Over the years the question What is the point of life became one of the most popular among people…
Now, the first thing that pops into my head is that finding this purpose entails seeking out the means to fulfilling a vision of what you are meant to be or do in life.
This vision you may or may not have floating around in your brain makes up the way you interact with the world around you, and lays the foundation for the kind of life you want to lead.
However, cultivating the path that leads as close as possible to this vision tends to be the tricky part, and is what leaves many of us scratching our heads wondering how and where exactly we’re supposed to obtain this illusive goal within our lifetime. (Check)
1. Where do I start?
So where does someone start looking for their purpose in life? Is it climbing the corporate ladder? Is it having children? Could you find it hiding behind a palm tree on a resort in Hawaii?
Wherever you go, whatever you do, it will always appear that someone has it more figured out than you. That’s why the adage “Don’t compare yourself to others” exists! Not just to remedy gross feelings of jealousy, but to give us perspective and shape the way we talk and think about ourselves.
Having a sense of purpose may come and go in waves throughout our lives, and may look different from one day to the next.
Having patience for yourself while going through phases that may appear to be purposeless is an invaluable lesson to be learned, and in my experience has been essential in finding true happiness.
2. Growing up with purpose
More often than not in adolescence, it feels as though the people around you are crafting the framework for your life, and your input can at times seem futile.
If we were lucky during our childhood, we had parents that allowed us to genuinely express ourselves in any number of ways and in turn probably feel a bit more confident in the choices we make today as adults based on this autonomy we were given at a young age.
For some of us, we experienced what is affectionately called “helicopter parenting” and most likely had decisions, big and small, made for us in lieu of what we had wanted.
Pressure to act a certain way and to make specific choices caused us to lose this autonomy and despite us realizing it or not, a “purpose” may have been implanted into our lives.
For the most part this wasn’t done maliciously! Parents have an un-quenchable desire to make sure their offspring are safe and well established within society, and this desire isn’t a selfish one.
When we were in grade school, most of the tools we were given for building our lives were geared towards a very specific project.
The project was to get us ready for adult life, for university, for the ‘real world,’ and in having this structure laid out for us we didn’t have to question our fundamental meaning in life very often.
The meaning of our lives were most likely to please (or displease) our parents, impress our peers, and to hand in enough homework to pass onto the next grade.
If we didn’t drop out of high school, we either graduated with a pretty good idea as to what we were going to do next, or like some of us, skimmed by while receiving grades just good enough to get our diploma.
Afterwards, this left us with a few options, namely going to university or entering into the workforce.
Many of us opted for continuing our education, while some of us chose eccentric routes like running away with the circus or breeding cats (both are valid!) Along both of these exciting paths, we experience something fairly new and at times scary; freedom of choice.
For the most part, after grade school is a time when we get to fully experience what it’s like to be an adult and therefor, to make decisions with the freedom of adulthood.
What do we do, now that no one is telling us what we have to do?
(Hellicopter parenting can put young people to the same questions like what is the purpose of life, how do i live a purposeful life, and can turn the mind on finding your purpose mood)
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
(According to that, the higher level of intellegence the human being possesses, the higher purpose of life he will chase. But on every different level questions are basically stil lthe same – what is my purpose, what is a purposeful life, what is the purpose of life etc.)
Maslow was a psychologist who created a five tier model of hierarchal human needs. In doing so, he considered the human pursuit of happiness and created a motivational structure ranging from our physiological necessities to the need for self-actualization.
The five stage model is comprised of what is referred to as “deficiency needs,” and “growth needs.”
Deficiency needs encompass the first four tiers, and include Physiological needs such as food and water, Safety needs such as security, Belongingness and Love needs such as friends and intimate relationships, and Esteem needs such as feelings of accomplishment.
The top tier is where Self-Actualization lies, and is labeled as a Growth need.
So what do these really mean? Well, Deficiency needs motivate people when they aren’t met, and if you continuously deny these needs than they will only grow stronger.
For example, if you’re thirsty and go about your day without drinking any water, you will only become more thirsty as time goes on. They include things we need in order to survive, while also touching on creating meaningful relationships in society.
Growth needs on the other hand, become ever intensifying as you continue to engross yourself in efforts to fulfill them. You may only partially satisfy one of your Growth needs before changing your aim onto another.
Maslow was clear on the way in which humans should go about achieving one’s full potential, and declared that one must satisfy lower level deficit needs before moving onto the next tier.
Really, if you think about it, this makes a whole lot of sense! Without satisfying lower level needs, it would be incredibly difficult to reach your full potential.
Some of us will neglect lower level needs and therefor make it nearly impossible to reach higher level Growth needs, while most people will go through hardships that will knock them down a tier or two regardless of their efforts.
While striving for purpose, it’s important to remember that seeking personal growth can only truly be accomplished once your basic needs are met.
If you’re stuck wondering why you can’t progress in life and continuously are suffering set backs that prevent you from reaching self-actualization, reevaluate the way in which you’re treating your lower level needs and you may find something missing there.
However foreign this concept of hierarchal needs may seem to you, it’s not an unconventional way to approach finding purpose in your life.
If after striving to fulfill all of your basic needs and still not achieving anything close to self-actualization, than the following three unexpected and unconventional ways to finding purpose in your life may be of use to you.
3. Say yes to (almost) everything.
In the movie “Yes Man,” Jim Carrey plays the role of Carl, a guy stuck in a cycle of negativity. After attending a self-help seminar, he decides to spend the next year saying “yes” to everything that comes his way.
In theory, this seems like a revolutionary approach to living your life to the fullest, however, Jim Carrey’s character quickly finds out that not every opportunity should be taken and sometimes saying no is the best thing for you.
Although his life went into a downward spiral shortly after agreeing to everything, the basic message you can take from the movie is that saying “yes” to things, in moderation, will give you endless opportunities for success (and failures) in life.
Of course this doesn’t mean saying yes to dangerously irrational ideas and situations that would most definitely bring you harm, but instead challenges you to go outside of your comfort zone.
We spend a lot of our lives living vicariously through the misadventures and successes of others. While some of us enjoy remaining in a secure and comfortable box, there are many of us who are trying to find something bigger than ourselves to pour our energy into.
A fear of failure stops us from saying yes to new pursuits, and the need to appear “put together” and as though you “have it all figured out” overshadows the underlying cry for a purpose that genuinely resonates within our being.
These affirmations don’t have to only take place in huge, life-changing situations. Saying yes to even the smallest of things can add to a complete turn around in your life.
If you’re afraid of heights and someone asks you to go rock climbing, say yes. You don’t have to climb too high, but in saying yes you may discover some aspect of rock climbing that you didn’t know you would enjoy.
Maybe you find along the way that you enjoy the hike to the rock more than the climbing itself, or that your fear of heights was mitigated by just placing a crash mat on the ground underneath you.
There you go! By saying yes, you’ve created a new experience in your life that has an un foretold amount of potential. Just by having more experiences and saying no to remaining stagnant, you’ve unleashed the potential to find a more meaningful, and purposeful life. (Check)
4. Contemplate death.
Thinking about the fact that we’re all going to die is an uncomfortable experience at first. However, it doesn’t always have to be thought about in a negative way.
By contemplating your own death, you’re entertaining the idea that this may be the only life you have to live, and in not taking control you are directly wasting your own time.
Taking a negative approach to thinking about your own demise can in fact be turned into an opportunistic and positive outlook when you consider that although you have a finite timeline, you can do nearly anything you set your mind to.
In not taking for granted the weird happenstance of just existing, you can directly find beauty and significance in the smallest of things.
Ironically, with big picture stuff like the cessation of life, meditating on death can help you focus on smaller picture things that come along with remaining present-minded and appreciative of everything around you.
The very things you thought of as purposeless and meaningless in your life, may start to show themselves as significant and important to you once you put yourself into this head space every now and again.
I mean, no one here is telling you to think of death all of the time, but with semi-frequent meditations on the subject, it can help you realize your purpose in life, big or small. Cherishing what you already have inspires motivation and action, both of which contribute to having a sense of purpose.
5. Do nothing.
Last but not least, try doing nothing. This may seem counterintuitive, but by doing nothing you will most likely find out what it is that you actually want to do.
This doesn’t necessitate quitting your job or completely isolating yourself, but by trying not to try so hard, an unforeseen direction may appear to you.
Instead of continuing with your normal schedule, try taking time away to separate yourself from the things that tether you to your reality. (Check)
This is exceptionally useful for those of us who may already have a purpose sorted out, but are having difficulty finding a way to manifest our vision into something tangible and meaningful.
In taking a step back, you free yourself from obligations and milestones you’ve created for yourself that may not be serving you any longer.
Reevaluating your purpose and seeing if it’s still in line with what you presently consider to be important is one of the most beneficial (and at times, excruciating) ways to quickly recenter yourself and your quest for purpose. (Check)
Best Wishes, HapTips Team!