Exploring Purpose in Life
The reason the question of the purpose of life is such a challenging question is because, like the question of love, it doesn’t fit in a box, and we have to contemplate infinity in order to consider its depth. Add to that the many different dimensions of purpose, the boundless complexity, and the fact that the answer is also unique to each one of us, how are we to come up with a single answer?
Though it may be possible to describe a general direction to point to the purpose of life, it can also be helpful to look at the answer to the question of purpose as something we create and manifest through our own lives and choices.
As part of the QUESTion Project I founded, in one of the classes at a public high school in the Bronx, we recently asked students how they understand the purpose of life. One of them said, “The purpose of life is to become who you are.” What incredible wisdom in that statement! One way to create purpose is indeed to BE ourselves. And the mystery involved in being ourselves is that ‘who we are’ is limitless.
Simply allowing ourselves to be who we are – and by this I mean acting authentically, taking risks and following both our reason and intuition – offers an endless opportunity to create. Perhaps the reason the student said, “become who you are,” is because that infinite depth of who we are is indeed already within us as uncreated potential.
It is through having the courage to pursue the sense of direction we feel (sometimes vague but nonetheless present and other times very clear and specific) that we create and outwardly become the self we inherently are and the meaning we feel pulled to bring about.
This is why it is so important to support young people as they search for direction, and why we all need to have courage to ask big questions about life and pursue something that is not already clear and that may challenge the security of a known or static identity.
In pursuing this unknown direction, we gain confidence. We see that though we first experience purpose as a sense of possibility, by pursuing it, something real and concrete is created. That gives us more courage to continue to pursue the unformed sense of direction and possibility we feel inside and discover the ever new ways we can contribute to the world or to others.
In this process of creating meaning, of expanding the boundaries of who we are, we can also discover that the pursuit of purpose is not a solo journey, and that “becoming ourselves” stretches beyond the boundaries of our individuality, as it starts to be about our interconnected humanity. Then the line between “our” purpose and “the” purpose starts to blur…and inspiration carries us closer to understanding and experiencing the limitless nature of purpose.
Copyright © 2015 Excellence Reporter