thing you can do. The world is thirsty for it and you were designed to give it.
Begin pursuing what’s in your heart and find a way to give it to the world.
I can’t tell what that thing is but I know it is in you and I know that the world needs it. It could be encouragement, insight, your beauty, your art, a story, your experience, a recommendation. Begin giving and I think you will find ravenous people coming back for more.
This kind of giving, from your heart, is where real satisfaction lies.
By the way, the person I am referring to above is my wife. She is a fantastic cake designer and she is constantly finding new ways to touch people with her art. Check her out at mcgreevycakes.com/blog. I am confident that her “McGreevy Cakes With Love” initiative is going to have a huge impact!
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It always inspires me to hear about someone pursuing a dream, Thomas, so thanks for sharing this story about your wife. We can easily over think what we should do in life, when it often turns out better to just listen to your heart and follow the feelings. That’s just what I think when reading the Howard Thurman quote, because the world does need “people who have come alive.” Let’s all listen to our hearts and pursue the dreams that wake up our souls!
Yes, lets! Well said Dr. Mike.
This was such an encouraging article. So pleased that I chose to read it on this day, as I just put up a very small book on Amazon (“Fried Blue Potatoes”) and your saying “people have an insatiable appetite for something offered from another’s heart” made my own heart leap in response, because the sentence resonated with me so beautifully…and the response to the book has been heartwarming! (It was written from what I’d like to think as a “listening heart”)…
I’m glad you found this post encouraging Charlene! I’m glad to hear you are offering your gift to the world, it is sorely needed!
Thanks for this powerful message. We all have gifts to give to the world. Right now, I’m writing about a teenager who can’t find hers, but it’s there.
That’s what I like about the Howard Thurman quote Lynn. Many people, myself included, work so hard find their gift that they forget to ask themselves “what makes me come alive”. Whatever that is, we need to go do it.
Interesting post, Thomas. I agree that the world needs more people who have come alive. However, the world is full of people who come alive doing things that at best don’t do much to affect others or advance humanity in any significant way. For instance, professional athletes can inspire people in many ways. But, is this necessarily the best use of someone’s life? The answer depends on the person and where they are in their personal growth. For some, it may be spot on. For others, it may be a distraction from something else that they could be doing, even if it seems easy and comes to them naturally.
I believe we need to be mindful of the needs of the world AND to come alive by doing what we love. There’s a delicate balance there in that we won’t do something unless it brings us joy and fulfillment, while we won’t really give back much if it’s only about us. Although every little thing counts, I feel that most of us are capable of much, much more if you consider our society and the problems it faces.
You make an interesting point Jack.
I believe that there is something intrinsically valuable and specific within each person, and that the world benefits if they choose to give it. An apple tree produces apples and the more it gives the more the world benefits. If an apple tree paused and decided to try and figure out what the world needed most we might end up with a pile of firewood and lose out on years of fresh fruit.