“There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.” ~William Barclay
The word “capacity” has many definitions. It can be summarized as the maximum measure of innate potential and the ability to understand and demonstrate one’s optimal capability and power in a specified role.
Ultimately, capacity is your gauge of purpose and potential. How much is in you? How much are you utilizing, and how much is untapped?
The capacity of a storage item—how much it can hold—depends upon size, depth, sturdiness, adaptability, and intended purpose.
These ideas are relevant to us in determining how we can fulfill the true longing of our hearts, continue to push the limits of our fears, and boldly meet our own capabilities for living well.
Size is the expanse of our dreams and visions for our lives—the boundaries we see or do not. Depth is the infiniteness of our soul’s desires and our connection to something deeper.
Sturdiness pertains to the strength of our resolution and integrity—the beliefs that sustain us in spite of everything. Adaptability is how willingly we are to follow our own paths and deal with uncharted territory.
An intended purpose—that’s when we know without a doubt what we believe we were made to do. Then it’s not a matter of how, but rather how soon. How soon will you wait to step into this perfect fit, this divine capacity?
It’s a funny thing about purpose: Once you know it truly and completely, you are invincible, because no one can stop you from living your design. It is your birthright, your gift from and to the universe and to humanity.
Six years ago, my current life and future destiny collided in a classroom at the University of Southern California. Sitting amidst my collegiate peers, I listened to a graduate student speaking about a career in occupational therapy.
To most, including me, it was your typical professional spiel, and I must admit that I listened halfheartedly at best. It wasn’t until about a year later, stalled by circumstance, that I found my way back to that memory.
In revisiting the topic with a new mindset, I saw what I had missed before. Before me was a golden opportunity to serve my distinct purpose in this world. I was fortunate enough this second time around to have the clarity, courage, and wherewithal to step out of my life and re-route.
That was when I realized that occupational therapy was my calling.
The reflection on my own capacity came to me one morning as I plugged my iPod into my computer. It was only 1/8th full, revealing a vast and seemingly endless potential for media storage.
I wondered how often we walk around like our iPods—either underutilizing our potential for wisdom, love, passion, and desire, choosing to operate at only a small fraction of our capacity; or perhaps, even worse, unaware that in harnessing and storing the right information, we can learn to maximize our lives to fulfill our potential and promise.
What I came to realize is that, despite everything, capacity itself is not flexible. Rather, it is determined and measured in relation to what goes in, how much space things take up, and how much is left for everything else.
This means that no matter how much potential we have holding on to the right things, by holding on to the wrong things, we take up vital space and give the illusion of limitations.
Unfortunately, we have all fallen victim to external viewpoints, social pressures, public opinion, and private criticisms. We allow those thoughts to inhabit our minds, often leaving us feeling exhausted, drained, and far below a functional capacity for this life and its challenges.
We are left drowning in the negative self-talk, stuck among the constant comparisons and envy, the “why me” questions, the stifling fears, and the seemingly paralyzing self-doubt. All these things ultimately deplete our energy and keep us stuck in dissatisfaction.
We must understand that our whispering instincts and subtle longings can create a surplus of love and passion if we learn to listen to them.
We must recognize the things, people, and situations that rob us of our ability to do more and invest more.
We must give ourselves permission to let go—to release the people and things that hold us back and cloud our minds, hearts, and souls with inefficient thoughts, behaviors, and energies.
And we must instead embrace self-love, wisdom, hope, passion, beauty, creativity, and simplicity so that we may determine our true capacity and live life to the fullest.
Happiness results when an understanding of intention and design meets a commitment to living out that purpose.
Then we can just allow the knowledge that this is what we we’re made for to guide our hearts, souls, thoughts, and hands.
When we understand our talents and potential and follow our internal compass, it’s a lot easier to stay self-assured when dealing with challenges.
I see this so clearly now as I look back on that life-changing and decisive moment. Two years into my career as a pediatric Occupational Therapist, working daily with children with Autism, I know that I am operating at full capacity.
My work fills me with unbounded love, joy, and passion, and it constantly challenges my perspective on the world.
I have no doubt that I can continue to make my mark on this world if I continue to follow my intuition and passions. We are all in the midst of a journey, and it is never too late to turn around, re-calculate, and pursue what you believe to be your destiny.
So I ask you: Are you limiting yourself or operating at full capacity? If not, where does your heart lead you, and what steps can you take today to start heading there?