There’s something off-putting about the way people talk about ‘finding purpose’. It’s almost as if they’re shopping for a new pair of shoes, or sourcing a rare collectible gem.
I think this is problematic because language can shape our reality. By creating an artificial barrier between ‘us’ and ‘purpose’, we objectify it. Purpose becomes this otherworldly thing, a possession to be hunted down and grasped.
More and more, I’m realising that purpose doesn’t work that way. It isn’t something I have or don’t have. It can’t be found, per se. And it isn’t going to fall into my lap miraculously.
Rather, purpose is something I must cultivate and mould throughout my life. It lives within me as potential energy. As long as I commit to inner work, and devote myself to a lifelong process of self-discovery, then I will be on the path of purpose. Perhaps even more important, I must also stay connected with the significance of each passing moment.
I may not know where I’m going, but taking pressure off myself and trusting that time will tell is the first step. Purpose takes shape whenever I can (a) take action in a certain direction based on my authentic values, and (b) patiently reflect on those experiences.
I’ll need to keep asking myself:
- What do I truly enjoy?
- What are my gifts?
- How do I want to contribute to the world?
- What makes me come ALIVE?
When it comes to the meaning of existence, Jean-Paul Sartre believed humans are condemned to make it up as we go along. To improvise for our entire lives. This is the price we pay for being self-conscious animals.
It’s almost as if we’re born onto a cosmic stage and asked to perform a masterpiece… except there’s no director, no script, sometimes no audience!
This freedom to create is both a blessing and a curse. It forces us to look within and ask some challenging questions. But this is how we turn our life into a work of art. And it’s how we cultivate a purposeful existence.
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