Why do I Need a Purpose (and How do I Find One)?
When I ask people what their purpose is their shoulders usually slump a bit. They have no idea and don't know where to start to figure it out, but they have a nagging sense that having a purpose would be a good thing. And they're right. Recent studies have shown that cultivating a sense of purpose actually offers protection from cardiovascular events, limits harmful effects in the brain associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and prolongs life.
I found a quasi-sense of purpose in my role as a mother for a couple of decades, but I now see how unfair that was to my kids. When we make our children our purpose, we are too involved and invested in the work they need to be doing to grow themselves up. We actually get in the way as we impose our attitudes, desires, fears, and beliefs onto them. They waste precious energy fending off all of our baggage when they should be exploring who they are and what they want to create in life. What usually happens is that they get so worn out by the time they reach adulthood that they end up repeating much of what we taught them, just as we are unconsciously repeating what our parents taught us. And around we go, perpetuating a great deal of dysfunction and slowing the evolution of our species to a crawl.
How much more valuable would we be to our children if we could model what it looks like to live on purpose rather than make them ours?
We can actually learn a lot about how to live from a clear sense of purpose by carefully observing children. A child's purpose is clear: To Learn and to Grow. When kids are unencumbered by the stifling protections, projections, and comforts imposed by well-meaning parents and freer to follow their natural curiosities in school, they delightedly charge off every day to fulfill that purpose — they even call it play.
Living with that level of enthusiasm is our birthright as human beings and lighting the spark of purpose inside of us is the key to getting it back.
Here are some truths about purpose:
Purpose sets up a yearning in us.
We feel best when we are striving toward it and we suffer when we are not.
Purpose offers us a way to actively live according to our deepest core values.
This is why living on purpose feels so good.
Purpose builds a feeling of importance and meaning.
Our purpose offers us an answer to the question: Why am I here?
Purpose triggers motivation and courage.
Our purpose pushes us out of our comfort zone to live more fully.
Purpose energizes us.
Our purpose gets us out of bed in the morning when we'd rather not.
Purpose can be articulated in a few simple words.
Keeping it simple helps us to focus.
Purpose offers a path to self-awareness
Living on purpose is a valuable tool for staying present. It acts as a guidance system. Once we internalize it, we can ask ourselves at any time, "Am I doing it now?" and it becomes immediately clear if there is something we need to do to get back on track. This is why it is important to boil down your purpose to a simple phrase.
Here's my purpose:
I've understood for a few years now that my core purpose is to lift the energy of the planet. While that sounds very grandiose at first, it is very simple and works on macro and micro levels.
On a macro level, through my work helping other people gain mastery over their thoughts and emotions, I can leverage my influence on the planet's energy quite powerfully. When one person starts to feel better on the inside, they move through the world with greater ease. They are better bosses, better spouses, better parents, the list goes on and on. Every person they interact with is lifted on some level because emotional energy is contagious. Those people in turn interact with others from a higher energy level and pass the goodness along. It goes viral. It tickles me to think about the lives I may have indirectly lifted that I will never know about. I already know that if I die tomorrow, my presence on the planet mattered. I made a positive difference that will keep spreading for generations to come. This gets me up in the morning!
And on those days when I'm not actually pushing out positive content or working with people, my purpose statement works on micro level. I can ask "Am I lifting the energy of the planet now?" Sometimes I am in a negative space and the answer is a resounding No! This offers me a chance to quickly reset myself in small ways. It can be as small as putting a smile on my face and thinking of one thing I am grateful for and— Presto! Chango! I've lifted the energy of the planet by one small drop. Mission accomplished!
See? Fulfilling your purpose doesn't have to be a big deal. Create your own bits of purposeful action in the world and let your feelings of satisfaction grow. Nothing is too small; it all counts—even the largest ocean is made of mere droplets.
What's your purpose? Want to find out?