Do you remember the Monster.com commercial that shows a series of kids saying things like, “When I grow up, I want to claw my way up to middle management” and “When I grow up I want to be paid less for doing more?”
This commercial was such a sensation because it hit on a fundamental truth that most people are dissatisfied with their lives.
Why We Need Purpose
Feeling that you have purpose in life is fundamental to your total wellbeing. Everyone needs to feel as if their life matters, as if they count for something. Without purpose we feel adrift in the vast sea of life.
For most people purpose has to do with doing, like having a career or a hobby that is meaningful. For others,purpose means to overcome negative karma or learn a kind of cosmic lesson. For example, it’s your karma in this lifetime to work on healing negative relationship … and this work gives your life purpose.
Unfortunately you cannot find purpose, happiness, and meaning through your work or by fixating on your cosmic life lessons.
Sure, having meaningful work that pays well is wonderful and necessary. You have hands that are made to touch, hold, and to work. But as circumstances change due to environment or age, finding meaning in work will always be short lived.
While it is necessary to find meaning in our suffering, and being on a merry-go-round of bad relationships is suffering, suffering is never anyone’s purpose in life. No one is born to suffer. You are born to be happy.
Finding Meaning, Purpose, and Ultimate Happiness
If you’re reading this article then you already know that happiness is to be found within. What you may not know is that you cannot have feelings of happiness at the same time that you are feeling isolated and alone. Meaning, happiness, and purpose are interwoven with feelings of belonging.
No one would argue that the great philosopher, physician, humanitarian, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer lived a meaningful and mostly happy life. He wrote about and lived by a philosophy he called, “Reverence for Life.” Reverence for life simply acknowledges the fact that all beings have an innate will-to-live. Humans, monkeys, mice, even bacteria all have a will-to-live.
As this article eludes to, Albert Schweitzer believed that it is within this will-to-live where you will find your oneness with life. And that a happy person is one who upholds the will-to-live in all things and refuses to harm life. In doing this Life lives through you.
As a practice, he advocated simple acts that helped to preserve and support life. Doing things like helping an insect out of puddle, helps to create the feeling of belonging that we all crave.
As mentioned at amsa.org, from this point of view, purpose has little to do with the pursuit of personal happiness but surrender to a greater, universal purpose of advancing life in all things.
In surrendering to the greater purpose your life becomes a like a natural spring bursting with the awe and power of life. The desire that you have for meaning, purpose, and happiness is only the will-to-live within you knocking at the door of your heart.
So place both hands over your heart, take a deep breath, and say, “Today, I support the will-to-live within myself and everyone and everything I come in contact with.” Let the will-to-live within you be a constant reminder of your true purpose, to be one with Life through supporting life.