We all want the sense that we have fulfilled our purpose in life.
Therapy clients in particular,
after they have conquered most of their demons,
feel a strong desire to find new purpose.
With their unhealthy goals now eliminated, they wonder:
“How will I spend the rest of my life?”
How much purpose do we have?
How much do we need?
What is a healthy purpose?
How do we know if we are fulfilling our purpose?
PURPOSES WE ALREADY HAVE
These are biologically preordained and achieved in this order:
|To stay alive.||Be safe and take care of your body.|
|To belong.||Love and be loved.|
|To feel joy.||Get enough of what you want to feel satisfied.|
|To regenerate.||Contribute so the world is better when you leave it.|
“Biologically preordained” means you will always strive for these goals
– even if you consciously try to ignore them.
If you put off working on these tasks
in some misguided belief that other things are more important
your body will let you know.
You will be unhealthy, or lonely, or sad and angry, or you will feel empty.
HOW MUCH PURPOSE?
These biological purposes are entirely enough.
Every ounce of energy you put into achieving them is rewarded with pleasurable sensation.
These sensations tell you that you are in sync with your natural role in the universe.
It’s as if you are saying:
“The people I love, especially including myself, matter.”
If you think you must put off any of these natural purposes
to achieve something more important,
you are quite wrong.
Achieve these purposes first.
Any additional purpose you assign yourself must somehow relate to those already listed.
You can’t always improve your physical health,
but you can always give and receive more love,
get more of the things you want,
and contribute more to the well-being of others.
So, if you set a goal of becoming rich or powerful or wise or adored
you won’t be satisfied as you work toward your goal
unless you use your achievements to give yourself and those you love
more health, more love, greater satisfaction, and a more complete sense of belonging.
Compare Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Franklin Roosevelt
with Napoleon, Adolph Hitler, and Richard Nixon.
Each leader had huge dreams that were only partially fulfilled in their lifetime.
Those in first group may have died with a sense of achieved purpose.
For those in the second group, this was impossible all along.
ARE WE ACHIEVING OUR PURPOSE?
We can tell if we are achieving our purpose
by noticing how we usually feel when we are relaxed and resting.
The degree to which we usually feel good at these times
tells us the degree to which we are achieving our purpose.
DO WE NEED MORE?
A lot of the people I know and respect seem to think we do.
Maybe they are right.
But I think we only need to be true to our biology
to know we are fulfilling our purpose.
Fulfilling our role as a human being is difficult enough.
THE BIG PICTURE
When you were born you were given one huge task:
to take good care of yourself.
Once you achieve that,
your nature will lead you toward love and inclusiveness.
What further purpose could there be?
What greater purpose is there?