“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy.” ~ Dalai Lama
Getting clarity on our real purpose in life is one of our greatest challenges. Most of us, if not all of us, have no clue about what we should do.
This isn’t just a struggle that teenagers and adults go through. I know people in their sixties who’ve lived quite beautiful lives, but have never fulfilled their true purpose on Earth; they’re happy but not satisfied.
The truth is, we go to school, we go to college, we find a decent job and we make money. Most of us were raised—actually programmed—to think that making money and getting diplomas are our purposes in life. Beyond these, many believe that getting married and making a family are also important purposes to fulfill.
But those aren’t the purposes I’m highlighting now. I want to shed light on goals that are far from making a career or raising two beautiful children.
The purposes I’m referring to are the ones that make us truly happy. They’re the purposes that unleash a hidden passion that’s been sleeping inside our being for years. They’re simple yet big, hard but promising.
After many years of pursuing endless jobs and trying different experiences, it only took one trip to Nepal for me to discover that my passion in life is travel and backpacking. This hidden passion gave birth to a life purpose that I’m sure I want to fulfill.
1. Step away from the norm and keep your thoughts to yourself.
If we’re drinking from a cup full of muddy water, we won’t be able to see the mud unless we stop drinking. Otherwise, we’ll just keep on drinking and assume the water is clean.
In order to find our purpose in life, we need to step away from what’s typical, both mentally and physically. We can’t stay at an 8-5 job, subconsciously watch everyone else doing it, and yet dream of going to Niagara Falls.
Taking a step back allows us to see the bigger picture—something we can’t see as long as we’re inside of it. But once we do, thoughts and dreams will start flowing.
Having said that, we should keep our thoughts to ourselves. Discussing them with others will only cause us to re-evaluate our plans. Not everyone will agree with us or understand what we’re doing. Hence, we’ll end up with plenty of unnecessary opinions we’re better off without.
2. Look into your past.
To get an idea of what you want to do, pay a visit to your past.
Our past is a clear reference of what we were good at, what we sucked at, what we loved to do and what made us truly miserable.
First we need to eliminate experiences that didn’t bring us satisfaction, joy and inner peace from our list. However, we should consider the goals that never quit our minds or the experiences that casted a magic spell on us.
3. Accept your failures.
We’ve all failed at some point in our lives and it saddens me to see people let this hold them back.
To fail means we’re good at something we haven’t discovered yet. Failing should take us a step forward, not backward.
Once we figure out our true purpose, we’ll excel in it. We’ll succeed to a point that all our past failures will make sense to us.
4. Forget about the future.
We’ve all heard the question “Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?”. We see it on magazine headlines and we hear it from friends. We ask it on first dates and take tests online to help us find the answer.
The thing is, we miss the present when we focus on the future too much. We’re constantly worried where we’ll end up in a year or two, completely disregarding where we are now.
Let’s make plans for now, for today, for this moment. If we change opinions and beliefs by the second, how are we supposed to know who we’ll be or where we’ll be in five years? We just can’t.
5. Don’t push yourself.
To figure out our real purpose, we need to be patient. Some people don’t know what they want until they hit seventy.
Age is just a number and we shouldn’t be discouraged by it. As a matter of fact, growing older is a blessing, for it allows us to grow wiser and more stable. Thus, we figure out our purpose in life calmer.
When we push ourselves, we’re basically pushing ourselves one step behind. Let’s chill, keep on experiencing and when we least expect it, our purpose will reveal itself.
6. Step away from purposes that feed your ego.
Before figuring out that I wanted to backpack, I went through so many jobs and experiences. Every time I thought: “This is what I want to do! This is my purpose!”
Looking back, I laugh at myself. It wasn’t what I wanted to do; it was my ego’s desire. Every experience I went through was either for the love of attention or for the sake of money.
We realize our purpose is real when we’re finally doing something for ourselves—not for other people or social status. And at that point, we won’t care who knows or who agrees. Our ego will be out of it and we’ll finally do something that makes us happy, not others.
7. Know that your true purpose will benefit others as well.
I recall reading a quote from Mother Teresa around ten years ago. It said something like: “My purpose in life is to love and to help other people.” Frankly, I spent years thinking about that quote and wondering how someone could have such a purpose.
Back then, all that mattered to me was attention and money. Hence, I could never understand what Mother Teresa said.
Ten years later, I can finally say that I do understand and absolutely agree. Our highest purpose in life is to love and to help others, even if in small ways.
We might inspire others with our purpose. We might open doors for them that were closed before. With our purpose, we might awaken theirs.
Whatever our purpose is, we’ll know it’s real when it contains love and help toward others at its core.
8. Follow your intuition.
Intuition is not a thought, nor an emotion. It’s an energy that moves in the center of our being, whispering to us what’s right and what’s wrong.
We should listen to our intuition, for it has the deepest answers to our utmost complicated questions. We shouldn’t disregard it or turn a deaf ear to it.
Listen to it, meditate on it and you’ll know your real purpose in life.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Evan Yerburgh