As someone who enjoys thinking, I have a lot of admiration for others who are remembered not only for their accomplishments, but also the thoughts they had. Among those I admire is the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Emerson’s now famous quote about the purpose of life has been one of the most influential on my thinking. As detailed in my LinkedIn Bio, it originally stopped me in my tracks. I reflected upon it for a short while and had a great epiphany: The purpose of life is not to be happy, but having a purpose in life is the only thing that will make us happy.
That epiphany encouraged me to develop my own purpose, which involves sharing the gospel and making people laugh, along with helping others find their purpose, develop their skills, and ultimately motivating them to use their gifts to better the world around them.
That mission inspires almost every one of my actions, including this blog.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about you:
Ultimately, no matter how we mask it, we all seek purpose. Those of us who do not are often seeking a temporary substitute that only numbs the need for true purpose. Money, power, fame, acclaim, they all boil down to nothing without fulfilling our deepest desire to have bettered the world.
If you are chasing those things, I ask you to read this section immediately below. For those of you who have purpose, one centered around the betterment of others, go ahead and skip down to the latter section.
If You Lack Purpose:
If you haven’t found your purpose yet, I encourage you to keep searching. Spend some time thinking about what makes you happy. Not short-term happiness or momentary pleasures, but deep, fulfilling happiness. The kind that makes you feel meaningful. Oftentimes, it involves helping others.
If you’ve never experienced that deep feeling of meaning and purpose, I challenge you to find and volunteer for a cause you are passionate about. It could be anything from ending childhood hunger to helping local pets get adopted. Volunteer and share a variety of such experiences, and you’ll soon find one(s) you’ll want to devote more of your life to. These can quickly become your purpose(s).
If You Have A Purpose:
For my readers who have found purpose, there are a few things I’d like to say to you:
First, CONGRATULATIONS! You have found your reason for living, and I hope it will encourage and excite you every day as you work towards pursuing it. In the words of Mark Twain: "The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." You, my friend, have already celebrated both of them! Now continue to celebrate the latter through living out that purpose—I, and the world, cannot wait to see what you do!
Second, I advise that you continue to hone your purpose. It may start broad, like “I want to help pets.” From there, narrow it down to one or two specific areas to which you’d like to devote your “purpose time.” Then, as you get accustomed to those roles, you can try to add more. If you try to do too much too fast, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed and feeling less satisfied than before you found your purpose.
Third, let your purpose transform you. If you’re passionate about a cause, support that cause. You needn’t quit your job or spend all your free time looking to further that cause. In fact, I’d advise against doing those two things. But, when at work or wherever else you may be committed, let your passion shine through. Others are drawn to a person with purpose, and in truth, it helps others like you. Don’t be afraid to share when the opportunity presents itself!
Ultimately, no matter where you are on your purpose journey, from just realizing you need one, to having helped millions of people, there is one thing that will always remain important:
Always focus on the moment right in front of you. It is easy to get lost in a memory past or a future dream. But it is only by fully devoting ourselves to the present that anything eventually happens.
My fellow purpose-seekers: let’s remember the past, look to the future, but live in the present. I can't wait to hear, see, and read about your world-bettering endeavors!