The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away ~ Anonymous
What Is My Purpose? – That’s one question that everyone asks about their life at one point or another. It’s also a question most people have no idea how to answer with any real certainty. Whether we think about it or believe it, each and every one of us has a genuine purpose. Though it is highly significant, it might not be what you are thinking.
Our purpose does not have to be world changing or dramatic or even something others will give you recognition for. It may be as simple as something you do everyday, right now and not even realize it for what it is. Discovering and recognizing your purpose enriches your life, how you live each day and see your future. And you never know, it very well might change the world or someones life without you even knowing it has.
Most people find it hard to discover their purpose because they associate it with some particular action or "calling” when in fact it is much more basic and simple than we think. Many of us are actively doing things within our purpose right now and simply fail to recognize what it is. We all tend to find our greatest purpose in these eight areas of our lives.
Fighting A Good Fight
Because your purpose in life is such an important aspect of who you are and how you feel about your life, I am hoping that you will discover that at least one of these areas brings you a great sense of purpose. I don’t necessarily believe you need to feel great purpose in all these areas, I certainly do not, but I do feel you should discover which of these areas are important to you and to what degree in your life. Or maybe you will simply realize how important one particular area really is but you realize you have taken it for granted.
Reflecting on these areas will help you know where you feel the greatest sense of purpose about your life. Focusing on and developing developing these areas will also develop a greater mindset of happiness and a deeper sense of success about your life just as it is today. It will also prove to be the energy and confidence you need to create an extraordinary tomorrow.
Let’s get started with the single most powerful and prevalent area that we find purpose.
If you are committed to a faith based spiritual path in your life, you are twice as likely to say you are “very happy”. To put it another way “twice as likely” translates to 66% more likely. Can you say WOW?! Your Faith in your spiritual walk is the greatest mechanism that allows us to feel purpose, meaning and higher levels of happiness.
Number ONE, First and foremost in my life is the tremendous joy and satisfaction I receive from knowing what God’s purpose is for my life. If nothing else were present that alone gives me hope and happiness and a great sense of success knowing that through His grace I am able to touch and be a positive influence on other people’s lives. My faith gives my life the greatest sense of purpose.
There have literally been thousands of studies done by researchers from religious organizations of all faiths, scientific groups including agnostics, atheists and psychologists from all around the world on the subject of faith and its effect on one’s happiness, fulfillment and enjoyment of life. Though they differ in their views of why, most all share a common conclusion:
People of sincere faith, regardless of their religion, or lack of religion, are typically happier people.
These studies confirm that faith based people are happier, better able to handle stress and more content with life. These people are even shown to have lower blood pressure, recover from illness more easily and faster, live longer lives and admit to having a deeper sense of fulfillment, purpose and meaning in their life.
So what is the difference between faith and religion? Religion is simply an organized collection of beliefs and rituals usually based on the belief in a higher spiritual power (God) that helps explain humanity’s role in the universe. It is estimated that there are over 4,200 organized religions in the world today. Religion and being religious is like simply belonging to a “club” if you have no faith in what that religion stands for or what it does for you
I am going to explain faith as I experience it from a Christian point of view, noting that the concept of faith is also felt by many other religions. Faith allows us believe that because of God, we can have a greater expectation of goodness in life even if circumstances aren’t pointing in that direction. It keeps us going in the roughest of times and provides hope when all seems hopeless. It connects us back to a stream of life when we feel overwhelmed.
Living a life of faith in a greater spiritual power other than ourselves (God) allows us to feel like we belong to something greater, bigger and more important than our own existence. It lets us feel that our lives have a greater meaning and purpose beyond simply existing until we die. (To me that would represent a life void of hope; rendering it completely meaningless).
Sometimes we find it hard to explain our purpose in terms of an action we are supposed to be taking but believing our lives mean more than just existing for the tiny few years we are alive instills a an even greater sense of purpose to our lives and influences our impact on the people and the world around us. Through faith we feel as if we are part of something far greater than ourselves. Part of an eternal life that impacts others and if by no other action, sharing that faith with others is a fulfilling purpose all in itself. For me it’s the relationship I have with Jesus Christ and the faith I place in Him that gives me strength when I have no strength and a constant view of a bright and beautiful life even in hard times. My faith and the sharing of my faith lets me feel like my life has meaning and provides a very rewarding sense of purpose by knowing that I wasn’t simply some an accidental occurrence with no significance.
The family unit is at the very core of human life. As a matter of fact it’s a core unit for many other animal species as well. As humans we have a primal need to belong to a family unit. Our blood relatives give us a place of belonging and kinship like no other we will ever experience.
No matter what we feel about our family alive today or our ancestors of the past, we all have a heritage we belong to. Many people can trace their heritage back thousands of years into cultures long gone. That linage into a bloodline greater than ourselves will often influence our way of life and how we see ourselves in the world in relation to others. It is often a great source of pride and purpose in many people’s lives.
How often we speak to our family members and the quality of those relationships has a direct influence on the amount of happiness we feel. Beyond the time we spend with and the emotional bonding established between individual family members, relatives also provide a meaningful and powerful system of support and approval. In many ways, whether we admit it or not, on some level they will serve as a measuring stick by which we gauge our feelings of success. We gain meaning to our efforts, achievements and ultimately the success we feel in life by how we’re judged within our families.
Family does not have to mean only our blood relatives or spouses and the typical mom, dad, child formation. In today’s society there are many forms of the family unit. I will not go into each of them but it is important to say that no matter whom you sincerely call family; your happiness is a reflection of your relationship within that family.
Family may also mean creating a bond with someone we consider greater than a friend. Someone for instance that has no known or living relatives may have created a family bond with others. Or perhaps you are estranged from you own family and have found a similar bond with friends and other individuals you look upon as if they were related. No matter how you define it, feeling like you are a part of a family is an important part of us feeling purpose.
There is a special feeling of happiness you have when you feel like you are part of someone’s life in a positive way because they want you there. It brings a feeling of belonging and companionship. Good quality and emotionally deep friendships are essential to living a successful life filled with happiness. We find love, understanding and enjoyment through our friends as well as a support system that extends beyond the understanding and reaches of our own family.
As humans we aren’t meant to live in isolation. When we do, loneliness sets in, depression ensues, and we find ourselves in a downward spiral of negativity and withdrawal. Healthy relationships with friends are critical to the happiness we enjoy. The key to feeling this special bond is spending time with people you like and want to be with and not just anybody that wants to spend time with you.
Some of the best advice I was ever given in life about friendship was: Choose my friends wisely, otherwise you may not like the ones that choose you.
Advice I truly had to learn was completely true the hard way. And since learning how true it was, I now have fewer friends but I now have friends that love and respect me for who I am and not for what I can do for them. Okay, a little side tracked there but a lesson I wanted to share anyway. (wink)
People claim and brag about how many friends they have but it’s the quality of those friendships that really matter. Having a lot of people around you doesn’t mean you have people that matter to you or you to them. Quality friendships fill our lives with good conversation, good company, sincere understanding and people you can rely on for help when you need it.
Friend relationships let us be who and act like we want to without feeling the judgment of strangers or our own family members. Even Jesus found it hard to preach in his home city and to his own family. Friends will be more accepting and supportive of those crazy dreams you may have. They will be more understanding, forgiving and constructive if you mess up. Friendships simply add quality to any life thus increasing happiness many times greater than a life without them.
Love and happiness simply go hand in hand. We need to feel loved and secure in order to be happy. We also need to love back or the balance is disturbed. Researchers showed that it is the quality, not the quantity of our relations that directs and maintains our path to happiness.
Did you know married people tend to be happier than single people? To me that was an interesting statistic considering the current divorce rate. But that study also mentioned that generally speaking 90% of all divorced people will remarry because of feelings of unhappiness being alone.
Happiness does not depend on our nationality, sex, age or possessions. Happiness is love related. True acts of love can lead to lasting happiness in our lives. Though your happiness truly does generate from within you, that happiness within is enriched, empowered and enlarged greatly by other people’s love for and acceptance of you.
The quality of love you receive is directly related to the quality of love you give. The love you feel for another on a romantic level and that love you receive in return provides a different level of purpose in one’s life than the love shared between friends or even family members. Romantic love helps us feel wanted on a deeper emotional level than any other love relationship.
Love helps us feel purpose as we fill the need and desire to care for, nurture, protect and provide for another. By doing these things we also receive great feelings of emotional and personal success. It is because of this natural desire to fulfill this purpose that we as humans find great happiness in finding that special mate to fill this need to receive and to give this level of love to another.
A Good Fight
Fighting a conflict against evil or for a greater good brings feeling of pride and satisfaction. Whether we are victorious or not in our efforts the resolve to stand up for something important is not only a source of purpose but is also a source of feeling success in defending our convictions.
It’s in our very nature to recognize the struggle between good and evil in everyday life. Although this line is often blurred because we or society has become accustom to and accepting of things that are inherently bad, we will still stand up to fight against what we believe to be bad, destructive or evil whenever it seems necessary to us.
Having something to fight for provides a strong sense of purpose and meaning because it allows us to stand tall against injustice and evil towards someone we love or something we strongly believe in. It also allows us to feel as though we are making a difference not just in our own lives but more importantly in the lives of others.
Protesters at a rally, for example, display great pride and enthusiasm in their fight against what they see as an injustice. Some may even face ridicule, imprisonment and even physical confrontation in defense of what they believe to be right.
There is great pride, fulfillment and purpose felt through the struggle to stand up for what you believe to be right.
Many fill this purpose by volunteering their time or supporting a charity they feel strongly about or maybe even in support of a group that fights for a common good.
The triumph over evil has always been a source of great pride and achievement throughout history. When we see something bad, unjust or evil taking place, our first response is to make it right or even to take a stand against it in some manner; physically if necessary.
This reaction is ingrained into our lives from very young beginning with bedtime stories where good always triumphs over evil. Stories like these go back through all of known recorded history. Why? Because it is such a huge part of mans need to feel purpose, and what better way to feel purpose than in the protection of someone or something. Again, victorious or not, just standing up for what you believe is right, good and just makes us feel empowered, important and makes us feel as though we serve a purpose.
There are those occasions where we must stand in defense of our own selves. Perhaps even times that we will even fight for something we desire. Fighting for your own preservation, protection or provision instills great feelings of worth but fighting for the protection of yourself, someone or in defense of something you believe strongly in is simply life changing and provides a much deeper sense of fulfillment and meaning in your life.
One of the first areas of life that most people relate to when you speak of success is what they do for a living. What you do for a living can be a greater source of pride, purpose and happiness in your life than the simply the paycheck it provides. Most people will spend over half their life actually working at their career.
For some, they are blessed with a career they love. The time they spend there is not a time of stress, frustration or unwanted responsibility, it a time of enjoyment, pleasure and happiness. It is a place where they feel achievement, fulfillment of purpose and success.
People that feel happy about and experience fulfillment of purpose and success through their career often excel and find more success than even more educated or qualified co workers.
Sometimes this success is not a matter of the position they hold or even money, although usually a common result. Sometimes the success that is felt comes from the pure sense of fulfillment of purpose gained through the satisfaction they get out of doing what they do and the effect that job has on others.
Yet with others this is a place that ends up on the short end of the stick. Instead of a career you simply have nothing more than a job. A place you feel you have to go every day, you don’t enjoy it, and it’s often a source of frustration. To you it’s nothing more than a source for a paycheck. For those in this position there are often feelings of being trapped which result in feelings of frustration and a loss of control over your own life. This feeling of not being in control is often a cause for feeling depressed and lonely.
We often identify ourselves by our job or career. We place great importance on this position. The positioning of our career as our identity can be one of the biggest sources of dissatisfaction, displeasure and unhappiness in our lives. How do you view the opportunities your job or career offers?
I once read an inspiring story of a man who worked a very mundane job in the shipping department of a large manufacturer. The job was not glamorous, didn’t pay well and offered little to no opportunity for much growth. Not exactly a job most people would consider a source of pride or purpose and yet for this man it was.
This man loved his job. He looked forward to going every day. He always had a smile on his face. When asked about why he was always so happy he explained that although the job often leaves him tired and sore at the end of his shift and he didn’t earn much money so that made his life hard sometimes, the job itself was not the source of his happiness or purpose by any means.
He went on to explain that it wasn’t the actual job that gave him so much satisfaction it was the opportunities it provided him to be a mentor as sorts to the much younger men and women that worked in his department. He noticed that each day for them would often include goofing off, not taking pride in their work and basically not taking the job seriously. This frustrated their supervisor and he was worried that they may lose their job.
Instead of sitting aside and watching these young men and women lose their job, he saw an opportunity to share a little wisdom about work ethic and the rewards of a job well done at times of lunch and at breaks. He felt that by sharing his stories and wisdom with younger people that perhaps it would somehow help these young men and women along the way. This man did not like his job but he absolutely loved his career. He found purpose where many would find frustration. Like most things, it’s all about what you do with what you have.
What is it you love to do in your free time? Is it golf, fishing, blogging or maybe even reading sci-fi or romance novels? I like helping people bring their dreams into reality. It doesn’t matter what you do, the fact is our hobby is an important aspect of our life and can be a great source for enjoyment, achievement and fulfillment. Whatever it is for you, it’s important to have some activity you enjoy, that allows you to unplug from everything else.
Although most do not make a living at their hobby, it is usually an area that most people take great pride in learning all they can about it, so much so that some may even be considered experts in the field. Others just love doing it even though they’re not very good at it. Kind of like my golf game, not good but I love playing just the same. No matter what it is or how good you are at it, we usually exert great energy and focus on our hobbies when we get the chance to enjoy them.
Unlike our jobs, our hobbies allow us to have complete control to explore all the possibilities at our own pace. We have control over when we do it and for how long. (Well, for the most part anyway.) We can even get the satisfaction of teaching our hobbies to others and sharing our hobbies with people we enjoy being around.
Having the ability to feel like you’re in total control and the satisfaction of sharing your expertise and time with people of your own choosing provides a huge sense of purpose in our lives. Hobbies do more than fill our free time with activities that we find enjoyable; they increase our happiness levels many times over.
Make no mistake that giving money and donating unwanted items to charities is greatly rewarding in their own right, however, they do not even compare to the feeling you get, and the purpose you feel in the giving of yourself.
We have briefly gone over how our family, friends, faith, our fight for what’s right, our job and even our hobbies help us to find purpose in our lives. Still there is one source of purpose that includes all of these things and truly gives us a wonderful source of, fulfillment, achievement, success and happiness in our lives.
The giving of ourselves. Giving our time and the sharing of our faith and wisdom are the most wonderful and rewarding sources of purpose in anyone’s life.
For me the greatest thing that I can ever share is my faith. I can be having a really tough day but if I am ever presented with an opportunity to share my faith in Jesus Christ with someone else, not only do I immediately feel recharged, enthused and all over happier but it will usually change my whole attitude for the rest of the day. Not to mention the huge sense of purpose I feel…after all, to me I have just had the opportunity to share the greatest thing I will ever have to share with anyone, my faith! Want to feel purpose in your life? Try sharing your faith with someone.
Another completely fulfilling thing you can share is your time. There is great satisfaction that comes from serving others. Whether it’s volunteering at a charity, being a mentor to a youth, or just simply being available when a friend or stranger is in need, your time is a valuable asset not only to you but to others that get to share it with you.
The giving of your time to others is like no other gift you could ever offer. Time is irreplaceable and precious, making the sacrifice of it that much more special. In giving selflessly of your time you will in turn feel pride and purpose like never before.
Teaching or sharing what we know to others is also important for us to feel purpose. This transfer of knowledge and wisdom is the ultimate end goal of everything we learn as humans. The greatest achievements of the world would be still unknown if they were never shared with others. And those advancements certainly would not be part of our lives today if that wisdom and knowledge had not been taught to others so that they may also understand and share.
As a parent, sharing with your children all your learned wisdom may seem like a natural act, and indeed it is but it also instills a great sense of pride and purpose in us to be able to mold their young minds in a positive way.
Teaching what we know to others, our own children or not, is a basic human desire that we all have whether we realize it or not.
Our faith means nothing if we do not share our source of that faith and hope with others. Our fight for what’s good and just in the world means nothing if we do not share the cause of our convictions. Our jobs are only a wasted trade off of time for money if you’ve not taken advantage of sharing time or knowledge with a fellow co worker, and even our hobbies become a mundane and UN-enjoyable task without someone to share them with.
The sharing of ourselves and our time is the single most rewarding and purposeful activity we as humans can do. It increases humanity as a whole on a scale much greater than you could ever imagine.
Imagine the possibility that one person affected by something you shared or taught could in fact go on to influence thousands of others who if in turn simply continued to share that same thing with their friends could ultimately reach millions. It happens every day.
Still there is some care in the giving of ourselves that must be taken. Like most things, anything in excess can turn out an opposite reaction. Being the “know-it-all” is seldom a good thing in most social circles. Giving so much of your time to others without taking time to recharge yourself and to be recharged by others can result in a burn out that benefits no one. Seek out opportunities to give of yourself and reap huge personal rewards but be careful not to become a hindrance which profits no one.
The sharing of who you are, giving of your time, your compassion, wisdom and love are all selfless acts with one huge selfish reward…The feeling that your life has PURPOSE.
Look for further discussions about your happiness and success in upcoming posts. Stay Tuned…Better yet sign up to follow by email!
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