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For most of my life, I lived in darkness. I lived a life void of purpose and meaning. I chased outward success and thought that material possessions and achievements would bring me the life of happiness and joy I craved.

But I was wrong.

As the recipient of horrific bullying in middle school, I lost nearly all of my self-worth. My confidence had been so badly bruised and I thought that the only way to regain self-esteem was by attaining outward material success. And that is how I lived my life for two and a half decades.

I was out to prove the bullies wrong, that I was not the loser they said I was, and thought material possessions would be proof of my success, thus restoring my self-worth that had been stripped away from me years earlier.

The problem with this though was that I defined my existence through the eyes of the ego, as so many people tend to do.

And when we look at life through the lens of the ego, we measure our value from three pivotal viewpoints. First, what we have. Second, what we do. Third, what other people say about us.

The ego loves labels. And we fall victim to believing these definitions and living our life according to them. This inevitably leads to a life void of purpose and meaning. In fact, this will prevent us from ever discovering our true life’s calling 100% of the time.

For most of my life, that’s exactly what I did. I lived my life according to these definitions and labels. The problem was that each time I succeeded by material standards, I was left feeling even worse than before. My successes came and went. They were always fleeting because success gained on the competitive plane of existence is rarely, if ever,  permanent.

My life lacked meaning and purpose. It lacked pure joy. It lacked time with those I love.

And I reached a point where I just knew there had to be more to life than this. As a result, I started out on a quest to find out who I truly was and what I was put on this earth to do. I started questioning my very existence and in the process discovered many truths that were previously lying dormant in my soul.

See, I spent my whole life trying to BE ACCOMPLISHED until I decided to BE FREE.

What I discovered is that each of us comes into this life with a purpose, a dharma, and it is up to us to find out what that dharma is.

It is up to us to find out what we signed up for when we came into this human life. All too often people get sidetracked. They get stuck living a life they don’t love void of meaning and purpose. And then it’s too late.

Imagine if tomorrow was your last day on earth.  Could you comfortably say that you fulfilled your destiny? Or would you be filled with regret that you never did or accomplished what you really wanted to – what they knew you could do, what you know you were meant to do?

In her book entitled, “The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying,” palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware,  interviewed her patients who were on their deathbed, literally, and asked them if they had any regrets.

The number one regret that most people had time and time again was not living up to their full potential and following their dreams.

And this is what “Don’t die with your music still inside of you” means, and that’s why living a purpose-filled life is so important

But what if you don’t know what your dharma is? How do you find out? Where do you being?

I have identified a three-step process to discovering your dharma and living a purpose-filled life.

Step 1: Turn Inward

To begin, you must first turn inward and connect to your true essence.

Discovering your dharma is an inward process. It must come to you rather than you going and finding it somewhere else, somewhere outside of yourself. The best way I know how to do this is to meditate. You must quiet the chit-chat of your own inner dialogue and let Spirit, Source Energy, the Divine, speak TO you.

When you listen to the Universe you will always be led in the right direction. It’s when we think we are smarter than Spirit that we run into problems. And when we meditate, transcend to Source, and allow Source to speak to us, many of our questions are answered.

Step 2:  Surrender

Second, you must surrender to the care of the Universe and let the Universe lead the way. In doing so you can feel confident knowing the answer will come to you.

“If you knew. If you knew who walked beside you at all times on this path that you have chosen, you could never experience doubt or fear again” says a Course in Miracles.

So be gentle about it. Don’t try to force it. Be gentle with yourself and let go and surrender.

Step 3: Enjoy the journey!

It’s all part of your Divine plan and the journey can be just as fun as the actual discovery itself if you allow it to be.

Remember the wise words of Buddha who said, “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”