I’m writing a book about life purpose.
If you’ve got life figured out and you’re clear about your purpose, this book (and this blog post) isn’t for you. But if you’re like most people, you live with ambiguity regarding what you want and you struggle to clearly articulate your life purpose.
The psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.”
“Most of us,” author Ken Keyes Jr. says “go through life not knowing what we want, but feeling darned sure this isn’t it.”
We find ourselves moving toward things we think will bring us pleasure, and we move away from things that cause us pain. This has certainly been my experience. I lived the first thirty-five years of my life believing that life had no meaning. I had no purpose.
That’s why this topic has such an intense fascination for me.
Living without a clear purpose is like living in a fog, or staring into an abyss. Without purpose, what’s the point?
Clayton Christensen, author, business consultant and professor at Harvard Business School writes about the value and importance of purpose. In his essay How Will You Measure Your Life? (he’s written a book by the same title), he says, “I promise my students that if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered at HBS. If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life.”
Viewed only from the biological perspective, the purpose of life boils down to reproduction and survival. Important for the perpetuation of the species, certainly, but not inherently fulfilling.
If you believe C-3PO, “We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life.” The Buddhists also have something to say about that.
I’ve heard it said that you can think of your life purpose as “the difference you’re here on earth to make.”
If you believe Joseph Smith, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence.”
But what do you believe?
For now, I’ll leave you with the words about life purpose that resonate most deeply with me. They belong to Joseph Campbell: “People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
What are you doing to experience being alive? What are you doing to let life live through you?