Who am I and why am I here?
Tell me you haven’t asked this of yourself at some time in your life. I think everyone has asked this in some moment of quiet reflection. I certainly have.
Is there a purpose to my life?
Is there some reason I’m alive?
Is there something I’m supposed to be doing?
Pondering my life’s purpose, attempting to answer questions such as those above has occupied a significant portion of my reflective reading and thinking.
The reason for life—if indeed there is one—is something widely debated, but remains one of the great mysteries of life. Why am I alive? Why is everyone and every living thing alive? What’s the purpose of life?
So many questions. Lots of answers, but none that can be proven. None that can be tested scientifically.
What has eight decades of living taught me about this topic?
I have a purpose in life. It’s mine and mine alone, unique to me. My life purpose—and yours, too—has little to do with what I do. It has to do with who I am. Who I am being, not what I am doing.
My life purpose is to live and behave in ways that conform and build upon the core qualities—states of being—that define me.
What does this mean? What are states of being? This can be hard to get your head around, but maybe an illustration of my life purpose will help.
My current understanding of my life purpose is:
To be peaceful.
To love unconditionally.
To be courageous.
To grow continuously.
To use my insights and other strengths in the service of others.
These are ways of being, qualities demonstrated by things I do, but independent of what I do. I don’t have to solve some world-wide problem. I don’t have to change the world. I just have to be me. That doesn’t mean I can’t solve world hunger if that’s how I decide to apply my skills, but what I do is a choice. I can do anything while living a life of purpose if what I do allows me to engage the qualities of being summarized above.
Emotions are Indicators of Truth
How do I know this set of qualities comprises my life purpose? When I display these qualities I feel good; I feel like the real me. My gut feelings are these are right for me, the real me.
It is simple and straight forward, really. At least to me it is. When I feel positive about myself and what I am being/thinking/doing, I know I am fulfilling my life purpose. It’s not what I do. It’s who I am.
Have you ever expressed the thought “That’s not me?” We’re blessed with a system of emotions that help us understand who we are. Act in accordance with purpose and you’re filled with positive emotion. Act in opposition to purpose and you just don’t feel right. Something feels wrong, negative, off.
When my thinking/being/doing align with my purpose I feel so good—complete, fulfilled, satisfied. I feel like me. And I think that’s the purpose of life. To recognize who I am and to be me.
Being Versus Doing
Now here’s how I think what I do fits in with purpose. My life purpose is composed of ways of being. How I’m thinking, the states of being guiding me; i.e. being peaceful, courageous, etc. However, the only way I can experience my purpose is by doing things that allow me to express those states of being that are me.
Being an unconditionally loving person, for example. It’s not enough to state that intent. I have to live it to experience it. I have to love unconditionally, even when it’s hard. There are many ways I can experience my life purpose.
Bottom Line: My life purpose is being who I am. I experience my life purpose by what I choose to do.
Finding Your Life Purpose
No one told me what my purpose in life was. No one can tell me, it’s up to me to uncover and discover who I am. That journey is frustrating and wonderfully rewarding. And it takes some time and effort. Lots of self-reflection, focusing on qualities of being: When I’m at my best, Of those I most admire, While doing things I love to do, Considering my legacy, and more.
I explored several ways of finding my purpose in life. All of them helped contribute, adding clarity and reinforcing earlier understandings. Though other people can help (see Sources and Resources below), this is a do-it-yourself activity.
I’ve captured several of the processes that were helpful to me in a small book, What is life all about? How do I find my purpose? 12 Paths to find the meaning of life. It’s available on Amazon and other major booksellers as an eBook and print version.
I’ll post a follow up to illustrate some of the twelve processes that I’ve utilized and found helpful. Click the follow button to be alerted or just check back.
Sources and Resources:
Purpose image courtesy Flickr.com user Mia Coffee Snow, CC Attribution License
Self Reflection image courtesy Flickr.com user Adrian Clark, CC Attribution License
Life On Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life – W. Bradford Swift