Midlife Crisis has two extremes; it either energizes you with a new purpose of life or a person feels lost as they wrestle for meaning in their life

Disconnected from the Purpose of Life

Midlife crisis focuses a person towards the need of embracing a meaningful goal for one’s life. This makes sense because a midlife crisis is often the point when a person takes control of their story in life.  Earlier in a person’s life, they have been living to what has been given to them by their society and family. As a result, there isn’t any need to question their meaning in life. The meaning is to follow along with the story you have been supporting for the last 20 to 30 years.

When a person takes control of their life’s story, they have to re-address the purpose of their life, To pull a story, meaning, a purpose and direction altogether. At first, most people just dive into the first story/cause that catches their attention and assume meaning will naturally follow. But that isn’t the case. It’s important to find a purpose in life that matches to your essence, or everything will feel out of sync to you.

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Purpose of Life: Western vs. Eastern

From a western perspective, the meaning of life ends up as a destination, a set of moral practices to define goals of achievement. Western lifestyle often tends to use goals to shape a person’s life. Taoism has no goals. Instead, Taoism stresses living itself forms a person rather than any purpose. The teachings of Taoism embrace the journey of living as the very meaning of life.

  • Western perspective: A person shapes life to a goal: To a final defining purpose.
  • Taoist perspective: The shape of life: is the meaning of life: No final defining purpose exists at all! Instead, the defining aspect of life is in the living of each moment. This becomes clearer when seeing Taoism define the Tao: The Tao is indefinable!

These are very different viewpoints. For this reason, westerners can experience confusion in understanding Taoism. Western thought is often approaching life from the opposite perspective!

In living, it’s the path a person travels and not an expectation of results that becomes the meaning of Taoist’s life. A Taoist embraces life fully and with gusto. Life is about each moment,  moving with what grows most gracefully instead of working to a pre-defined plan on where a person needs to be.

A Taoist perspective is beneficial for a person experiencing any crisis.

  1. As a philosophy, Taoism frees a person from restrictive relationship chains and unreasonable personal expectations. Taoism removes the pressures from institutional doctrines trying to force a person to be something they are not.
  2. Taoism stresses personal acceptance as a practice. Taoism guides a person to understanding and embracing their current life. This leads a person out from living in the past. Taoism helps a person realize they are always free to move forward away from any past sin or problem that might be tying them down. A Taoist practice helps a person experiencing a life crisis to move with life rather than self-inflicting pain as a form of repentance from the past or overly worrying about the future.
  3. If no final goal exists: a Taoist discovers a style of life, based upon the grace of one’s actions, to become the defining aspect of their very life.
  4. A Taoist discovers good humor in their life. The only thing a person can be perfect at is being themselves. It’s the defining quality of being an individual. In that we will make mistakes, Taoism teaches how to embrace personal errors. If a person cannot laugh at their very own life, then they haven’t embraced life with acceptance of their nature. Grace then becomes a process of learning how to not make the same mistakes (well not too often) as we move forward.
  5. A surprising truth, in living life, a Taoist also embraces a concept of heaven. While the perspective of Taoism and Western attitudes might be opposite, the results of embracing life with acceptance are the same. The difference of perspective means that a Taoist recognizes heaven within life over a westerner’s belief of heaven to be a future goal.
  6. For many Taoists, heaven isn’t as much as a religious concept but rather a spiritual part of life. It’s a concept of living fully with a spiritual grace. Where spirit represents the movement of our very life. Western thought removes heaven from life, making heaven only a religious pursuit. So just mentioning heaven in this article will cause some readers to get upset due to religious overtones. Taoism teaches this is an issue of perception. This is an important issue to overcome towards finding personal peace and purpose of life. For some people experiencing a midlife crisis, this aspect can be the crux of the crisis: trying to reconcile one’s religious background relative to their deeper personal beliefs. Taoism helps, as it helps simplify the understanding of these internal conflicts we accumulate in life.
  7. Taoism teaches patience of time. In a rush to complete goals people get impatient with not making progress. Time is irrelevant to a Taoist. As a result working through a midlife crisis isn’t overwhelming to a Taoist. It simply just is, and it passes quickly as one lives fully.

A person in western culture typically approaches midlife crisis with the idea that only a single final goal exists. For example, many people experiencing midlife crisis will start Yoga, Qigong, or some other practice… expecting an answer will arise from the practice… Mentally they have set a goal for their midlife transformation: a goal of enlightenment, to be in better shape, to enjoy life, to do so many things.

The problem with the western approach: a person quickly becomes upset or disheartened when not making progress in finding their purpose of life. A midlife transformation doesn’t follow any business schedule or personal agenda. The more a person forces their midlife crisis towards being a certain goal: the longer the midlife crisis will spread out over their life.

A midlife transition is as much about “letting go” as it is about transformation.

Transformation and “letting go” are the same thing.

Changing Oneself vs. Changing the World

People often try to find purpose in life by changing the world. Also, people try to find purpose through action. Nothing says action like expending lots of energy. Action alone doesn’t give purpose in life.

During any transformation, a person is refocusing the intent and purpose of their entire life. Midlife transformation is a time when a person’s psyche is very malleable, and new patterns are getting established for how to lead their life.

When a person channels all their energy into fixing the larger world: it leaves little space for personal development. Trying to fix the world directly can for all purposes be considered to be endless. As a result taking a path as a pure social reformer leaves little room for personal development.

Taoism instead focuses a person on a path of self-exploration first. In this way, a person can better focus their energy and time to understand their nature and how it connects outward to the larger world.

Taoism doesn’t discourage a person from making a difference or from changing society. Taoism teaches that such change comes from within first. Virtue in oneself ripples outward. Others will always be drawn to the completeness of self. The process of reflection works both ways. Actively working to change the world will delay a process of personal enlightenment, while working to find self-completion will help speed up the process of changing society.

A perfect example of this is the Buddha. The Buddha spent many years trying to find solutions to human suffering. Once the Buddha turned the path inward and discovered his path, it also created a path others could follow, the way of Buddhism. As such then: in finding a personal path the Buddha opened a process of change with the entire world.

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The Purpose of Life and the Future.

Taoism teaches not to worry about the future as it will happen and is happening. A person still acts towards the future but without fear or concern. This means the future is part of living well and with grace now. Think about the future… not in fear but in hope and grace towards building what you would like to live in tomorrow: in the now.

All cultures, even ours, contain seeds of hope, life, and renewal. But those seeds are all within the actions of living in the now.

To be a futurist and working towards a better world for our children… simply means living now in the fashion we desire of the future. It doesn’t need to all happen at once. Just start with small steps work your way towards those desires.

I find the purpose of life by living in this manner kindly and it’s easy. The mass media would like to make you think otherwise since it’s not their system… Big deal, ignore all the hype by just being yourself.

It’s so simple, that if you live as yourself, no one can stop you from making a difference.

This is the Taoist path, and it is the way and wave of the future… But it will have a thousand other names, a thousand other faces… and We are the wave. 🙂

What are the steps of doing this?

By Living in the now.

Together, hope and grace are the keys. Hope is the vision and grace is the motion of working thru a midlife crisis. You need both!

The true secret of midlife transformation is combining the hope of your vision with the grace of action/movement.

Just hoping for change, changes nothing, since to reach a destination it takes a start of just the smallest of actions, the smallest of pauses to make a difference. A difference is what we seek, so a person must plant a seed for a difference to occur.

Go Beyond Destination
Embrace Your Destiny!

Simple Steps Towards the Purpose of Life.

Humans tend to make life and solutions complicated: since as a person, we can see into the future. We see everything that should be happening and so… all the future sight… becomes paralysis. We lose our purpose in life from seeing too many options of what we can be in life. We lose our purpose in life by trying to be too much all at once.

Here is a Taoist outline for a simpler path towards your life’s purpose.

Don’t look ahead.
Don’t add up all the work.
Don’t try to figure it all out.

Instead take a moment within a breath, pause, smile and take a small action that feels graceful… Repeat.

This ends up adding up and up and up… To being you.

You will discover that you like how this evolves into a new lifestyle, and this lifestyle will in itself becomes your purpose of life.

When you examine the possibilities… Don’t over focus in the future you imagine… but rather find it within a moment of pause.

It’s within the pause: that each step becomes visible for your larger life to improve and follow upon.

  • Smile, when needing to pick a possible next step. Since to smile is to open possibilities.
  • Breathe when needing a break. Since to breathe is to be at one with yourself.

Alternate the two, and your path will become free and clear for an entire lifetime of wonder to explore.

A person living through Midlife Transformation will experience new ways of seeing life, make mistakes along the way and almost always will end up in a place they never even suspected exists. Midlife Transformation often leads to experiences of “Enlightenment“. If you are fortunate enough to have had such a feeling of “Enlightenment” once, then be aware this is a new starting point of living life fully.

Finding your life’s purpose is gained by tumbling through all the edges/boundaries of the transformation providing a person perspective. It’s this perspective and the changes in your perceptions that fuel the “Enlightenment” process. So don’t hesitate to change, don’t hesitate to practice and try new activities.

🙂 mix , match, swirl and live.

Sincerely
Casey

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Angel

Thank you for sharing this insight. It resonates deeply.

Sid

Hi Casey, I’ve just recently developed an interest in Taoism and was very fortunate to have chanced upon your website. Upon reflection I now realise that I’ve been going through a mid-life crisis for the past 3 years. I’ve now come to realise that most of what I’ve done in my life, especially in terms of career path, has not really been true to my own wants and personality. While I now realise that I’ve been wasting away my life trying to fit into a mold created for me by others (parents, family, society at large), I’m also conscious that… Read more »

Ben

Hi Casey,

I also wanted to thank you for writing this. Amazingly helpful words at a tough time. Really well written. I just googled mid life crisis and found you. I’m working with a Taoist counsellor here in the UK who is guiding me on the exact principles you are speaking about. Some of the symptoms you mention are bang on and can be very scary, like a death really in many ways. This gives great hope to rock on the right direction. Thanks.

Frank

I am so glad to have found this place and grateful to you. You have described lots of the things I am going through so well! It made me cry tears of relief, but also joy! I am up and down with this, good days and bad days. Doctor offered drugs but I refused them and asked for therapy. It was the therapist who first put a name to it ‘ mid life crisis’. I decided to do my own research and here I am. I have done so many of the things you describe: change diet to almost veggie… Read more »

@Bill: You are very welcomed for the mid life materials here. I wrote all the articles on mid life crisis to really help people transform and make life successful and better. It isn’t an easy time and without an occasional helping hand all too many people fall for the common traps in mid life crisis like trying to change the world first. The first step is refining one’s own life into a centered and balanced sense of self. After this, then it becomes possible to help others without creating conflict. In gently helping each other transform, not forcing everyone to… Read more »

Bill

This is helping me to continue living in the now, to smile for myself for no other reason than because I want to. When I lose the focus of now and want to change the world to one where all humanity lives as one community that circumvents the globe, I need to breathe as I focus on the future and get seperated from the self. This is where I’ve been losing myself recently and what I needed to be reminded of. I thank you for this site and leave you with a heart felt peace to the world.

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