Live a Fulfilling Life on Purpose

For years I’ve been inspired by these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.

I began to create a life from the inside out and embraced Emerson’s message. I looked around my world for what gave me hope in the midst of unpredictable chaos. Here are some things I’ve learned so far on my journey and I hope you’ll find some that resonate with your experiences.

Declutter Your Space, Heart, and Life

Many of us at some point or another have become stymied by the quantity of unneeded belongings, the hurts in our hearts, and the unpleasant activities in our days and now are taking action to gently clear our lives of thoughts, things, and experiences that are “soul-sucking.” This often creates freedom, peace of mind, and breathing room for other purposeful and life-giving adventures. Let go courageously.

Leave People Empowered

Maya Angelou’s words shed a bright light on this idea, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s often been painful to admit all the moments that we’ve hurt another or made them feel invisible. On the other hand, it feels amazing to listen, embrace, and celebrate another person. Most of us want to be seen, heard, and valued. Be the person who listens and uplifts others as often as you can.

Grow in Self-Awareness and Self-Compassion

It can take tremendous courage, to be honest with yourself about how you treat yourself and others. Many of us may live with a critical internal voice and observe that we can be unkind to ourselves. We notice we are generous and friendly with others but live with unpleasant feelings on the inside. We may be exhausted from overextending ourselves. Maybe it’s time for deep self-care and self-nurturing. It may be an opportunity to quiet the inner critic and look in the mirror with eyes of love.

Really hard things can happen and these events often become a catalyst. We finally must allow space and time to grieve old hurts and feel our fury in ways that don’t hurt others or ourselves. Be brave enough to release these feelings, make amends, and forgive yourself and others.

It’s a non-linear, two steps forward, and then slipping in the mud process. Glimmers and then fuller experiences of clarity, joy, and acceptance emerge in time. We can only be responsible for our thoughts, spoken words, and actions. Begin to embrace yourself with compassion and grace.

Find A Nuanced Middle Ground

The extremes of working all the time without rest or play takes a toll. Being a couch potato for hours, mindlessly numbing out with TV shows or unhealthy food on the other extreme is also not usually a great way to live life. There’s a nuanced middle path of finding a flow among work, rest, play or contribution, self-care, and connection. Attempt to look for your own sweet spot of dynamic equilibrium. Do what brings you life.

Cultivate Healthy Relationships with Others

Be discerning about the people who have your best interests at heart and you have theirs. You see their gifts, vulnerability, strengths, and honesty and they see yours. Having been thrown under buses by others, you learn to be stronger, more aware, and capable of standing back up, dodging those who have ill-intent or are not aware and don’t care to be aware of how much they hurt others. Find and create healthy bonds with those who see your goodness and gifts and you see theirs. Find common ground with these colleagues and beloved ones. Hold each other high.

Hold Compassion for Others

Consider that you have no idea what another person that you are meeting has lived or endured. When you see strangers or interact with people who behave badly, know that is what they are doing with their pain, addictions, or struggles. It’s not personal. They may be tortured souls who endured many traumas. You can choose to silently walk away or intervene on behalf of those they are mistreating, or firmly speak your truth and set clear boundaries.

Assume that most people you meet have dealt with something or many things that have challenged them and that they have failed to achieve some goals or even had to set some down forever. They are either struggling or striving to be the best version of themselves. Work to see others with eyes of compassion.

Be Unstoppable in the Face of Doubters

You, like me, may be acutely aware from life experiences that sometimes the people who have been closest to you are your most feared challengers and doubters. What I’ve learned inside that crucible is words and deeds from tortured souls often cannot have the same weight as the words and deeds from healthy, reasonable people with keen insight. You may have to pull apart other people’s words and deeds from your own truths. Consider the source. Some people have deep, unresolved pain and doubters sometimes are wrestling with their own insecurities. They also may have big fears about your dreams.

Sometimes people struggle to find their own courage, strength, and faith. Your brave bright light might make them squint and squirm. Go about living true to your heart, dreams, and really big desires that come from the deepest part of you. Your ideas, especially the ones that give you goosebumps, matter. Unwavering, unrelenting inspired actions will produce results. Keep going.

Leave the World a Little Bit Better

Many of you live your life quietly making a positive difference by smiling at your neighbors, taking care of animals, growing a garden, creating a home that reflects your tastes and joys, raising healthy children, and working in steady service to others. You do small acts with great love each day of your life. You make mistakes, learn, and recover. You experience heartbreak, grieve, and rise strong. You love and share love with others and believe in your heart that you will die peacefully knowing you shared your soul gifts with your beloved ones and community. Much of life happens in the small moments of being alive. Share your gifts. Your unique contributions make a difference.


Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

DO YOU HAVE THE "WRITE" STUFF? If you’re ready to share your wisdom of experience, we’re ready to share it with our massive global audience – by giving you the opportunity to become a published Contributor on our award-winning Site with (your own byline). And who knows? – it may be your first step in discovering your “hidden Hemmingway”. LEARN MORE HERE


  1. Much of life happens in the small moments of being alive. Share your gifts. Your unique contributions make a difference……This is so true and it is how we truly make a difference doing small things every say. Thank you . Strong Ink Indeed!

    • Thank you so much, Larry, my friend! Small deeds with great love-I think Mother Teresa stated this a bit more eloquently…Here are her words: ” “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Makes me think of all the great love you bring to those animals and people and so much more, Larry!

  2. Hi Laura. I would like to be more even-keeled with your point titled, “Hold Compassion for Others.” It reminds me of one of my favorite quotations I have not visited in awhile.

    “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element… I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration… If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” ― Haim G. Ginott, Teacher and Child: A Book for Parents and Teachers

    I’m also reminded that when I’m judging another that I cannot possibly know what is going on with them. I’m looking through my lens creating a story and they are just doing life. If I could just make this less about me 😉 Thank you for ALL of your points.

    • Thank you for your honest reflections and for sharing the wonderful quote from Haim G. Ginott! He inspired the writings of Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish-How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk-one of my all time favorite parenting books!!!

      Yes, practicing compassion takes self-awareness-as you notice (and I have too!) “When I’m judging another that I cannot possibly know what is going on with them. I’m looking through my lens creating a story and they are just doing life.” Yes!! As Brene Brown and other wise ones have said, “People are doing the best they can with the awareness/skill sets/consciousness they have at that moment.” We all are…

      I appreciate your candor and contribution! And you are so welcome.

  3. Hi Laura, what an inspirational piece! I can see we share the same journeys. Your point about compassion for others is pivotal in making a great life for yourself. When I committed to seeing everyone that was in opposition to what I was doing or was hurtful, as souls with wounds that needed healing, the dynamic of my responses and relationships changed. I did have to make decisions about cutting out of my life certain people, family, friends, and others, but I understood it was necessary if I was to thrive. Living a soulful life helps people and the planet more than we could possibly see. It is not selfish, it is self-care.

    • Oh, I’m so happy to know that this piece connected with you and your experiences, Helen! Cultivating compassion can be an empowering, liberating game-changer in the experience of being alive. You’ve shared quite a parallel journey of bravely letting go, holding compassion, freeing yourself of relationships that no longer nourished your life purpose thus allowing you to live a thriving life. I especially love this contribution “Living a soulful life helps people and the planet more than we could possibly see. It is not selfish, it is self-care.” YES!! Thank you so much for all you’ve offered! Thank you for doing the brave work to place yourself on that WaHOOOO! path!! 🙂 (That’s what I sometimes call it-or the Bonus Round of Being Alive or your very own way of describing it…of course!).