Why study 15 years of our lives, work 80,000 hours, and then reproduce so the next generation can do it all over again if we don’t even know why we’re doing it? There’s got to be a greater purpose, right?
— Maria Stenvinkel, FinerMinds (17)
Post Contents: Click a link here to jump to a section below
- Life Purpose in a Nutshell (My Quick Thoughts)
- 5 Best Life Purpose Articles
- 5 Life Purpose Meanings & Descriptions
- 3 Life Purpose Research Studies
- 45 Life Purpose Perspectives
- 15 Best Life Purpose Quotes
- 10 Unique Questions to Discover Life Purpose
- 15 Ways to Find & Create Life Purpose
- 5 Top Life Purpose Books
I Googled “life purpose” and read through all the links on ten pages of search results.
To make it even more fun, I also searched similar phrases like “how to life purpose” and “find life purpose” which added a few more.
How many links did I click and read exactly?
(Yes, I even read the paid search results—when you see “Ad” next to a Google link)
This may sound like a lot, but it’s just a drop in the ocean of the total perspectives on life purpose. After all, Google currently shows over 3 billion search results for “life purpose” today.
Why did I do it?
- I’ve been studying life purpose for the last four years since my existential crisis and was curious what kind of content Google serves up these days to people who may be starting their own life purpose journey.
- I figured I’d uncover at least a few new perspectives, quotes, or methods about life purpose that I haven’t seen before.
- But most importantly:
Knowing there’s a lot of regurgitated content out there about life purpose, I wanted to create a go-to cheat sheet of life purpose highlights for anyone getting started. You get all the benefit without any of the fluff (and in a fraction of the time).
Initial Takeaways from this Exercise:
- The variety of perspectives on life purpose is diverse: researchers, spiritual leaders, psychologists, philosophers, bestselling authors, life coaches, bloggers, and more.
- Most people only click on the first few links in search results. Your perspective on life purpose (and really any topic) is going to be much narrower/shallower if you don’t dig deeper.
- Search engines like Google use algorithms with a multitude of factors to sort results in an order they believe is best. This doesn’t mean it’s the best for you. And, “best” is subjective. This just reiterates point #2 to go deeper on anything that’s truly important to you so you get a wider view of the world.
- Each bullet in this post has a number in parentheses after it. This corresponds to a source link in the footnotes at the bottom of the post if you want to explore something in more detail.
- All quotes are shown from the original source unless otherwise stated. However, I have added my own emphasis to some quotes in bold text.
- From my perspective, having studied my fair share of life purpose, there are many amazing concepts, books, and people completely missing from the first ten pages of results. I’ve added some links to additional content that I believe is relevant and well worth your time (shown after source material with “Note:”).
Life Purpose in a Nutshell (My Quick Thoughts)
Before we dive into what the first ten pages of Google say, I thought it may be helpful to share some key pieces of the life purpose puzzle that I’ve learned over the last few years. This is by no means definitive or inclusive of all my thoughts, but it’s a good place to kickstart your search:
Since there is no single answer to the meaning of life, make up your own answer and embrace the mystery of life.
- If there was a single answer, we would not be free because we would all have to live to that answer. You are connected to everything, but you are also playing your own single player game. (inspired by Naval Ravikant)
- At the highest levels of development of humanness, knowledge is positively correlated with a sense of mystery. (inspired by Maslow)
Perhaps purpose comes down to just being alive and evolving into full aliveness. In our case as humans, full humanness.
- The nature of reality is toward life; becoming more and more alive. I am life, therefore, I am here to make the world more alive. (inspired by Charles Eisenstein)
- Maslow’s hierarchy of needs doesn’t end with self-actualization; aim for transcendence to reach full humanness. (inspired by Maslow)
Instead of viewing it as you living life, allow life to live you; all will be natural and naturally you.
- Don’t live life, let life live you. You will be truly yourself and perfectly fulfilled. This leaves nothing to fear, not even death. (inspired by Tao Te Ching)
Invest the time to get to know yourself and your self. Nothing you do matters if it isn’t aligned with being; allow being to naturally flow out of you and guide your doing (personally, I currently view this as fate and free will working together).
- Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world. (inspired by Sri Ramana Maharshi)
You have a primary (inner) purpose that you share with all humanity and a secondary (outer) purpose that is unique to you. Purpose is a combination of finding and creating: you don’t choose your life purpose (finding), but you do choose what you do with it (creating).
- You have an inner purpose (being) and outer purpose (doing). There is no real doing without first being. (inspired by Eckhart Tolle)
You are always on your own hero’s journey (even when one ends, another begins). Start with yourself before trying to change the world. And, actually, these paths will converge because what’s best for you is best for the world. Purpose exists at all levels and all are connected: the universe’s purpose is connected to humanity’s purpose is connected to the individual human’s purpose.
- When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. (inspired by The Alchemist)
Don’t forget you are a guest on this planet. You are only alive for 1% of recorded human history.
- The play of life goes on after you, but you may contribute a verse while you’re here. (inspired by Walt Whitman)
99% of all the life purpose writing out there tells you why life purpose is important or what they think it is; almost none of it gives you an actionable idea of how to find or create life purpose. Of all the books, methods, and approaches I’ve studied, my #1 recommendation for how to find and create life purpose is Ikigai 2.0. This is ultimately what worked for me.
5 Best Life Purpose Articles in the First 10 Pages of Search Results
If you want to cut 100+ links down to 5, start here.
Although it’s subjective, I believe these articles offer the highest quality of content while also providing a nice breadth of perspective on purpose if you read them all. They aren’t listed in any order here, so start with whichever one piques your interest.
- How to Find Your Purpose in Life (Greater Good Magazine, Berkeley.edu)
- Here’s Why You Keep On Resisting Your Life Purpose (Medium.com)
- How to Find Your Life Purpose: An Unconventional Approach (Zen Habits)
- 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose (Mark Manson)
- Finding Your Life Purpose: 10 Deep Questions to Help You Create a Wildly Fulfilling and Meaningful Life (Conscious Lifestyle Magazine)
Note: Here are the top life purpose articles on Sloww.
5 Life Purpose Meanings & Descriptions
Believe it or not, it was not simple and straightforward to find definitions of life purpose. Maybe that’s why there are billions of results all offering their own ideas.
For what it’s worth, I feel like the following points give a good introduction:
- “A sense of purpose appears to have evolved in humans so that we can accomplish big things together—which may be why it’s associated with better physical and mental health. Purpose is adaptive, in an evolutionary sense. It helps both individuals and the species to survive.” — Jeremy Adam Smith, Greater Good Magazine (5)
- “The French call it, Raison d’être, ‘reason for being’. The Japanese call it Ikigai, ‘reason for living; meaning for life; what makes life worth living’. Dharma ‘right way of living’ and ‘path of rightness’ is the conventional explanation of life purpose in Hindu culture and yoga philosophy. Dharma means ‘to support, hold, or bear.’ Dharma is the regulator of change and the principle which remains constant while change occurs; but dharma itself does not change. In Daoist philosophy, life purpose is The Way which sets Nature and the Cosmos into order out of chaos. The Way creates stability and order in the turmoil of the change.” — Jayne Stevenson, Medium (7)
- “Life purpose in these terms is the foundation of your life. It’s the cohesion of your existence, your essence, and your spine — that which animates and holds you upright in the world.” — Jayne Stevenson, Medium (7)
- “Your life purpose is one, unifying theme or idea that exemplifies your key goals in life, a theme that has been evident almost from the beginning of your life. It’s the specific way in which you engage with life that makes use of all that you are and draws on your unique experiences, talents, abilities, and interests in a way that helps you achieve your highest goals while being of service of others.” — Kathy Caprino, Forbes (12)
- “Every life has at its core a dream that quietly and unobtrusively asks to be fulfilled. Each of us dreams such a dream. It is an important part of the original blessing of being in this world. Purpose is another word for this dream.” — Frank Pasciuti, Ph.D, Inner Self (28)
3 Life Purpose Research Studies
Regardless of which way you go about finding life purpose, the positive affects of having purpose (and negative impacts of lacking purpose) are starting to become clear.
- “People who didn’t have a strong life purpose — which was defined as ‘a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals’ — were more likely to die than those who did, and specifically more likely to die of cardiovascular diseases…People without a strong life purpose were more than twice as likely to die between the study years of 2006 and 2010, compared with those who had one. This association between a low level of purpose in life and death remained true despite how rich or poor participants were, and regardless of gender, race, or education level. The researchers also found the association to be so powerful that having a life purpose appeared to be more important for decreasing risk of death than drinking, smoking or exercising regularly...’The need for meaning and purpose is No. 1…It’s the deepest driver of well-being there is.’” — Mara Gordon, NPR (16) — Study source here
- “Dr. Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, estimated that an ability to define your life meaning adds to your life expectancy. Dr. Butler and collaborators led an NIH-funded study in 2014 that looked at the correlation between having a sense of purpose and longevity. His study found that individuals who expressed a clear goal in life—something to get up for in the morning, something that made a difference—lived longer and were sharper than those who did not.” — Blue Zones (21) (Note: I’ve covered the Blue Zones, where humans live the longest lives on Earth, twice before: a Blue Zones overview and specific look at the Ikarians in Greece)
- “Ever wonder how some people seem to meet their fitness goals with ease and love eating healthy foods while others constantly struggle to do either? According to a new study from the Communication Neuroscience Lab at the Annenberg School, people with stronger life purpose are more likely to accept messages promoting health behavior change than those with a weaker sense of purpose. And this might be because they experience less decisional conflict while considering health advice.” — Science Daily (31) — Study source here
45 Life Purpose Perspectives
Here’s where we will really dive into the highlights from the first ten pages of search results. Enjoy!
What purpose is not:
- “The danger of being unconscious of your life purpose is that you may confuse it with your worldly goals, such as career, making money, and being successful.” — Jayne Stevenson, Medium (7)
Is purpose anything more than being alive and a decent human being?
- “Consider that the real purpose of anyone’s life is to be fully involved in living.” — Shannon Kaiser, HuffPost (6)
- “I actually believe that one of the most profound expressions of life purpose is simply to just dial it back to zero and say that each of our lives’ purpose is to be a decent human being.” — Katie Hess, LOTUSWEI (30)
Are you born with life purpose or do you choose it? Personally I believe it’s both, which is why I usually say “find and create life purpose.” Finding it is the part you don’t choose, but you do choose what you will create with it.
- “After working with more than a million people all over the world, I have come to believe that each of us is born with a unique life purpose.” — Jack Canfield (4)
- “You don’t get to choose your life purpose. It is the result of the unfathomably complex interplay between genes, experiences, upbringing, and environment. But you do get to choose what you do with it.” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
Only a small minority of people have actually figured out their life purpose, so don’t feel too bad if you haven’t figured it out yet!
- “Only around 25 percent of American adults cite having a clear sense of purpose about what makes their lives meaningful.” — Amy Morin, Verywell Mind (11) (Note: Jim Collins, creator of the purpose methods the Hedgehog Concept and Flywheel Effect, estimates it’s more like only 3-5 percent of the planet who have figured out their purpose)
- “The majority of people never become aware of their life purpose because they are too busy trying to become products of their ego.” — Jayne Stevenson, Medium (7)
Your life purpose and the meaning of life are interconnected:
- “Viktor Frankl, an Austrian existential psychologist, created a school of thought called logotherapy. Unlike Freud, who said our main motives are sex and aggression, Frankl surmised that our dominant driving force is to find meaning in life.” — Jacob Sokol, Tiny Buddha (25) (Note: Viktor Frankl is the author of the well-known and life-changing book Man’s Search for Meaning)
- “‘Meaning’ and ‘purpose’ are related but separate social-scientific constructs. Purpose is a part of meaning; meaning is a much broader concept that usually also includes value, efficacy, and self-worth.” — Jeremy Adam Smith, Greater Good Magazine (5)
- “Living your life purpose and understanding the meaning of life is intertwined. They are one and the same on a spiritual level and the key to true spiritual wellness.” — Val Silver, Holistic MindBody Healing (33)
- “Self-realization is the path to god-realization; as you discover who you are, you understand your connection to God. This is the general purpose that we all share…In addition to this general purpose that we all share, each of us has our own unique life purpose. It is this individual life purpose that guides you to your potential, and is a direct path to self-realization and god-realization.” — Amarjit Singh, Do You Yoga (34)
- “According to Eckhart Tolle, a spiritual teacher and best-selling author, the question of finding your life’s purpose is best approached by realising that there is a primary and a secondary purpose. And they differ remarkably in their nature.” — The World Counts (26) (Note: Eckhart Tolle is the author of a top-selling life purpose book titled A New Earth)
Purpose isn’t selfish if you’re using it to serve the world. Allow your gifts to give back:
- “The purpose of life is to give it away in the service of others.” — Joshua Becker, author of Simplify & creator of Simplify Magazine (17)
- “Some people feel hesitant about pursuing their life purpose because they worry that it sounds like a self-serving or selfish quest. However, true purpose is about recognizing your own gifts and using them to contribute to the world.” — Taking Charge, Univ of Minnesota (10)
- “Be of service because it comes gushing out of you, because it is inevitable. Do it because it is who you truly are. Do it because, if you aren’t of service, you can’t be your truth. Then it will be serving you as much as others, even if it is not done with that intent. This resonates with the African philosophy of Ubuntu, which means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.’ — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
Purpose and passion are different, but passion is a critical element of purpose:
- “When we live a passion-filled life we are living on purpose, and that is the purpose of life.” — Shannon Kaiser, HuffPost (6)
- “What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.” — Mark Manson (3)
- “Think of uncovering your passion like the work of a master sculptor, slowly chipping away the stone to reveal the masterpiece underneath. Your life’s purpose is this masterpiece, simply lurking beneath the surface waiting to be released.” — Kevin Wood, Life Hack (14)
It’s less about what you do, and more about how you do it:
- “It is not any particular job; it is not what you do, but how you do it that is important.” — Amarjit Singh, Do You Yoga (34)
- “You ARE your life purpose. It’s not a particular action or career – it’s in how you live.” — Kathy Caprino, Forbes (12)
- “So What Is Your Life Purpose? It’s the same as everyone else’s: to live your life as fully as you can. To be true to who you are and express your authentic gift. The difference between your purpose and everyone else’s is ‘how’ you express that meaning in your life.” — Motivation Ping (19)
Life purpose is more of a feeling that can’t be put into words:
- “When purpose does arrive for someone, it is nearly always reported not as a rational, logical experience, but more as an intuitive, emotional, magical, mystical one.” — Leo Widrich (24)
- “Don’t worry if you can’t define your life purpose in words. Having the exact words to describe your purpose is not nearly as important as feeling it burn like a flame within.” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
Look inside, in the stillness of your heart:
- “The fastest way about how to find purpose in life is through the art of introspection: diving into the deeper essences of who you are to pull out the pieces to assemble the purpose puzzle.” — Kevin Wood, Life Hack (14)
- “The secret is to become still enough to hear the whisper of wisdom inside you.” — Henri, Wake Up Cloud (36)
- “The key is to identify the source of your deepest desires, so here it is. The key is to access the truth that emerges when you open your heart.” — Phillip and Jane Mountrose, Getting Thru (1)
- “Your heart is your best tool to access your true purpose and passion. Ask yourself what you love?” — Shannon Kaiser, HuffPost (6)
- “Purpose is a conversation between your heart and the heartaches of the world.” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
Meaning can grow out of suffering:
- “Finding purpose is not just an intellectual pursuit; it’s something we need to feel. That’s why it can grow out of suffering, both our own and others’.” — Jeremy Adam Smith, Greater Good Magazine (5)
- “To turn my ‘mess into a message’ and help others bypass my painful mistakes.” — Kathy Caprino, Forbes (12)
- “Without a chosen, ‘higher’ purpose, life gives us a sort of default purpose: avoid suffering as much as possible.” — Good Therapy (18)
Embark on your hero’s journey:
- “We are all on a Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey like this. Every problem we face is a call to adventure.” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
- “If you have the courage to set off on one Hero’s/Heroine’s Journey after another, you will bring to life more of your purpose. From a haze of past experiences a powerful narrative will emerge. We thrive in the world to the extent that we can metabolize the things that happen to us into fresh threads for our emerging story.” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
Reaching your full potential:
- “The purpose of life is self-actualization – shaping the world in our vision through reaching our full potential.” — Will Mitchell (17) (Note: Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is well-known for self-actualization, but did you know that Maslow created a higher top of the pyramid called transcendence?)
- “I believe it is to become our greatest version.” — Ralph Smart (17)
- “There is no greater life purpose or contribution to this world than refining oneself bit by bit, day by day, over time creating more postivity within our systems. And that has a tremendous ripple effect, because we are all interconnected.” — Katie Hess, LOTUSWEI (30)
Finding purpose comes from taking action:
- “You can’t think your way into finding your life purpose; you have to do your way into it.” — Shannon Kaiser, HuffPost (6)
- “Discovering your purpose is the easy part. The hard part is keeping it with you on a daily basis and working on yourself to the point where you become that purpose.” — Steve Pavlina (20)
- “Purpose, love-in-action, is the energy that animates it.” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
It boils down to how you will spend your time:
- “Here’s the truth. We exist on this earth for some undetermined period of time. During that time we do things. Some of these things are important. Some of them are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. The unimportant ones basically just kill time.” — Mark Manson (3)
- “Discovering one’s ‘purpose’ in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. It’s not about some great achievement, but merely finding a way to spend your limited amount of time well. And to do that you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself.” — Mark Manson (3)
Purpose is like an inner GPS or gas in a car:
- “It’s called your inner GPS. Your inner GPS is similar to the GPS system you use in your car or on your phone. It tells you how to get from point A to point B.” — Jack Canfield (4)
- “I sometimes think of Purpose as gas in a car. It’s the fuel that keeps me going no matter where I’m headed or how long the journey might be. Without it, I’d be standing still on the side of the road because when I know why I do what I do, I can stay focused, energized, and powerful.” — Joi Foley, Rockwood Leadership Institute (2)
Your life purpose can change throughout your life:
- “Your life purpose is constantly changing. As you learn more about yourself and the world around you, you naturally beginning feeling, reacting, thinking, and acting differently. And you gain feedback about what really matters to you and what being human is all about.” — Kyle Seagraves, Uncover Your Purpose (22)
- “One thing to note is that life purpose isn’t static and it isn’t necessarily just one thing. As evolving humans, we’re on a beautiful journey to wholeness and each step we take on the journey to wholeness provides a new piece of the picture of who we are and why we are here.” — Phillip and Jane Mountrose, Getting Thru (1)
- “And do not forget to review your life purpose periodically. Nothing is permanent, everything changes.” — Francisco Sáez, FacileThings(27)
15 Best Life Purpose Quotes
Keep in mind, this is just a collection of the best life purpose quotes from well-known people and books that I came across in the first ten pages of search results. You can see my personal collection of favorite life purpose quotes here.
Learning how to live:
- “I’d always believed that a life of quality, enjoyment, and wisdom were my human birthright and would be automatically bestowed upon me as time passed. I never suspected that I would have to learn how to live – that there were specific disciplines and ways of seeing the world I had to master before I could awaken to a simple, happy, uncomplicated life.” — Dan Millman
Follow your purpose, not the purpose of someone else:
- “It is better to do thine own duty, however lacking in merit, than to do that of another, even though efficiently. It is better to die doing one’s own duty, for to do the duty of another is fraught with danger.” — Bhagavad Gita
Fate? Free will? How about a combination of both working together?
- “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I need to listen to my life to tell me who I am.” — Parker J. Palmer
- “Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” — Jean-Paul Sartre
Using pain productively:
- “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anaïs Nin
Creating meaning in your life:
- “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” — Joseph Campbell
- “The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- “The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” — David Viscott
- “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” — George Bernard Shaw
It’s about finding the path, not reaching the destination:
- “For a master, the rewards gained along the way are fine, but they are not the main reason for the journey. Ultimately, the master and the master’s path are one. And if the traveler is fortunate — that is, if the path is complex and profound enough — the destination is two miles farther away for every mile he or she travels.” — George Leonard
In service to humanity:
- “The ignorant work for their own profit while the wise work for the welfare of the world, without thought for themselves.” — Bhagavad Gita
- “Each one of us has an essential role in the whole of humanity. All you have to do is follow your path to answer the call.” — Oprah Winfrey, author of The Path Made Clear
Purpose is finding capital “H” Happiness:
- “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” — Helen Keller
- “Many people may doubt that finding God is the purpose of life; but everyone can accept the idea that the purpose of life is to find happiness. I say that God is Happiness. He is Bliss. He is Love. He is Joy that will never go away from your soul. So why shouldn’t you try to acquire that Happiness? No one else can give it to you. You must continuously cultivate it yourself.” — Paramahansa Yogananda
Is it making a difference that you lived?
- “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
10 Unique Questions to Discover Life Purpose
You’ve likely seen the same list of questions repeated over and over again (like “What do you love? What are you passionate about? What did you want to be as a child? etc). This section highlights the questions that stood out to me as truly unique.
Your life is an indefinite amount of time:
- “So when people say, ‘What should I do with my life?’ or ‘What is my life purpose?’ what they’re actually asking is: ‘What can I do with my time that is important?’” — Mark Manson (3)
Pinpointing your biggest interests:
- “What subject could I read 500 books about without getting bored?” — Rebecca Burn-Callander, The Telegraph (35)
Using pain as fuel for purpose:
- “What pain or injustice or unhappiness have you witnessed that you just can’t live with? Is there anything that touches you so deeply that it drives you? Often, a powerful purpose can come from powerful pain.” — Tchiki Davis, PhD, Psychology Today (8)
- “Purpose often arises from curiosity about your own life. What obstacles have you encountered?” — Jeremy Adam Smith, Greater Good Magazine (5)
Living for yourself vs someone else:
- “Are you living out your life as a cameo role in the story of your parents?” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
Where your mind wanders & wonders:
- “What kind of ‘shower ideas’ do you get?” — Joi Foley, Rockwood Leadership Institute (2)
If it all comes down to love:
- “If I have been put on this planet by aliens to use all my insights, experiences, and gifts to bring more love to the world, what would I do each day?” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
When you are deep in flow states:
- “What makes you forget to eat and poop?” — Mark Manson (3)
When you remove money from the equation:
- “What could I do for five years straight without getting paid?” — Rebecca Burn-Callander, The Telegraph (35)
A spiritual approach:
- “What is trying to emerge in me? Am I letting it? If not, what am I afraid of? How can I nurture that emergence?” — Val Silver, Holistic MindBody Healing (33)
15 Ways to Find & Create Life Purpose
Many methods for discovering life purpose mention finding the intersection of multiple points:
- “Your purpose rests in the intersection between what you love to do and what other people need. It’s a way of being powerfully in service while living your life with joy.” — Lyn Christian, Soul Salt (37)
- “Find the intersection between your strengths, passions, and causes.” — Donald Latumahina, Life Optimizer (23)
- “The Japanese word ikigai translates roughly to ‘to live the realization that one hopes for’ or ‘that which makes life worth living.’ It’s a concept that refers to the intersection of what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs from you, and what you can get paid for. In essence, it is what one’s purpose in life is.” — Matt Davis, Big Think (29) (Note: The mainstream version of ikigai is a myth. I attempted to redesign ikigai to better match reality. If you’re looking for a summary of the ikigai book, you can find that here.)
- “Purpose is the connection between the gifts of the Tiny Me (the part of us that has tangible skills and talents in the “real” world) and the ask of the Great We (what we as a community and planet are missing in some way).” — Nick Seneca Jankel, Conscious Lifestyle Mag (13)
In addition to intersections, life purpose formulas are a popular method:
- “Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life” — Shannon Kaiser, HuffPost (6)
- “The equation for purpose is G + P + V = P (gifts + passions + values = purpose)” Richard Leider — Taking Charge, Univ of Minnesota (10)
- “Your Values + Strengths + Passions + Service = Your Purpose” — Jacob Sokol, Tiny Buddha (25)
- “The formula for your life purpose can be simply restated as this: We are happiest when we are being our natural and authentic selves. When you are being your authentic self, no effort is required. Because of this, your strengths and talents appear naturally and effortlessly. Because you are happy and aware of your strengths and talents, you automatically find a way to use them in the service of others.” — Life Coach Spotter (15)
Sometimes it can be as simple as reading (outside & inside yourself):
- “Reading connects us to people we’ll never know, across time and space—an experience that research says is linked to a sense of meaning and purpose.” — Jeremy Adam Smith, Greater Good Magazine (5)
- “Read the themes and threads that stir your deepest heart (the place where your spirit and higher mind lives). If you can’t see the theme, work on your inner life, as this will enable your inner-vision.” — Jayne Stevenson, Medium (7)
Get outside your normal bubble to set/reset perspective:
- “The One Step to Finding Your Purpose. It’s simply this: learn to get outside your personal bubble.” — Leo Babauta, Zen Habits (9)
Start believing that you’re worthy of purpose and behave accordingly:
- “The key to uncovering your life purpose is to start behaving as if you’re worthy enough to have one.” — Kathy Caprino, Forbes (12)
Try The Passion Test:
- “Developed by Chris and Janet Attwood, The Passion Test is a simple, yet elegant, process. You start by filling in the blank 15 times for the following statement: ‘When my life is ideal, I am ___.‘ The word(s) you choose to fill in the blank must be a verb.” — Jack Canfield (4)
Try the 30-second approach:
- “You have 30 seconds to deliver a message to the world. Write down what you would say. Then speak it out loud. Tweak until it resonates with every fiber of your being. You will probably cry. That’s the one.” — Val Silver, Holistic MindBody Healing (33)
Try the 20-minute approach:
- “1. Take out a blank sheet of paper or open up a word processor where you can type (I prefer the latter because it’s faster).
2. Write at the top, ‘What is my true purpose in life?’
3. Write an answer (any answer) that pops into your head. It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. A short phrase is fine.
4. Repeat step 3 until you write the answer that makes you cry. This is your purpose.” — Steve Pavlina (20)
How about a half-day approach with a trusted partner? Create Your Life Purpose with the Why Discovery Process from “Find Your Why” by Simon Sinek (Book Summary)
Others recommend writing your own eulogy and then trying to live to it.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, of all the methods and approaches I’ve studied, my #1 recommendation for how to find and create life purpose is Ikigai 2.0 (what I personally developed and used myself).
5 Top Life Purpose Books
I’m genuinely shocked that more life purpose books weren’t mentioned in the first ten pages of search results.
Here’s a longer list of top life purpose books I’ve curated, but I’d recommend starting with these five:
- A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle | Summary 1, 2, 3 | Amazon
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl | Summary 1, 2 | Amazon
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho | Summary | Amazon
- The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren | Summary | Amazon
- The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna | Summary | Amazon
Final Note: Since I can’t seem to get enough of life purpose, I compared spirituality (Eckhart Tolle) and religion (Rick Warren). What I found was that spirituality and religion aren’t as different as they seem: Life Purpose Showdown: 55 Ways Eckhart Tolle (“A New Earth”) & Rick Warren (“Purpose Driven Life”) Say the Same Thing
Whew! That’s it. If you made it this far, thank you. I truly hope you found at least one thing that deeply resonated with you and will help you on your own journey. If you did, please let me know in the comments.