Article Title: Sharing Some Musings on "the Meaning of Life and Choosing one's Path in Life" (from ''Steps to Success, Prosperity and Happiness'')
Author: Craig Lock
Category (key words): Self Help, Personal Growth, Success, Success Principles, Motivation, Inspiration, Positive Thinking, Books, Self help books and Positive Psychology (enough there now, craig!)

Web sites: www.lulu.com/craiglock and http://www.creativekiwis.com/books.html#craig

Craig's blog (with extracts from his various writings: articles, books and new manuscripts) is at
http://en.search.wordpress.com/?q=%22craig+lock%22 and
http://craiglock.wordpress.com

Other Articles are available at:
http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/user/15565 and
http://www.ideamarketers.com/library/profile.cfm?writerid=981
(Personal growth,
self help, writing, internet marketing, spiritual, 'spiritual writings' (how 'airey-fairey'), words of inspiration and money management, how boring now, craig!)

We hope that the following article (an extract from one of Craig's first manuscripts ("rather wacky") titled 'STEPS TO SUCCESS, PROSPERITY AND HAPPINESS' written "many moons ago" may be informative and helpful to your ezine readers, or on your web site. If it helps others "out there" on the pathway to success (and most importantly, happiness), then we're very happy. We share what we know, so that we all may grow."

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THE MEANING OF LIFE ... AND CHOOSING ONE'S PATH IN LIFE

"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty to be happy."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

"Life is a daring adventure, or nothing."
- Helen Keller

"I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I've got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations."
- George Bernard Shaw

Introduction:

In this article I am sharing some deep thoughts in the form of a "rather sane and thoughtful" extract from the first chapter of my very "wacky") manuscript 'STEPS TO SUCCESS, PROSPERITY AND HAPPINESS', which was written "many many moons" ago...
early in my writing "career". I hope that these "somewhat light-hearted" thoughts and quotations may be interesting, informative, enlightening, uplifting and perhaps even inspirational to you (as though having fun, they were to me when researching and writing these words encouraged me to embark on this unchartered path all those long years ago).

The "secrets" by someone who thinks he has now found them - by "throwing a double six", at long last - after many, many years of "sliding down the razor blade of life". Also after having had many detours and come to numerous 'cul-de-sacs' (dead ends) along the long and windy road that is life. Up hill and down dale, no - rather up mountain and down valley - that is the story of my life.

'Steps to Success...' is written for the ordinary "bloke" or woman in the street...

"The longest journey is the journey inward, for he who has chosen
his destiny has started upon his quest for the source of his
being."
- Dag Hammerskjold, Swedish or Danish politician and United Nations Official, killed in an air accident many years ago.

"You will become as great as your dominant aspiration...
If you cherish a vision, a lofty ideal in your heart, you will realise it."
- James Allen in 'As a Man Thinketh' (Allen has a number of wonderful quotations which you will come across in this work. I think/ "metinks" he was an American psychologist).

"Destiny is not a matter of chance; It's a matter of choice.
It is not a thing to be waited for; It is a thing to be achieved."
- William Jennings Bryan

I write this as I contemplate life after going for a long solitary walk along magnificent Makorori beach up the coast from Gisborne on the East coast of New Zealand's North Island. The stunning scenery never fails to inspire me in my writing. The beauty of New Zealand is great for writers (although there are no unique tax advantages, as in Ireland). No wonder that country produces so many renowned writers. Here are some of my thoughts, not that I'm one of those dreamy philosophical types, mind you (although I'm rather impractical, but I have a go at anything anyway). Too much of an 'ACTION MAN' perhaps - the reason why I get into so many 'scrapes' and 'hairy' situations!

Your life is a precious gift, so make the most of it. Just being alive to experience the joys of life is something so easy to take for granted. Think about this: In exchange for appreciating the beauty of living, ask yourself what contribution can you make to the world? How can you create meaning and purpose in whatever life hands you?

"Every great and commanding movement in the arenas of the world are the triumph of enthusiasm. To try and fail is at least to learn, to fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been."
- R.W. Emerson. (Emerson was a famous American philosopher who wrote a great many words of wisdom).

At least I tried to do it my way (not Frank Sinatra's) with ENTHUSIASM. Yes enthusiasm, together with the "other E's", energy and excitement, is the key. I think. That (enthusiasm) is probably my one saving grace that gets me through life! And also a positive attitude to keep bouncing back after being floored to the canvas (at least usually)...
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The Meaning and Purpose of Life:

There are eight aspects of life which are vital to maintain our emotional health and ultimately allow us to survive life's trials and tribulations. But they also allow us to experience to the fullest the joys and beauty of life. The four basic elements, I believe, are as follows:

1. Your self image. This is vital!

2. Your inner strength or character.

3. Living with absolute INTEGRITY - just being totally yourself!

4. Your personal control or self discipline. Attitude and YOUR view of reality.

5. The meaning of life... as you perceive I t- that is having a sense of PURPOSE.
What motivates you, what presses your "hot buttons". What drives you? Ford, Chevrolet, Lincoln or Toyota?

6. This involves setting meaningful goals for your life and deriving satisfaction from moving toward these "stepping stones", your guideposts along the pathway of life...and take great pleasure from achieving your dominant goals! It is open to each individual to choose the goal and go after it - doing this develops the growth and human essence known as character (see point 2). What "desires of the soul" do you have?

7 ("lucky"). intelligence (also emotional)

and finally... and most importantly...

8. Your faith or spiritual element in your life, ie. your
relationship with a Supreme Being, a Higher Power, if you believe in one, that is. Success lies in the "Being" and "Becoming" all that you can possibly be and not necessarily in the "doing". It just takes decision (often big ones) and commitment.
Enjoying life (could be the meaning of it ) is found in a success consciousness, or our patterns of thinking.

We'll go into some more of this "heavy stuff" later.

A question to "kick off": Why do you work? What are your life-time goals? What do you stand for? What do you want your children to tell their children about you? What do I want written on my tombstone after my death? A "nutter", "wise", giving, helping others, "an incorrigible encourager" ??? How do I fit into my family, my company, my profession, my community, my country, the world?... What is my purpose in life? What meaning does my life have?

... and most importantly, WHO AM I (and this is not what you DO for a living, eg. plumber, nurse, doctor, writer, etc)?

No matter how small and insignificant you may think you are in the scheme of things, you can find some new meaning and purpose in your life. What's your reason for being here on this planet? Not just taking up space, or in-taking oxygen, please!

You may be asking yourself this rather profound question for some time, nevertheless. It could be just waiting for you to exploit your hidden talents and to make your little mark. You can make a difference to the world by putting your unique stamp - a little bit of you on it. I truly believe
every one of us can do that, as every person has some unique gift to share with the world.

Remember the man without purpose is like a ship without a rudder. Norman Vincent Peale* said the following wise words:

"Everyone can put to good use their own little bits of time, talent, influence, ambition, energy and weave them into lives of beauty,
of goodness and rare value." ...and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

* A Christian minister and author of 'The Power of Positive Thinking' and numerous other books. A very good man and excellent writer.

Life is a matter of CHOICES and DECISIONS.
Some years ago I decided to attempt to be a writer of "inspirational material" with an aim to help and encourage others. So...

* Who and what do you really want to be?

* If money were no object, what would I really love to do with my life?
Be a writer!
"You crazy fool. Get a proper job, man!"
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YOUR VALUES:

Your grand purpose in life will stem from your unique personality and your innermost values. This is what you really believe are the foundations to your life - the deepest thoughts of your innermost being. These are very personal and intimate: they are your hopes, beliefs, dreams and innermost thoughts about life. They will determine the patterns of your thoughts and consequently your actions (thought is the seed/source of action). Your values clarify what you want in your life and how to create it. They will determine your life goals. In my previous "career" I had a great conflict of values between making money through sales and my broader humanitarian
instincts (now I'm doing both - funny the way life turns out!). I definitely don't like the corporate emphasis purely on monetary profit (ie. results and sales). On analysing and writing down my values, I found a clear path ahead to put them into practice and to achieve what I saw as my purpose in life. I also tried to tie them into my great interests (like sport)...and passions through my writings. In my present work I hope to be of help to others and this gives me great satisfaction. The 'hustle and bustle' and 'ego-tripping'/'empire-building' of the corporate world gave me minimal satisfaction; so I'm very pleased to be out of it. That is as long as I can still make a living doing it my way...
We'll see what happens!
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A final thought (or two)...
Perhaps there is no ONE answer to the meaning of life. Perhaps , like the definition of success, it's a personal "thing" (perspective) and depends on individual outlooks to life.

Aim not at success, but significance...through adding value to others lives.

Perhaps the meaning of life lies in challenging the human spirit (unquenchable and indomitable) in overcoming adversity, to TEST and expand it beyond our perceived horizons. Enrich the life spirit given you.

In your life will you have made YOUR spark glow more brightly?

Craig Lock ("Incorrigible Encourager/People-builder, Information and Inspiration distributor")

"For me true success may be measured by the fortitude, with which so many ordinary people around the globe overcome numerous
seemingly insurmountable obstacles through sheer force of character and indomitable spirit. They rise above the severest adversity down the often rocky journey of life. Unheralded, yet with an unquenchable and infinite generosity of human spirit, these are lives of greatness and souls who are the true heroes of this world."
- Craig Lock (13th August 2004)

"God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into the world with a different collection of life circumstances that often severely challenge us, things that give us joy and in expressing our talents allow us to bless the people, the world around us."
- craig

"Our Greatest Good is perhaps not to achieve wealth and share our material possessions, our money and 'riches' with others, but through encouragement and faith in other people, to lay the firm foundation of revealing the rich treasure that lies within themselves."
- craig

"The task ahead of you can always be overcome by the power within you...and the often seemingly difficult or even
"impassible") path ahead of you is never as steep with the great spirit that lies within you.

- craig

Together, one mind at a time, let's see how many people we can impact, empower, uplift, encourage and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials.

PS: I love the following quotation...

"The past is history, the future is a mystery, and this moment is
the gift, that is why this moment is called the present."
- anon

"We make a living by what we get...but we make a life by what we give."
- Norman MacEwan

Author's Bio: 

About the author:
In his mission of studying the workings of the human mind, Craig hopes to help, encourage, motivate, uplift and perhaps even inspire people to be their best through realising their full potentials and have fun at the same time.
http://members.tripod.com/~lock77/ www.craiglockbooks.com and www.selfgrowth.com/experts/craig_lock.html

The various books that Craig "felt inspired to write" are available at
www.lulu.com/craiglock and http://www.creativekiwis.com/books.html#craig

Hard-copies and e-books, fiction and nonfiction: self help, novels, travel, humour, writing, inspiration and money management

All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children - MINE!

"A book is small enough to hold in your hand; but when you read it, the walls fall away and you're in a room as big as the world."

Craig's blog (with extracts from his various writings: articles, books and new manuscripts) is at
http://en.search.wordpress.com/?q=%22craig+lock%22 and http://craiglock.wordpress.com