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Finding a Purpose in Life

By Rita Maulucci (Registered Psychologist)

“Here is a test to see if your mission on earth is finished. If you are alive, it isn’t.”
Francis Bacon

What is purpose? Purpose provides meaning in our life and it serves as a principle around which to organise ourselves. Our purpose is something, which resonates with our soul or spirit, and it is an expression and celebration of our uniqueness. Jaworski makes an observation about purpose in the following quote.

“I discovered that people are not really afraid of dying; they’re afraid of not ever having lived, not ever having deeply considered their life’s higher purpose, and not ever having stepped into that purpose and at least tried to make a difference in this world.”

We all have an innate or grand mission, if you like, and that is to grow and evolve as a person. However, some people have a unique direction or vision in life – they know what will bring meaning into their lives. For example, Nelson Mandela’s vision was to end apartheid, Mother Theresa’s was to help the poor, Van Gogh’s was to create great visual imagery and Fred Hollow’s was to bring relief to those suffering from cataracts. A purpose is something that you don’t necessarily choose but it is something you are compelled to do – your purpose chooses you. These people have made a positive contribution to individuals or to society in some way. Clearly having a known purpose in life shapes people and gives meaning.

Our life’s purpose is connected to our life plan: the lessons we need to learn and the potential we can fulfil. However, many people cannot emphatically state their specific purpose in life. It is not that they do not know; it may be they are so busy managing their lives that they have never consciously thought about it.

We don’t have to have a great purpose in life. Many people feel drawn to ‘changing the world’ and that’s fine but for the rest the purpose can be to simply love. Mother Teresa understood this and expressed it in the following quote.

“In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

Some examples of a purpose are:

  • To make the world a better place.
  • To Create.
  • To help and serve others.
  • To bring out the best in myself.
  • To be peaceful and happy.
  • To spread peace.
  • To learn something new every day.
  • To grow and evolve as a person.
  • To just ‘be’.
  • To learn how to love more fully and unconditionally.
  • To develop trust, faith and courage.
  • To be more spiritual.
  • To ‘green’ the planet.
  • To open our hearts.
  • To connect to ourselves and to nature.
  • To lead social change.

Our commitments and our goals are greatly enhanced by having a purpose in life because our purpose is present in each of them. If you struggle to find a purpose, consider the type of future you would like in five years time and this may give you a clue. Consider this quote by Lao-tse:

“The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.”

This quote is very powerful because, although it appears very simple, it challenges the reader to ‘be yourself’. We experience having a purpose each time we make a choice to be who we really are. If you feel you have no purpose or vision, don’t despair because it takes time and commitment to find one. It may mean you simply may not be ready to commit to a purpose as yet.

More articles:  1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 . 7 . 8 . 9 . 10 . 11 . 12 . 13