A number of people have talked to me about how difficult they find this time in history. The political upheaval, lack of civil discourse, widening disparity in wealth, increases in violent events, rapid changes at work, at home and at church – all have people reeling.  The passage of time and the pace of life both feel faster and faster.

How do we deal? There is a straightforward but not simple answer: Align with purpose. Yup, that’s it. Let’s take a closer look:

First, let’s define what we mean by “purpose.” Purpose is what fires you. Why are you here? Each of us has a purpose. We may choose to embrace it or not embrace it. Some people ask – you mean my work or personal life one? To us, they are the same. If you articulate the one for you, how you live your life, what you do, with whom you live, will all make a lot of sense. If not, they all seem a bit jumbled. This is another good reason to ask yourself the “my purpose question.” People living in line with their purpose find life is easier – less conflicted and certainly less tortured. Some people find themselves living out some debt or responsibility. If this isn’t connected at the purpose-level, it can be “soul-sucking.” If that is a term new to you, trust me, it’s bad.

So what are we to do? First, stop the madness! Find a way to stop  – “get on the balcony,” find margin, call a time-out. Some way you have to find a reflective moment free of the pressing demands causing you the distress. Some people seek sanctuary in a quiet place – a church, a park, beach or the woods. When you find your place just give yourself a moment to let the noise in your head die down. Put aside your obligations, commitments, pressures and ask yourself this question:

“What am I doing here on Earth?”

This is a serious question. You are not here by accident. You have a purpose. When have you felt at your peak? When did things just roll for you? Who or what is generating those moments of fulfillment you can recall? Think of times, places, and people with whom you have experienced your highest highs. What do those moments have in common? What does it say about you and what you were meant to do or be?

This may take a couple of tries. The refuge you seek is in finding your purpose and living into it. Personally, I had to fail a number of times before I found what I was meant to do. (Still working on how I am supposed to be.) I would call myself “consciously incompetent’ at this point. It isn’t about “figuring it out.” It is about being open to the possibility that the learning continues.

I hope something similar for you.