Humans Need a Purpose

Purpose can be a driving force

It struck me recently that humans only seem to function well when we have a purpose.  If we don’t we can’t seem to motivate ourselves or find much joy in life which is when the wheels start coming off our existence.

Consider history.  Time and time again humans have been at war which then gave the participants purpose even if the aim or method wasn’t admirable.  That’s why I think religion has played such a huge part in our development – that need for purpose, something to strive towards. (I am not religious – Buddhism is the only one I tend to like the sound of and it seems more of a philosophy rather than organised religion)

Of course, for some their purpose is simply to survive which, whilst deplorable that we still have situations where this is the case, is still a purpose.

The business and psychological model for this is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which has at its pinnacle the need for self-actualization…ouch. In simpler terms, a need to fulfil a purpose, something outside of our own needs; to become the ultimate version of ourselves. We need to achieve more than just functional matters.

pyramid

Source: By User:Factoryjoe (Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs.svg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Many of us hover between love/belonging and self-esteem. Sadly, too many are stuck in the red zone of survival but there are those whose purpose, whose mission in life is to change that. People who champion the rights of the poor, the oppressed, the disadvantaged the discriminated against are trying to lift them out of the danger zone and into safety.

Are you lucky enough to see a purpose in your life?

These days we need to consider what our personal purpose is.  Choosing what it might be is a skill in itself.  Do you want to make a difference for the good of yourself and all?  Or do you just want to feather your own nest – while selfish I allow that it is a purpose. While providing for the comfort of your family and yourself is a noble purpose, after a while we can lift our heads and look outwards. If your family is well cared for does it not pain you to see that others are not so fortunate?

Many people feel this nagging sense of under-achievement, even when, apparently, they are doing well by most modern measures. This is that still small voice of self-actualization speaking to you. You might ask yourself, “Is this all there is to life?”

Do you feel as if you are making a difference? Perhaps you have a passion that has been dormant for some time while you went about the business of working, providing, building a career, having a family and “succeeding”.  Passion and purpose are often closely linked. When we are doing something we feel passionate about, that truly matters to us, then we are lucky to have a true purpose in life.

Finding your purpose

jfk-quoteI know my purpose; it is to serve.  I want to leave whatever or whomever I come into contact with in a better frame of mind or with a more joyous outlook precipitated by what I have said or done.  Doesn’t always work but that is what I strive for.

It took me a long time to look in a mirror after I was scarred, and even now I tend to use mirrors in a practical way – to check my makeup is on properly.  However, every now and then, as I do, I recommend staring at yourself in the mirror, I mean deep into your own eyes, and asking ‘what is my purpose’ and ‘am I doing what I need to do to achieve my purpose’ if not ‘what do I need to change?’.  I don’t mean the trivial every day stuff or annoyances, I mean really ask the questions on a fundamental deep level.  I promise it refocuses your thought processes and re-energises your actions. It may take some time to discover your true purpose, but then good things come to those who strive and are patient. When you do find your purpose, it is as if doors open; you feel motivated, strong and energised with a sense of direction.

 

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