Have you asked yourself any of these ultimate questions: What is my purpose in life? How do I find my life purpose? Do I even have a life purpose?
Maybe you’re actively asking yourself these questions at this very moment. Join the club! I’ve been asking myself the same ones for the last five years on this journey.
In that article, I shared some high-level thoughts called “life purpose in a nutshell.” This post expands on that initial thinking, but keep in mind it simply represents my current point of view at the time of this writing and is always evolving.
There is a lot more life purpose content in the works for this year. If you’re interested in finding your purpose, be sure to subscribe to the free email newsletter to stay in the loop:
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What is Your Purpose in Life? 10 Deep Thoughts to Guide Your Hero’s Journey to Finding Life Purpose
1. No Single Answer
Ultimately, since there is no single answer to the meaning of life, you get to make up your own answer and embrace the mystery of life. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry—you get plenty of help from nature to point you in the right direction.
“There is no answer. The real answer is ‘because.’ You get to make up your own answer is the beauty. If there was a single answer, we would not be free. We would be trapped … we would all have to live to that answer … luckily there is no answer.” — Naval Ravikant
2. Full Aliveness
Perhaps nature’s purpose is simply being alive and evolving/emerging into more and more aliveness. Think about it: what living thing (plant, insect, animal, human) doesn’t strive for full aliveness? Plants even strive to grow through concrete.
“The value of the question, ‘Why am I here?’ doesn’t depend on it achieving an answer. But, it drives a life process … The reason for life is life. The reason for life is to make more life. The reason for life is to bring more life into all that is. To make the universe more and more and more alive. That life is unfolding into greater and greater livingness … The point is to be part of the increasing livingness of life … The nature of reality is toward life. To become more and more alive … Please allow the service to life, this concept of I am life, therefore, I, like all life, am here to make the whole world more alive. Try that on and let that color your perceptions for awhile and see how that idea works on you.” — Charles Eisenstein
3. Do You Live Life, or Does Life Live You?
Do You Live Life, or Does Life Live You?🔒 Allow life to live you, and all will be natural and naturally you. This could be viewed as fate and free will working together—loving your fate and actively choosing it. 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).
“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.” — Joseph Campbell
4. Interconnected Purpose
Perhaps purpose exists at all levels of life and all are interconnected—the universe’s purpose is connected to humanity’s purpose is connected to the individual human’s purpose is connected to the cell’s purpose and on and on. Not to get too deep too quickly, but if you’re interested in this topic check out: the fractal pattern of nature, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm (“as above, so below”), increasing complexity and integrative levels of organization, and emergent evolution.
“If you look within rather than only without, however, you discover that you have an inner and an outer purpose, and since you are a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosm, it follows that the universe too has an inner and outer purpose inseparable from yours. The outer purpose of the universe is to create form and experience the interaction of forms – the play, the dream, the drama, or whatever you choose to call it. Its inner purpose is to awaken to its formless essence.” — Eckhart Tolle
5. Inner & Outer Purpose
You have a primary, inner purpose (being) and secondary, outer purpose (doing). Your inner purpose is shared with all humanity (awakening and staying awake). Your outer purpose is unique to you and can evolve throughout your lifetime (what you do). The two combined create “awakened doing.”
“Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose – what you do – with your inner purpose – awakening and staying awake. Through awakened doing, you become one with the outgoing purpose of the universe. Consciousness flows through you into this world. It flows into your thoughts and inspires them. It flows into what you do and guides and empowers it.” — Eckhart Tolle
6. Follow Your Bliss
Call it “bliss,” “love,” “passion,” “calling,” or anything else you want. In my own personal experience and years of research on purpose, this is a key ingredient for life purpose.
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living … I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” — Joseph Campbell
7. Know Thyself
Invest the time to get to know thyself on the full continuum: essence-micro-macro levels. Essence is self-realization (formless being—consciousness that fundamentally connects us all). Micro is individual (knowing your selfhood—how you are different from everyone). Macro is collective (knowing your specieshood—how you are similar to everyone). Start with yourself (essence and then micro) before trying to change the world (macro). And, actually, these paths will naturally converge because what’s best for you is best for the world🔒
“Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” — Sri Ramana Maharshi
8. Self-Actualization & Transcendence
One of my biggest takeaways from Abraham Maslow’s writing on self-actualization is that self-actualizers are all engaged in a cause outside themselves (literally, Maslow says “in all cases” and “without one single exception”). And, did you know Maslow actually modified his hierarchy of needs to put transcendence above self-actualization? Transcendence doesn’t mean the previous stages disappear—it means they are transcended and included.
“If you are doing the work that you love and are devoted to the value that you hold highest, you are being as selfish as possible, and yet are also being unselfish and altruistic.” — Abraham Maslow
9. You are a Guest on Earth
Don’t forget you are a guest on Spaceship Earth. Literally. If you live the current average lifespan, that means you are only alive for 1 percent of recorded human history (and that’s just considering the ~5,000 years humans have been writing stuff down).
“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 … are unimportant. And those important things give our lives meaning and happiness.” — Mark Manson
10. The Hero’s Journey & Finding the Others
You are always on a hero’s journey of ups and downs🔒— even when one journey ends, another begins. The thing is, you don’t really know where you are at any given moment. You just have to keep going—reflecting, integrating, iterating, evolving, emerging.
“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” — Søren Kierkegaard
“Find the others” refers to a quote by Timothy Leary: “Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle … Find the others.” While parts of the hero’s journey may be a solo experience of knowing thyself, learning/unlearning, and finding/creating purpose, eventually this journey seems to converge with the collective (e.g. “find the others”).
“Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.” — Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
Bonus: 7 More Life Purpose Quotes
I had too many good quotes to choose from for the above thoughts! Here are some additional life purpose quotes that you may find inspirational on your journey.
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” — Alan Watts
“I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” — Joseph Campbell
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” — Aldous Huxley
“The others obey their own lead, follow their own impulses. Don’t be distracted. Keep walking. Follow your own nature, and follow Nature—along the road they share.” — Marcus Aurelius
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose … death is very likely the single best invention of life.” — Steve Jobs
“The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” — Walt Whitman
What else do you think is important to consider for finding life purpose?
Let me know in the comments.
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