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“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Two of the catalysts to creating a life deep in contentment, connection, and fulfilment, I believe, are identity and purpose.
These fundamental explorations of who we are and what we’re here for cultivate a deep connection to our lives and our place in the world. I’ve spoken a lot about identity and our self-concept before, so today let’s look at purpose and our why.
I know, personally, that the loss of who I was and a disconnection to any meaning in life propelled me into hopelessness and poor mental health. I was depressed, disillusioned, and completely detached from any sense of self or purpose.
Through the process of learning about and recovering my true self, I started to establish what it is that I want from life. I began to connect to my passions and talents, my personal offering to this world, and how I want to engage with my own, exclusive experience of life.
The pursuit of purpose was a significant motivator in my own recovery and journey to real, lasting empowerment and freedom. I wanted to get better so that I could someday help others get better; I felt connected to and inspired by the potential of making a difference. I wanted my words, coaching, and sharing to become a powerful resource in assisting others to overcome their challenges and develop a love for both life and themselves.
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” ~ Viktor Frankl
Fixating on our problems and our past does not help us. Feeling disadvantaged and disempowered only serve to keep us captive to our circumstances. Regardless the experiences we have encountered, we always get to choose how we respond to them. Responding with a thirst for meaning transforms the tough times into learning curves, unique life experiences, opportunities for growth, the potential to become stronger, wiser, and more resilient.
Uncovering our “why” leads us to our profoundly powerful purpose, unique to each of us, awaiting our awareness.
I wholeheartedly believe that this path of discovery would be of much more benefit than digging into the past, constantly reminding ourselves of our struggles, or affixing a label/diagnosis upon our situation. I think we need to start looking outside of our immediate state, in a way, and see that we are part of something bigger, something more.
And that just maybe, there’s a reason for what we’re going through.
Here are two thoughts to consider when exploring your purpose:
1. What is it for you?
“…true fulfilment comes from designing your own life. To find your purpose, you must decide what’s truly right, and know it by your heart and soul, not by your fears or your head. A decision made from fear is always the wrong decision, always.” ~ Tony Robbins
For me, purpose is our reason for being. It is what we are driven and inspired by. It feels exciting to pursue and connects to our feelings of fulfilment. It’s not a mere goal or dream, but the driving force toward a life of meaning.
“It’s difficult, of course, to measure a concept like meaning in the lab, but, according to psychologists, when people say that their lives have meaning, it’s because three conditions have been satisfied: they evaluate their lives as significant and worthwhile—as part of something bigger; they believe their lives make sense; and they feel their lives are driven by a sense of purpose.” ~ Emily Esfahani Smith
I think that purpose can change and evolve in some ways too, as we explore it deeper and gain clarity. Our roles, experiences, and self-discovery can help guide us toward those tugs of meaning and motivation. The more I learn about myself, the more I’ve seen mine shift and deepen.
I know I want to inspire more authenticity, trusting ourselves to be ourselves without fear or shame. I want to look more into human behaviour and impact, norms and issues, and our influence on this world on a larger scale. I want to use my passions, my voice, and my experience to help people awaken to their true power.
But also, I feel that my purpose here is not even really about doing. It’s about being. I believe my purpose is to remember who I truly am, beyond just my physical and mental self, and be fully embodied as that.
So for me, finding purpose can be a continual path that can take various shapes and forms. The important thing is to realise the bigger “why” that drives us and that unshakeable force that compels us to act.
I’m sure at some stage, we’ve related to the idea that “we’re not just here to pay bills and die,” so what then do we believe we are actually here for?
What is it that we believe we’re meant to do?
Who is it we’re here to become or be?
What kind of legacy do we intend to leave? What kind of impact would we like to create?
What is it that you would love to do with your one “wild and precious life”?
2. Are you connecting to it?
Once we find out what our purpose is or could be, we need to act on it. In the same way that discovering our identity is futile if we refuse to be our authentic selves, knowing what our why is but rejecting our call to connect to it will leave us feeling extremely dissatisfied, lost, and demotivated. I know, personally, I can feel off when I’m disconnected from my purpose—I get agitated, frustrated, down, and even emotional sometimes. I can physically, mentally, and emotionally feel the disconnect.
Yes, life does get in the way sometimes; I definitely relate to becoming stationary on the path to purpose, but it’s like anything—once we become aware, we can get going again.
It’s important to identify what aligns us with our purpose and how we can prioritise and incorporate these activities in our day-to-day. Keeping purpose in mind will motivate and drive our decisions differently. Instead of being led by “should” and “have-tos,” remember the pull of purpose and lean into it. Listen to it. Do the things that truly fuel and fulfil your personal and powerful objective.
This is your invitation to explore this question and value the answers you receive.
“Existential frustration arises when our life is without purpose, or when that purpose is skewed. In Frankl’s view, however, there is no need to see this frustration as an anomaly or a symptom of neurosis; instead, it can be a positive thing – a catalyst for change.” ~ Héctor Garcia, Franesc Miralles – Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life