In today’s culture, a new trend has surfaced around an age-old topic. A topic in which we may never know the answer. That topic? Finding your purpose.
We all want to find out why we are here, what our real purpose is for life. No one wants to have the feeling of “my life has no purpose”, or, “I don’t know what to do with my life…”, it’s an empty meaningless existence. We are here for a reason, right?
In today’s entertainment driven culture, we are surrounded by examples of people with true “purpose”. They range from television idols, people who are a step above us in the career path we’ve chosen, basically everywhere we go.
For some reason, we think that other people have it all figured out and have already found meaning in life. Generally these are people who are more successful than we are, or seem content with their day-to-day life.
The truth about these people? They don’t know anymore about purpose than we do, they just found something they love to do and are good at doing. They are people just like we are… We can ALL find so much more than a so-called “purpose” in our lives.
We spoke with PepPod’s CEO, Jen Pearce, about purpose. Here’s her thoughts:
I feel that we set ourselves up for failure when we seek to “find our purpose”. You hear this phrase constantly from folks, particularly when adults provide advice to kids when making decisions on their next steps in life. Finding your purpose makes it seem like you only have one and you must find it in order to be happy. This is an unachievable goal and it leads to a feeling of failure.
We do not have one choice to make, one path to find or one end result to seek. There are an infinite amount of possibilities in life, many choices to make and many journeys to take. By believing that we must find our one purpose we think that if we aren’t feeling completely fulfilled with each choice we make then we must be failing, and must try even harder or we will never be truly happy.
Every time you make a choice, you must say no to an infinite amount of options.
We are constantly bombarded with the message that those who are successful found their true path through their choices. Occasionally these same folks will confess to a few failed choices as “critical steps” but still imply that these failures led them to “finding their path”. It’s as if there was only one path all along that lead to their happiness and they were one of the few lucky ones who found the answer.
Social media and our social lives are filled with constant reminders and false impressions that millions of others are living lives on their most fulfilling path. Pictures and videos and posts showing exciting and fulfilling activities all there at your fingertips to remind you that whatever you are doing is not enough.
Is it any wonder that our mental health is suffering in our country with messages like these? Having to say no to infinite other paths creates extreme stress. When you believe that you must make the perfect choice or else you will become even farther away from your purpose, then stress, depression and a deep sense of failure is the inevitable outcome.
I’d like for us to reframe the discussion. I’d like for all of us to take a step back and truly think through humanity and what it means, why we are here and where we are going together as a community.
Humans, by their nature, are social creatures who need at the most basic level food, water, shelter AND other humans. We would wither away without community or people who love us. This latter need is so deep within us that our most terrible situations are when we feel truly alone. Solitary confinement is one of the most effective forms of torture because of this need. People go crazy when left alone for too long (think the movie Cast Away).
When humans do not feel love, they become something we deem not human (e.g. serial killers, terrorists...). We need each other. We need community. We need love.
We all have the same purpose: to serve humanity. By doing that, you will find purpose, feel fulfilled, and find meaning in life. So rather than making choices to “find our purpose”, feeling like we have failed along the way and keeping the focus on only ourselves, let’s start thinking about using our best selves to serve others.
Recognize a gift you have that you can apply towards this goal. Finding your gift will help you best serve others, and serving others as a goal fulfills ALL of our most basic needs. Thinking of our choices in life with this in mind will inevitably lead to finding our best selves and this above all else will lead to happiness.
By using your best self to serve others, you not only will learn more and more about what makes you truly unique, it will also ground you in a sense of community, realizing we are all in this journey together.
With each choice we make, we learn more and more about ourselves that can help inform us on where we can use our best selves to serve others and build a fantastic community. This is how we can work on finding meaning in life. Isn’t that the world we all want to live in? What could possibly be more fulfilling than this?
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