How to Find Life’s Purpose — Hint, It’s Not What You Think
One of the most common questions people ask me is, “What is the purpose of Life?” Or more often, “What is my purpose?” It’s a question I dread. Not because there is no easy answer, but because there is no answer that can fully satisfy the intellect. The question itself presumes that our purpose lies elsewhere — outside of us.
It’s a common notion that there is some secret, grand purpose to life we are here to fulfill. If only we knew what it was, we could go about fulfilling it. But the truth is, finding your purpose does not mean all your present responsibilities will drop away — nor does purpose promise a more glamorous or prominent lifestyle.
Rather than searching for your purpose, or dharma, outside of yourself, ask why you’re feeling lost or unfulfilled. Why are you searching for a purpose in the first place? To truly consider these big life questions, start focusing on smaller, manageable ones.
Start with a Daily Purpose
Give every day a particular theme and purpose. Ask yourself, What is my purpose for life today? Setting a daily purpose lessens the pressure and overwhelm so you don’t feel the need to figure everything out right now. Monday’s life purpose might be to love everyone you meet. Tuesday’s life purpose may be to become more consciously aware of divine presence. Wednesday might be all about not reacting negatively to any outward circumstances, and then on Thursday, you might make a prayer for every person you dislike.
Think of Purpose Like a Theme
See what it feels like to have an entire month dedicated to fulfilling one purpose, such as loving more. Build from there. If it helps, use a calendar and assign purposeful themes to each week or each month. This way, every day of your life will always feel purposeful. And while you continue to fulfill your daily purposes, a magical thing might happen — you may notice you start to feel happier and more fulfilled — more on purpose. Over time, it will become more and more clear what your dharma, your soul’s purpose, truly is. Allow yourself to be surprised.
When we’re able to break down the spiritual path toward enlightenment into realistic, everyday practices, all vagueness disappears, and out of the fog of confusion shines forth the sun of a clear and purposeful life.
Try this free audio class, Morning Meditation: Set an Intention, by mindfulness coach Alison Hutchens.