What Is The Purpose Of Life?
Have you ever asked yourself, “What is the purpose of life?”
Not too many years ago, I was constantly wondering if there was more to life than my everyday routine.
I often wondered, “Is this…it?” I felt confused and hopeless, wondering if I'd ever feel fulfilled and certain.
The weird thing was, on paper, I had it all — a successful career, a beautiful family, and most importantly, I had my health.
But I just didn't have a sense of direction or meaning, especially as my children grew older and more independent.
I also had a sense of guilt for feeling so unfulfilled and directionless.
But I knew something was missing. So, I set out to create a life of passion and purpose that allows me to wake up excited for the day each morning and live a fuller life with a sense of happiness that I could sustain.
What is the purpose of life?
It's difficult to have a purpose in life if you are not aware of what it really means to do so.
Without a clear definition, it's hard to know if you are pursuing a life purpose correctly — especially if you're confused about what you're pursuing.
Purpose refers to a primary theme of a person’s identity — your big “WHY?” Having a purpose gives a framework for your everyday patterns of behavior.
When you know your “why,” you are able to self-organize your goals, priorities, decisions, and daily schedule.
Your purpose gives you the motivation to dedicate your inner and outer resources in a direction that is meaningful, fulfilling, and that helps you achieve your goals.
What Are the Benefits of Living a Life of Purpose?
Living a life of purpose can positively influence one's health and well-being in so many ways.
- It can increase longevity.
- It helps you better manage pain.
- It helps you maintain function and independence.
- It can help you make healthier choices.
- It helps increase the quality of your sleep.
- It strengthens your resilience.
- It helps you perform better in the face of adversity.
According to studies, most people crave a purpose in their lives but sometimes face a challenge in finding it.
So how can you find your purpose and achieve these benefits? Before we dig into the “how” let's take a look at what a purposeful life looks like.
Attributes of A Purposeful Life
1. You share in mutually supportive relationships
When you have a purpose in life, you attract like-minded people who are attracted to your focus and direction.
You will have many different kinds of relationships throughout your life, including friendships, intimate relationships, and professional relationships.
Each relationship works in a different way, but they all work best if they are mutually supportive.
Any relationship that is grounded in purpose is typically a supportive relationship. This type of relationship brings a mutual benefit to both parties and allows you to achieve more than you could alone.
2. You accept responsibility for your actions.
Having a purpose puts the decisions and choices in your life squarely in your hands.
Until you are able to accept responsibility for your actions, it will be difficult for you to have self-respect or gain the respect of other people.
Everyone mistakes and bad choices at some point. We also fail to act when we know we should. Sometimes we look the other way when we know we should take action.
Being purposeful allows you to own your mistakes and get back on track quickly without languishing in self-doubt or anxiety.
When you take responsibility, it is an indication of how effectively you are managing your life when choices arise. Accepting responsibility is one of the most important elements in defining your character.
3. You have honest and authentic values, principles, and goals.
If you know what you value in life, you will be able to live each day with a purpose surrounding those values and stay on track for your ultimate goals.
Your purpose and values must compliment and support one another, as your values are often shaped by your purpose. And sometimes your purpose arises from one or more of your values.
Your values also help you define your personal and professional goals, which may be related to your bigger purpose.
Having a purpose helps you refine your true, authentic self. It hones you so that you are crystal clear on what you want in your life and who you want to be.
As a result of having a life purpose, you may find yourself needing to redefine your values and goals.
4. You continue to grow and learn, moving forward.
To live a life of purpose, you never want to be stagnant. And having a life purpose ignites a fire under you to do more and be more than you ever thought possible.
You are a life-long learner and relish having new experiences, especially if they further your goals related to your purpose.
One of the most detrimental factors related to your self-worth is stagnancy. Being stuck in limiting beliefs, old opinions, and fear of failure can make you feel helpless and hopeless. It keeps you cut off from finding your purpose.
You can go through life pretending the status quo is just fine, but that restlessness and longing inside of you tells a different story. You will always have hope that there is more if you keep your mind and heart open.
Some of the most profound and meaningful moments in your life require stepping out of your comfort zone, allowing you to continue to grow and learn and create new opportunities to thrive.
Read Related: 50 Self-Coaching Questions To Help You Find Your Passion
5. You don’t wait for perfection.
Nothing will ever be perfect. If you wait for perfection, for the “best” choice to arise, or you hold onto a fear of failure, you will never move forward.
If you are passionate and committed to your goals, and you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything. But you also savor the process with whatever it brings — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
When you are living a purposeful life, you recognize that accomplishing your goals and dreams is a trial and error process. You aren't crippled by failure. In fact, you view failure as a stepping stone on your journey.
You recognize that living out your purpose is not a destination but rather a series of adventures and experiments.
Try to embrace imperfection and even setbacks in order to live a life of purpose without the limitations of fear and self-judgment.
6. You work well within collaborative teams.
Teams are expected to create results, but this may be hard to achieve if people in a team do not work together
Having a collaborative environment is vital in order for a team to be successful, and those with a purpose are particularly skilled at creating this environment.
The enthusiasm and passion they bring to the table are contagious and exciting.
To create this passion-charged atmosphere where teammates are able to work well together, team members must have a common purpose and trust each other to meet their shared goals.
You must also know your role within the team and make sure everyone else has defined roles as well.
Communicate openly so you can share ideas and opinions, and adopt a beginner's mindset so you are open to really hearing what others have to offer, even those less experienced than you.
As you can continue to grow as a team with a sense of purpose, you'll create something collaboratively that none of you would have been able to do alone.
7. You appreciate the life you have.
Too often we spend our time thinking about what we don't have. Maybe we want more money, more relationships, or more time.
Those with a purpose tend to focus on the things they have and appreciate the blessings they encounter every day.
Living a life of purpose requires you to love your current life and everything that you have, even as you have goals to fulfill more of your purpose.
Appreciation and gratitude are necessary foods for the soul. They help keep the fires of your passion and purpose burning brightly, as they foster a positive attitude.
Appreciation is about seeing the beauty of life around you and recognizing the significance and value of things, even if they are small.
Appreciation is about using all five of your senses to recognize the value in each moment of your life. This will help you live a life of more satisfaction with more meaningful moments.
Gratitude also improves your overall health and well-being. If you practice gratitude, your body will feel less stressed, as it helps lower your chances of developing high blood pressure or suffering from a heart attack or stroke.
In fact, according to studies, living with a purpose can help you live longer, no matter how old you are.
8. You focus on the present.
Living mindfully and learning to practice meditation will support your purpose in your life. Research has shown that most of us are on autopilot during almost half of our lives.
Living this way may prevent you from noticing the beauty of life surrounding you or fully appreciating the purpose you are devoting your life to.
Focusing on the present moment can take you out of autopilot and truly live each moment rather than just existing from day to day.
Mindful attention means being engaged fully in the present moment. You are able to release the tension that is caused by wanting things to be different or wanting more, and you can just accept the present moment for what it is.
9. You are of service to others.
Scientific research offers compelling data to support that giving to others is a powerful way to experience personal growth and long-term happiness.
This means that being of service to others may be one of the secrets to living a life that has a purpose and that is healthier, wealthier, and more productive.
Maybe your purpose relates to helping or supporting others, but even if it doesn't do that directly, you help others indirectly with your authentic life choices, contagious enthusiasm, and mindful nature.
10. You choose experiences over tangible items.
Material things come and go, but experiences will last in your memories forever.
In order to pursue your life purpose, you must remain open to new experiences so that you can fully explore and unwrap all possibilities for enjoying it.
Your experiences, not the things you own, make you who you are.
Embrace new experiences and adventures throughout your life so you can continue to evolve and grow. Every new experience adds insights, knowledge, and new opportunities.
Tangible items will not lend you this same level of sustained happiness. They will only provide you will short-term happiness that is destined to dissolve with time.
Finding Your Purpose in Life
You likely want to make a difference in your life but aren’t sure how to discover your life’s purpose. Don't worry — you're not alone. Most people have no idea how to begin the process.
Finding your purpose is not accomplished by just thinking. This is an active process that requires you to get out there and try new things to discover what piques your interest and touches your soul.
Here are some ways to get started:
Seek out more experiences and try new things.
Start with things that you love and things that already inspire you, which may lead you to more experiences that will add purpose to your life.
Go to Meetups, group events, and even online forums in areas that interest and inspire you. Make notes about your feelings and experiences after these encounters.
If you can afford it, travel more often to different and unusual places (not just to the beach or Grandma's house). Talk to new people, ask questions, interact. Soak up as much as possible.
Open your mind.
Rather than holding tight to your opinions and beliefs, challenge them. Don't make assumptions and grasp tightly to limiting beliefs about yourself and your abilities.
Keep your mind open to all possibilities, even if they seem far-fetched or out of your comfort zone. Your purpose might show up as something completely unexpected or entirely different from what you are doing now.
Expand your interests and passions.
You likely do not just have one purpose, but rather a variety of passions that all work together to make up who you are.
What do you choose to do during your free time? Take these hobbies and expand them in order to add purpose to your life.
Understand your “why.”
Ask yourself why you have made the choices you have made about everything in your life.
- Why did I choose this profession?
- Why did I choose this relationship?
- Why do I spend my free time the way I do?
- Why do I prioritize this thing over that thing?
Once you have your answers, ask yourself if these reasons are good enough. Do they reflect your true self, the person you want to be?
If not, what could bring you closer to your why in all of these areas? Write down some specific actions you might take to make this happen.
Pay attention to what inspires you.
There are so many opportunities to make a difference in this worked, to live and leave a legacy that is filled to the brim with purpose and meaning.
As you read or watch the news, pay attention. As you notice what your peers are doing that impacts the world, pay attention. As you see where people are suffering, in need, or lacking in some way, pay attention.
What moves you, inspires you, and compels you to take action? You might find your purpose in the crosshairs of these feelings.
You might also read books and articles about people who are living passionate, purposeful lives. Think about Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and these celebrities who have found a purpose beyond fame.
Begin close to home.
If you remain confused about your life purpose, just make it your purpose to be the most loving, supportive, kind, and positive person you can be with those you love and care about.
If that's all you do in this life, you'll have accomplished so much. The impact you make on those around you will spread out like ripples in a pond.
You can live purposefully by being purposeful and mindful in every interaction you have with those around you. And believe me, you will be remembered for this for a long, long time.
Finding your purpose in life will help you be happier each day and wake up excited to tackle what is ahead of you.
Try some of the action items on this list to see where they take you and what kind of happiness you can uncover in your own life.
If you are unhappy with your life and are wondering if “this is all there is,” take small daily actions to help you feel more in control of your destiny and move forward toward clarity.
For now, allow the search for your life purpose to be your purpose. Enjoy the adventure of figuring it out!