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“Let go of expectations and liberate your life. Only from your freedom can you free others,” says the highly acclaimed author Dan Millman who has written a series of books on the theme of purposeful living. Some excerpts from his writings…

I  once believed that our most fundament human desire is happiness. And that all our searches, high and low, whether for spiritual illumination or material possessions, are ultimately directed toward that sense of fulfillment, satisfaction --happiness. I no longer believe this to be true. After all, is the end-point of human evolution, and all our quests, represented by walking around with goofy grins on our faces? No, I think what we seek, most fundamentally, is meaning, purpose, direction, and connection. As George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "Never mind likes or dislikes; just do what needs to be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness." Five of my books, in particular, address the topic of purpose, each in its own unique way.

Purposeful living embraces both reason and faith. Reason provides clear goals, while faith and intuition teach us to trust the process of our lives. The Taoist sages remind us that flexibility overcomes rigidity—and just as a rushing stream flows around obstacles, so must our purposes adapt to the changing tides of life. In living on purpose and acting on principle we become like bamboo—strong yet supple—yielding to the forces we encounter, then snapping back on track.

Our world contains both beauty and ugliness, kindness and cruelty. The question is, where shall we fix our attention? As an anonymous poet once wrote, “Two men looked out of prison bars; one saw mud and the other saw stars.”

Even as you empathise with humanity’s growing pains, let the beauty, hope and humour in this world soothe the wounds of your sensitive heart. We see things not as they are,  but as we are. If we view the world only through the filter of our ideals, it will never measure up.

The fact that shadows exist in the world and in ourselves, should not blind us to the light. As much as we might wish it otherwise, the world unfolds as it will. All we can do is raise our vision to find purpose in our growing pains.

Meanwhile, take heart from what heroism and compassion you may find, and let these examples sustain you amidst the news of atrocities, war, and human folly. Hardship is part of life- but whether you view it as tragic or heroic, grotesque or purposeful, depends on your perspective. Your mind can make meaning or madness, light a candle or curse the darkness- the choice is yours. You can’t heal the world’s suffering, only your own. Accept life on its own terms. If you want a kinder world, then behave with kindness; if you want a peaceful world, make peace within. Your suffering serves no one. So let go of expectations and liberate your life. Only from your freedom can you free others.

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