What is your life’s purpose?
My mission is to facilitate the transformation of a failing Death Economy that exploits declining resources and is destroying nature and life as we know it into a Life Economy that develops and promotes technologies, businesses, and lifestyles that are regenerative and sustainable.
How are you living your purpose?
I’ve written ten books aimed at fulfilling my purpose and I speak about this at many different types of venues, ranging from international economic summits to shamanic gatherings, from universities to music festivals. My newest book, Touching the Jaguar: Transforming Fear into Action to Change Your Life and the World, is the latest manifestation of this work.
How did you find your purpose?
It began when I was a Peace Corps volunteer and my life was saved by an Amazonian shaman who taught me to “touch the jaguar”– to change my reality by embracing perceptions that transformed fears into positive actions.
After that, I did what business school had encouraged me to do. I became chief economist at a major consulting company (an “economic hit man”), convincing developing countries to build huge infrastructure projects that put them in debt to the World Bank and other US-controlled institutions. Although I had been taught that this was the best model for economic development, I came to see that it was a new form of colonialism.
Returning to the Amazon, I observed the damage caused by foreign companies and the destructive impact of my own work; and I was struck by the example of a previously uncontacted Amazonian tribe that touched its jaguar by uniting with age-old enemies to defend its territory against invading oil and mining companies.
I founded nonprofit organizations, the Pachamama Alliance and Dream Change, that further this cause and I’ve endeavored to spread the word through my books that have spent more than 70 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and have sold more than 2 million copies in 35 languages.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
Always listen to and follow your heart, your inner guidance, your passion, and then do what brings you joy. We are all different. However, each person has passion and skills. Each person has something that brings satisfaction. A good way to look at this is to ask “if I were on my deathbed, what would I look back at and praise myself for doing — or, alternatively, what would I regret not doing?” Then get out and do that very thing. That is your passion. Bring all your skills to bear to realize that passion, that higher purpose.
No matter how much money you might make, you will never be successful or prosperous in the real sense of the word unless and until you use your skills to follow your passion. When I was an economic hitman, I was making lots of money and flying first class around the world. I thought I was living the American dream. But I wasn’t happy. Now that I do what I must enjoy, write true stories about things that are important to me and about transforming the Death Economy into a Life Economy, I’m truly happy. It is my personal example of my purpose. Every individual needs to find his or her purpose and fulfill it in that person’s individual way.
What resources do you recommend?
Indigenous people who honor nature and who are dedicated to making things better for future generations (have long-term views as opposed to goals that emphasize short-term profits) offer inspiration for all of us. Books and resources are provided at my website www.johnperkins.org.
I recommend interested readers learn more by visiting the following organizations: The Pachamama Alliance; Dream Change; Amazon Watch; Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin; Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonía Ecuatoriana (CONFENIAE); Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonía Ecuatoriana (CONAIE).
Besides my own books on the topic, I also recommend Living Indigenous Leadership: Native Narratives on Building Strong Communitiesedited by Carolyn Kenny and Tina Ngaroimata Fraser, The Time of the Black Jaguar: An Offering of Indigenous Wisdom for the Continuity of Life on Earth by Arkan Lushwala, and Healing States: A Journey Into the World of Spiritual Healing and Shamanism by Alberto Villoldo and Stanley Krippner.
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