Humans have always sought the answers to life’s big questions: Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? What is happiness? For inanimate and most animate objects there are finite and fairly straightforward answers to these questions. The purpose for each object is very limited.
Of all the living things on this planet, homo sapiens are the only ones that ask these questions and spend a lifetime searching for the answers. If the search is successful, the person is profoundly rewarded with a sense of well-being, happiness and fulfillment. If a person doesn’t find the answers he or she seeks, there can be an underlying sense of emptiness, helplessness, hopelessness and dissatisfaction with life.
What’s immensely freeing is recognizing that the answers to these questions are never exactly the same for each person. Nor are they bound by time, since your purpose evolves as you live. It’s not defined by what you have or don’t have. It’s not dependent on age, gender, race, status, location, situation or experience. It’s simply you being YOU, in this moment of time!
So ultimately, the answer I’ve found to the question, what is the purpose of life, is for each one of us to live the life you have authentically, without regrets, without shame, and without apology.
We have endless possibilities of what we do, where we go, what we see, who we become. The thing we all have in common is that we lead a purposeful life when we become aware of how we impact the lives of others. You may not think you’ve done anything noteworthy, but your smile brightens another’s day; your kind word starts a ripple of kindness; your example inspires; your wisdom provides guidance; your love strengthens the connection between all living things. You don’t have to be like Melinda Gates, Sonia Sotomayor, or Oprah Winfrey to fulfill a vital purpose on this earth. However, if you’re ambitious, go for it!
Perhaps it’s because we have so many choices, living with purpose becomes more challenging. We can second guess ourselves, wondering constantly if we’re making the best decision, worrying about what we’re missing out on. Just remember what Michel de Montaigne said, “The soul which has no fixed purpose in life is lost; to be everywhere is to be nowhere.”
As you live your life’s purpose, you will experience the gamut of emotions — happiness, joy, gratitude, sadness, anger, disappointment — none of which are “good” or “bad.” They are simply fleeting states that inform you about the moment you’re living. Mindfully embrace each experience and learn what it’s telling you about yourself.
Try not to get caught up in pursuing happiness through escapism or hedonistic pleasures. Yes, they have their place and can be very enjoyable, if they’re used to refresh yourself. However, focusing solely on them exacts a toll on finding your deeper mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It isolates you from close social connections that are critical for nourishing you. A gutsy, strong woman, Helen Keller, came to the same conclusion. She said:
“True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
There are a multitude of studies that show that living YOUR purpose will benefit your long-term health and well-being. Here are a few of the benefits of living in alignment with your purpose:
- Longer life.
- Enhanced quality of life.
- Positive self-image.
- Resilience in times of stress.
- Improved memory and executive functioning.
- Greater productivity.
- Better mental health – less depression and anxiety.
- Increased cognitive abilities.
- Focused mental strength.
- Superior physical fitness.
- And most importantly, purpose gives hope.
When you take the time to find YOUR purpose and express it, you’ll absolutely love your life!
So I ask, “What is the purpose of life – for you?” Have you discovered it yet? Do you jump out of bed, fired with passion to live another day? If so, I’d love to hear about it on my Facebook page. If you’re still in the discovery part of your journey, I can help. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).