Saturday, 5 May 2012

What Is Your Purpose In Life?

Why do we fight so hard to cling on to life each day? And do you actually know the purpose for your existence? In short, do you believe that you have been born for a particular reason, and if so, what exactly is it?

Some people may belong to a belief system and they do their best to live by the rules of that particular group. They state they have a strong desire to become leaders, preachers, counsellors or Imams etc within those groups, and that is their main purpose in life. 

Others have no belief system but also feel they have a burning ambition to become a doctor, fireman, engineer or politician, and will dedicate their life to gaining the relevant qualifications and training to do what they feel they have been called to. Some of those people will tell you that they had that strong sense or desire since they were a child, and they are now achieving their goal. They wake up every morning and can't wait to seize the day. 

But this is not the case for everyone. Regardless of what group you belong to in society, what if you have absolutely no idea what your purpose in life is? You may be employed or unemployed, rich or poor, sick or healthy, but you feel like a rolling stone gathering no moss. You feel that, like a needle in a haystack, your purpose just cannot be found. 

You just simply bounce in and out of each day with a sense that you have nothing to show for it.

As a wild thought, could this be one reason why so many people suffer from illnesses such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, and even end up committing suicide because they cannot see any purpose for their life? Could it be that having a 'purpose' would govern how we behave today? I'm not saying that troubles won't come up and bite us in the posterior at times, knocking us off our course, but at least we have an aim. 

Sometimes we are thrown further off course because others try to force us into what they think our purpose in life should be. Ever felt your parents, peers, school or workplace or other outside pressures were molding you to be something other than who you feel yourself to be from the inside?

It doesn’t seem to me that previous generations suffered so much from this. Could it be that this purposelessness is a symptom of modern living?
Can you relate to the experience of having a strong sense of purpose?
Or is it the opposite for you?
What impact do you see your sense of purpose, or lack of it have on your life?

Please share your views and experiences.

37 comments:

  1. This is really deep. I do have a purpose in my life, to share things from my experience in life. That will make a difference in other people lives.

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  2. This is an interesting and thought-provoking post. In my opinion, I have spent all of my adult life with a strong sense of my purpose in life. I do believe that makes a big difference in your outlook in life. For instance, when you know your purpose in life, you are less likely to be all over the place. Rather, your sense of purpose gives you a sense of direction because you are not trying to find yourself because you believe already have. Then you can just concentrate on being the best version of the person you believe God has made you to be. Anyway, excellent post.

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    1. Frank. It's good that you had a strong sense of direction, knowing exactly what you need to do in order to perfect that purpose, as many people don't in life, and despite them becoming older they are still searching without hope. We see it everyday as people wander the streets with no ambition, no aim and no goal. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Purpose, like something I was born to do: No. Purpose as in what I want to do in my life, yes. But those goals were set by me. I do think since I found what some would say was a calling, I say it was more just finding what I wanted to be, I did not have the direction I have now. I think if I had not done the co op I did I probably would have dropped out of High School once I hit 16 and worked for my family's business. I had to find something worth finishing school for, as I never really thought I would bother going to University, it seemed a waste of a shitload of money. Now I have my Bachelors and am signing on for another 4 years of being broke.... I mean getting an education.
    Do I think this is why I was born, no. I do not think anyone has a destiny waiting for them to fulfill it. I think each person needs to set their own goals and find their own purpose, but I do not think that every goal you make will be achieved. But forever setting new goals, I think it makes us better people, happier people, to reach for something, even if you miss it.
    Sometimes our goal is very simple, sometimes very grand. But personally I think when we stop reaching for something, there is something wrong. I do not think maintaining is a happy place for a human being. Those I see with no goals tend to be very depressed people, with nothing to look forward to, how can you be anything but? Sometimes I see people downtown with such a hard look: Like life has served them crap, and they have long since stopped thinking it would get any better. Like life is something to suffer through until you die.

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    1. Jamie, you are certainly right when you say that all our goals won't be achieved. In some cases it is a 'strike it lucky' matter. I am concerned though when people say how depressed they are, because despite them feeling they have a purpose, they just never seem to get there. Everything always seems to go wrong.

      One friend of mine has spent his entire life chasing a dream that we all know will never come true. Why? because we think he's missed the boat. Every time I see him he tells me of his grand plans but to date he has not got one step further than he was years ago. Yes, he is extremely depressed but lives off this desire.

      Jamie, another 4 years of what I call suffering, cheap food, sparingly using the gas, electric, long nights of studying, but it's worth it in the end. Rather you than me, ha ha ha. You're obviously cut out for this, congrats on the bachelors, and I know you will succeed with the next qualification.

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    2. I hear you, but when I say reaching for goals, that is not a passive "someday my chance will come". That is a conscious effort to achieve your goal. As my mother used to say, no one is gonna call you u, out of the blue, and offer you the job of your dreams.

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    3. 2 thumbs up Jamie. I agree totally. So many people have resigned themselves to their lot in life, even settling into a comfortable routine, not realising they have effectively institutionalised themselves.

      It is so easy for our creative powers and capacity for growth, learning, discovery and wonder to become dormant. Life is too short and precious to sleepwalk through. Someone said 'a mind is a terrible thing to waste' - how dare we allow ourselves to be dumbed down?

      Nothing of real value is cheap, the cost might be in terms of energy, finance, effort, confronting discomfort, fear or even just the unfamiliar, but, for me the alternative is to live a waking coma.

      All the best with your studies. The day will soon come when someone who sat on their ass all day watching soap operas and talk shows will complain about how you get all the good breaks and their life isn't going anywhere.

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    4. Thank you Shiloh for your well wishes.

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  4. I agree with you - I think that not having a sense of purpose or direction in life is to aimlessly wander and leave one open to depression and discouragement. I believe that we all have a unique purpose - or else why are we here? If there is no point and everything is random, what possible reason could there be for our existence?

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    1. Melody. I agree. The only hard thing about this is knowing or finding your purpose in life. I struggle with the question: how do you know what your purpose is? There doesn't seem to be a formula you can apply to discover purpose.

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  5. Rumpunch, you are magnificent!

    Awesome is a small word for your gift to find controversial subjects that not only are that, but also open one's mind into unknown territories!!

    This last is an epitome of a long list of questions, such as how big is your faith, (since all of us have faith, disregarding in what is the place we deposit it. Religion, Science, Knowledge, Greed, Evil, whatever! We all have faith because it is not possible to live without it!

    Sometimes we call it Trust, but it is the same thing. We have it or we could not accept that Borneo is a far away island in the Asian South East, or climb into a plane without ever been near the person who will pilot it), following with the questions: how much you believe in your spiritual power?, how much you believe in your strength to overcome physical hurdles?, how you will react to unexpected snarls?, and how much are you ready to pay for success?, to mention a very few!

    And I want to state from the beginning that all that follows is my way of looking at life, not the truth by a long way. I am not setting the rules of a new "ism", even if "untonyism" may seem appealing. I am just enjoying writing in accordance to your guide in the blog.

    But this is enough mumbo-jumbo.

    This question of yours is a double faced mirror, yes, a double faced mirror, where you can see yourself and your beliefs in the two different ways you may think your purpose in life is defined.

    If you are a Determinist, you will find logical to think about bricks that make a building and where each brick has a place in the walls, some of them hiding deep into the foundations, and others near the ridgepole holding the flags! Yes, this is possible. And also, it is not necessarily true.

    If you think, as most great Scientists on Earth do, we are ruled by random laws that let us plan, develop, and make our future in our image and likeness, with some bumps and troubles, a kind of "American Dream", not too American nowadays, because it has spread around the globe, you will prepare yourself to "fight" for your ideals and make an unique place for you, (of course, there are many variation in this level). Yes, it is possible. And also, it is not necessary true.

    There is a third position, not contemplated in our mirror, and not too well regarded, where one thinks this business of life is not his/hers, one takes what one can and goes away as one came: naked and with no possessions. Yes, this is possible... etc. etc.

    And, if you press a bit, there is another cultural, but world wide accepted notation that you must be "useful" (whatever this word means) or you will be a depressed, anxious, and lonely being! Yes, this is possible... etc. etc.

    After these premises, I dare to end the sophism writing that, "We do not know shirt from blouse".

    We act as we think, or were made to think, is right and so be it!!

    Of course, all this is tainted by my lack of experience, being "too" young yet to be in position to relate any experience of having a strong sense of purpose, or its opposite, for that matter.

    I guess that if there will be an impact on my life because the sense of purpose, or lack thereof, I must wait for some time yet to verify it!

    Thank you, Rumpunch, for sharing your wonderful gift with us all!!

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    1. Untony
      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. If only you saw the distress I have behind the scenes trying to put on paper what is in my mind, so I very much welcome your words, and all the nice comments others have said about this blog.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this, and the way you have explained the different ways people may look at life and possible purposes for it. Untonyism does seem an appealing way to describe the way you write and how you put things. :)

      You are never too young, as they say. I know of children as young as 11 who already have ideas for what they wish to be when they grow up and have set plans in place. So in a way they have a purpose in life. In time you will see if this purpose comes to fruition, if it changes or if they give up etc...

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  6. Really appreciate your thoughts regarding purpose. Yes, sometimes,we feel we're drifting aimlessly in life and going nowhere. And maybe that is that culprit - the lack of purpose. the lack of drive to do something 'worthwhile', something that is beneficial not only to ourselves but also to others. Thanks for these Rum-Punch. Keep it up!!!

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    1. Yes, it seems like Rum has found his purpose in life - well done on this honest, reflective post!

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    2. Ric/LifeNCanvas
      I appreciate your comments here, thank you. I'll do my best to keep it up, no promises though :)

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  7. I love this post. It's really thought provoking.

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  8. Purpose can not be framed outside of identity, which calls on each of us to be conscious and mindful of who we are. "Who am I" is only half the question; the other half follows naturally.
    Each of us is a creation of God, from this fact is our collective purpose derived. We draw our individual purpose from where we fit in GOD's grand masterplan for all eternity.

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    1. Thanks Untonyto
      Just a thought (not to put you on the spot here, I'm just enquiring)
      What if someone does not believe that they are created by God, where would they draw that purpose from? and how do you help that person realise that they have a part to play in society or what if you do believe in God but still have no answers as to your purpose?
      Thanks for commenting here, it's appreciated.

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  9. My purpose in life is to live a life of purpose. Being significant. Great blogg

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  10. I have thoughts on my own purpose but would like to pick up on your question of purpose or lack of it affecting people in the form of depression.
    I have seen people with intense purpose in life or people with strong beliefs suffer from depression. Sometimes having a purpose, goal or desire can itself lead to depression, when an individual feels they are not achieving what they could or should. For many being out of control leads to a state of depression. For others being in control and not succeeding leads to depression. For a few being in control and succeeding can lead to depression.

    The dictionary defines depression as "Psychiatry . a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason." by that it suggests that it is not impossible to have purpose, plans and desire and still be depressed.

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    1. I did not think anyone implied that it was the solitary reason for depression. I am caught between whether lack of purpose would be a reason for depression, or a symptom of it, or a combination of both. But certainly a great number of people with depression list one of their anxieties as their lack of direction and motivation.

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    2. John, you also have a valid point here. We do see many famous and well known people who have absolutely everything life can offer. But, because of their overwhelming desire, intense purpose or goals for their life, they do burn out and/or suffer from various illnesses trying to get to the top or just by wanting much more than they already have.

      There are a lot of established stars who do actually suffer from depression. Thanks for you comments.

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  11. Well well interesting again ! :) I'm just a little late on this one, for not spending my time at computer on this week that much.

    It's important for one to have some sort of purpose and goals in her/his life. Human needs some kind of destination to achieve and direction to go. I'm not into belief system of any kind or never had any burning ambitions becoming anything when I was a kid. As I have early mentioned I did spend years of my life living in the grey deppression without direction for different reasons, but now when my life is finally good I've built some dreams.

    And trying to achieve my dreams drives me forward and gives happiness and some kind of purpose for my living.

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    1. Hello Amethyst. Yes I do remember comments about your life and I too am happy that you are now on track and building dreams. It takes a strong person to do this. It is also a good thing that by having dreams it has given you purpose in life.Thanks again for commenting.

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  12. This may come across as a cliche but it really isn't meant to. My purpose in life is to bring as many people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ that I can before His imminent return. Amen!

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    1. Thanks Abound. Doesn't sound like a cliche to me. I'm happy for you. A question though: in your experience does this purpose that you have act as an effective antidote against the kind of things which I have listed above, ie: anxiety, loneliness and depression etc? I would be interested to hear some more from you, and thanks for your comment.

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  13. About 18 months ago I was struggling with this same question. Really struggling. I then read a book about finding your purpose and it really helped me to start digging - and also redefine what purpose is. Purpose doesn't have to be for someone else, although that is popular, it can be as simple as wanting to dig your fingers in the mud on a regular basis - feel the earth - to be a gardener. In childhood and adolescence we are guided in million different directions, rarely where we want to go. Finding our way back to the cross roads can be a bit of a process. You need to dismantle what you enjoy, to find the ingredients of it and decide what is common about everything you love doing. And then... It'll suddenly start to reveal itself.

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  14. Thanks Spirit Skye Smith. I quite like what you have written, as it is quite a different way of looking at things ie 'dismantle what you enjoy' etc.. especially when you are in the midst of chaos, not knowing whether to go left or right. Thanks again for your input.

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  15. PErhaps you are right to a point, but for me, I know I was born to sign and to write. That is my purpose. I love to do it and no one told me that was something in my life that I;d be simply living for. But that is the ultimate purpose of my existence in my eyes. At least that is what I believe I was born to do.

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    1. Thanks Musiqal1. It is good to know what you purpose is, as there are many people who are totally lost as to why they are here.

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  16. Viktor Frankl's 'Man's search for meaning' is an interesting read. He says that most people died because they lost hope ... meaning. I think we have an innate sense that there is supposed to be a meaning, which is interesting. Personally, as a God botherer, I believe the reason we have that is that we're supposed to seek Him.

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