Everybody wants to live a purposeful life. It's part of our human ways, as we don't like the feeling of standing still. We need to constantly move forward to some goal or purpose. If we don't, we are less happy. But it's easier said than done, though.
What is a purposeful life? A purposeful life is when you are moving towards a big goal in your life that aligns with your values and passions, and makes you happy. This is harder than it sounds because finding your purpose in life is not always easy.
This article covers what you can do right now in order to find your purpose, and start living your life purposefully. I've included actual examples of how other people have found their purpose and live purposeful lives.
What is a life purpose?
Having a purpose in life is one of the pillars of happiness.
That doesn't mean you can't be happy without a purpose, but it will be harder to find long-term happiness without one. What are some examples of a purpose in life? There are a lot of commonly known purposes in life, like:
- Providing for your family.
- Living a successful life.
- Making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you.
- Traveling the world.
- Fighting the declining condition of our planet and making it a better place.
Here's a great example of a life purpose, which one of my friends online shared with me in this article:
As a recovering perfectionist, anxiety warrior, and depression fighter, my purpose in life is to empower myself to empower others. I define my purpose in life as a continual journey of becoming the best possible version of myself. By doing this, I can help other people become the best possible version of themselves.
How to define your own purpose in life
You can't copy & paste somebody else's purpose in life and expect to be happy by doing the same things. If you want to live a purposeful life, you're going to have to find and define your own purpose in life.
Just as much as happiness is something that's unique for every single person, the purpose of life differs from person to person as well!
Elon Musk's purpose in life might be to develop futuristic ideas into reality, while your purpose can be to just provide the best life to your family and children.
Copy & pasting the purpose of somebody that you respect and like will probably leave you unhappy and unfulfilled. For example, I think Elon Musk is doing spectacular things, but I wouldn't be happy if I were in his shoes. My purpose in life is wildly different from his!
I have defined my own purpose in life, and I advise you to do the same!
How do you find your purpose in life?
So how do you discover your purpose?
Here's how not to find it: By sitting in a chair and waiting around all day before this purpose finds you. You are not going to find your purpose by trying the same things over and over again.
Instead, you find it by doing (new) things and taking action.
It's also important to know that your purpose in life and your job are not the same things. Too many people look for a job that is simultaneously something that can fill their purpose in life. A very small percentage of people find actual purpose in the work they do.
Long story short: you have to discover your purpose in life by trying out new things. If you feel like you haven't yet found your purpose in life, that means you need to try something new that sparks your interest again.
Another example of someone who lives a purposeful life
Another person I've met was kind enough to tell me how she lives a purposeful life. I think this is a great example of you sometimes really "discover" your purpose:
I got cancer age 30 and am currently grappling with this question. My focus has completely shifted and I feel like my the whole point of life now is just 2 simple things:
- Making positive connections with others and enjoying those around you. It is a lot easier to sit on the couch and watch a feel-good show then it is to go have dinner with your in-laws when you are tired - but what is the point in sitting there watching TV? We all waste way too much time doing crap like that. Better to build meaningful connections while you can. There are millions of super isolated people in the world as well who would kill to have someone to have dinner with.
- Squeezing every bit of enjoyment out of life. I need to walk home - I can either take the subway for 5 minutes underground or I can walk 30 minutes through a park and tree-lined streets and truly enjoy it. maybe get an ice cream on the way. I'd pick the fast way every time before, now I'm constantly looking for the most enjoyable route instead.
Purposeful living creates long-term happiness
There are different kinds of happiness. Not just in the way we define happiness, but also in the way we experience it. It's important to realize how these differences can influence our daily decisions and also if we live our lives with or without a purpose.
Short-term happiness is relatively easy to explain. It's based on small and easy to obtain sources of happiness. Think about:
- Watching a great movie.
- Scoring a goal.
- Laughing about a silly video on YouTube.
Short-term happiness is based on the release of the chemical dopamine in our brain. This organic chemical is released whenever we are stimulated by things that please us. These things result in short-term happiness because dopamine is released based on a single event. When this event is over, the pleasure is gone. That's why I consider this to be short-term happiness.
And then there is long-term happiness.
Long-term happiness is a little bit harder to explain because it revolves around other concepts of happiness. Long-term happiness is created by feeling happy about your purpose in life, the successes that you've had, and/or the satisfaction of who you are and what you've accomplished. Long-term happiness is based on concepts that are not created by a single event.
For example, I'm happy at the moment because I'm grateful for the life that I have right now. This happiness is not caused by something I'm doing at this very moment. Instead, I'm happy because I have been able to work hard on things that give me a sense of purpose and have achieved things that I am very proud of.
As a result, I have created a situation in which I am happy by default, without having to rely on single events. This is partially caused because I am living my life purposefully.
A purposeful life is a happy life
When you live your life with a purpose, you are much more in control of your long-term happiness. You won't have the feeling like you're just drifting, working towards some vague goal that doesn't make you happy.
When you have a purpose, your long-term happiness, satisfaction, and sense of achievement are much better definable. With a purpose, you are able to steer your life in the best direction possible. And that's the direction where long-term happiness can be found!
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Living a purposeful life is an important and fundamental factor of happiness. Without a purpose, we live our lives less efficiently and it's more difficult to find long-term happiness. You have to find your own purpose in life if you want to live it purposefully. Once you have, you are able to steer your life in the best direction possible.
I'd love to hear from you now. What's your purpose in life? How do you live a purposeful life? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below, as I'd love to meet you!