One of the building blocks to happiness is having a purpose in your life. Your purpose is the motivating force that drives you. It’s why you get up and why you work hard. It’s the reason behind the decisions you make and the steps you take to reach your goals. It’s the primary “why” that pushes you towards your dreams.
A purpose can be simple or transcendental. It can be inward-directed, towards something important to you -such as achieving enlightenment through meditation or writing a great novel -or outward-directed, towards other people or things. Examples of the latter would be taking care of your family, making converts for your church, or stopping clear-cutting in your local national park.
No purpose is better than any other. There’s no such thing as a “bad,” “good,” or “better” purpose. You don’t need to rank them in order of what they do for the world. Each person is unique and so is their purpose.
Ignore anyone who tries to tell you what your purpose in life should be or what it should be focused on. This includes your own brain. A lifetime of social conditioning may trick your mind into believing that only certain things count as a “real” purpose. This is nonsense.
Don’t try to convince yourself that you should imitate Mother Theresa if your real purpose is breeding tulips. Both are valuable and needed in the world!
If you don’t yet know what your purpose is, don’t despair. Not everyone knows right away. Your purpose can also change as you age. When you’re young, it might be about working hard and raising your children, and when they leave the house, it can shift to painting, windsurfing, or saving the blue whales. Such is life.
Start looking for your purpose in the things that are most important to you and the things that make you the happiest. Make lists of each of these and examine them. They hold the key to your purpose. Somewhere on these two lists should be something you love with all your heart, something that drives you to get up and do things.
If you’ve done this and are still lost, it’s time to start trying new things. Make a list of things you’ve never done and start crossing them off. Go places you’ve always wanted to go. Get out and meet new people and have new experiences. Keep an open mind and somewhere along the way, you’ll find the spark that can become your life’s purpose.