We are all self-centered. When we wake up in the morning, our first thoughts usually begin with “I.”

And this is probably a good thing, because you are the only person really in control of what you will do, say, and think during that day. And all of that doing and thinking and saying, day after day, results in who you are to yourself and others.

Our personal lives can be rich, mediocre, or unfulfilling, depending upon the traits that we develop. Here are 7 personal qualities you will need to live a life of purpose.

1. Service to Others

One of the most important ways to get “outside” of ourselves is to dedicate a certain amount of time toward helping others. Whether this means volunteering for a charity like “Habitat for Humanity” or tutoring children in poor urban environments, we all need to feel that we are contributing something to the improvement of the lives of others. Certainly, it is nice to be able to provide financial donations to a charity, but there is something far more fulfilling if we give of our time. Former President, Jimmy Carter, at the age of 92, still gives time to “Habitat for Humanity.” We could all use him as a model.

2. Find your Passion

A life of purpose doesn’t necessarily mean just helping others or becoming inspired. We all need to find life work about which we have enthusiasm. When we have a passion for our work, we have the motivation to succeed and to exceed. Whether we choose to be a trash collector, a teacher, a writer, or a scientist, we need to strive to be the very best in that vocation that we can be. This brings personal fulfillment – we can say “job well done” to ourselves.

3. Maintain Personal Integrity

A life of purpose means a principled life. Each of us must decide upon those principles by which we will live and that will be uncompromising. All successful people who have the admiration and respect of others have this personality trait.

Personal integrity means that you are honest with others and yourself, that you have very specific values and beliefs, and that you will not let others or circumstances cause you to compromise those values and beliefs.

The poorest person who has personal integrity and will therefore not steal from others has a far richer life than the Wall Street speculator whose behaviors resulted in home foreclosures all across the country. While it may not seem so, the individual with personal integrity loses no sleep at night and certainly never faces the disdain of an entire population.

4. Find Heroes Who Inspire

One of the best ways to enrich our personal lives is to find those who “speak” to our desires to be great. We have goals and often we need to be inspired by others who have achieved their goals and who can give us the motivation to work toward our own. We can find inspiration in quotes, books, movies, and speeches that move us.

If you don’t have a hero; if you don’t have someone who inspires you to be a better person and move towards a life of purpose, then you are missing a key ingredient of self-development.

5. Keep a Sense of Humor

A sense of humor allows us to laugh at ourselves. Even when our lives seem to be in disarray, if we can find humor, that disarray is far less devastating. Humor is a wonderfully healing phenomenon.

The story of Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, is one that everyone should read. Faced with a terminal illness, he literally laughed himself back to health. The movie, “Patch Adams” is based on a true story of a children’s cancer physician who understood the healing power of humor and laughter.

We may not be faced with terminal illnesses, but when our lives are in a bad spiral, humor and laughter can make the difference between succumbing and emerging victorious.

6. Being Non-Judgmental

Even if you do not relish the Bible and its verse, “Judge not lest ye be judged,” then listen to some of the contemporary “gurus” on the subject of judgment. Here is what judgment does to us: it makes us bitter, resentful, and angry. Do you want that kind of life?

Wayne Dyer, famous author, and philosopher, once said, “Judging others does not define them; it defines you as someone who needs to judge.” You may not choose the lifestyle that others have chosen. But their lifestyles are theirs, not yours.

If you keep on your path you can find contentment. You do not need to monitor and judge the paths of others. And it is really liberating once we realize that we do not have to judge.

7. Be a Lifelong Learner

It’s a huge world out there. And knowledge is proceeding at an exponential rate. People who commit to being open to learning new things and who make efforts to do so find that they are much more able to engage others.

Shallow people talk about other people; less shallow people talk about events; people with personal depth talk about ideas. Be a person who contemplates and discusses ideas – you will grow into someone with whom others want to engage.

Life is finite. We only have so many years this time around. Fortunately, we have choices, and we are in complete control of those choices. When we make choices that result in these seven character traits, we find mission, purpose, and fulfillment. We live a life of purpose.

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