What if purpose becomes the foundation for all that you do? What if, when all is said and done, the only deciding factor in your life is you?
I attended the Life Is Beautiful festival where 18-year-old Claire Winland delivered a speech so electric, it sent jolts of energy through the audience.
"We live in a society that benefits from us continuously looking for happiness. When we say, 'No, we're not looking out there for happiness, we are alive. That is beautiful and that is all we need,' [then] we are beating the system." In agreement I exhaled. The crowd exploded with applause. My heart ruptured with gratitude and Claire stood there with a mic in hand and an oxygen tank attached.
The young lady spoke with exuberant energy, but she was winded. Claire has cystic fibrosis, a life threatening disease that damages the lungs and digestive system (and has three years to live, based on the last professional opinion).
There are people in this world who are blessed with health, wealth, talent, ability and the rest of their lives to live. Claire, on the other hand, is ill. She may not freely dream about the future because her time is limited -- however, Claire doesn't wallow. The young dream builder is on a journey to becoming a motivational speaker who sends light through hopeless hearts deserving of a good message. Claire is exemplary of what it means to live in avoidance of fear, on purpose and with intention.
Claire's hearty character was reminiscent of poignant words spoken by Jeff Hoffman, an entrepreneur who emits warmth and executes brilliant ideas into tangible realities. The two had something in common: They live full lives with generous hearts. So, If you believe in magic then naturally you believe in hard work, which is synonymous to doing something you love according to Hoffman.
Hoffman's formula is a set of values that I currently live by, but like so many social entrepreneurs, I stumble curtailing on the outskirts of success. How does one excel without connectivity? How does an ambitious, yet underprivileged dreamer gain access to facilitators of change and investors of companies, businesses and most of all, dreams? A simple formula for an entrepreneurial path is not that cohesive, but it's a great starting point. Pain arrives before gains are recognizable and more often than not, gains usually derive from a well-connected network. Not everyone is blessed with such a wealth of support.
In need of a part two to Hoffman's speech, recorder in hand, I asked for an interview.
"You mentioned that what everyone needs to find is something that they love, creates value and that they're really good at doing," I began. "You said that they need to work hard to achieve excellence. As someone who has helped people around the world, how do you feel about individuals who are doing what they love, solving real problems and working 15 hours a day, but don't have access to diverse and highly-regarded networks?"
Hoffman responded immediately, as if he thought of this question before.
"What we need is to connect people to networks," he began. "There's no grade system on the internet that helps people find each other. All of us have to pitch in together to build an informal network of connectivity. Help people find the specific individuals in the world that can scale and elevate them."
Hoffman continued, "Your network has more to do with your proximity than it does your potential. We get our advice based on proximity not relevance. Surround yourself with people on similar journeys that can understand and share the love."
Meeting Claire and Jeff ignited an intangible fire within me, gleaming with persistence and tenacity. Their words and spirits reminded me that despite how turbulent and unexpected our circumstances may be, as long as we are alive, ultimately, we have a choice.
Claire literally and quite possibly has three more years left of life. Yet, she lives life jubilantly and inspires others while doing so.
I don't know how much longer I have on this earth, but what I do know is that I will live every waking moment marching in stride with life, changing tides when necessary all the while, expressing gratitude as I go.
Cheers to an enchanting weekend spent absorbing the knowledge of seasoned thought leaders, entrepreneurs and creatives. The message is simple: Find happiness in this very moment with all that you have. Be curious and in search of what you love. When you find it, be selfless and add value by solving a problem. Put all of your energy and heart into your work. Own your passion.
HuffPost's GPS for the Soul app is based on two truths about human beings. First: We all have a centered place of wisdom, harmony and balance within us. Second: We're all going to veer away from that place, again and again and again. What we need is a great course-correcting mechanism -- a GPS for the Soul -- to help us find our way back to that centered place, from which everything is possible.
Because no one knows better than you what helps you de-stress and tap into that place of peace inside yourself, it's important for you to create your very own GPS guide -- a personalized collection of whatever helps you course-correct. Email us at GPS@huffingtonpost.com and we'll set you up with your very own HuffPost blogger account to share your guide on the site. If you're already a blogger, we encourage you to upload your personal guide today. We can't wait to see what you have to share.