The Importance of Having a Purpose in Life
Feeling that you have a purpose is one of the most important things in life… in fact, I’d suggest it’s the most important.
After all, how does it make you behave when you feel you have no purpose? What emotions does it dredge up in you? How does your day go when there doesn’t seem to be any real purpose in your life?
I’m going to hazard a guess and say that it causes you to feel pretty down about yourself. That you find yourself going into a depression or a numbness or a “Who cares, it doesn’t matter anyway” attitude. That you get bored, tired, listless, lazy, unmotivated. That your day drags by slowly and nothing seems too exciting to you. I’m going to guess that if you’ve ever felt like you had no purpose in life, you’ve probably been in a pretty low place.
At least I know I have.
Having a Purpose in Life Provides Motivation.
It Gives You a Reason for Being.
It lights a fire in us to get things done. It gives us a goal to shoot for. It pushes us internally to create, to do, to be better. It sets us up to succeed. It gives our life meaning.
So you see, feeling that you have a purpose is extremely important. Yet so many of us find it difficult to say that we have one – or if we sense we must have one, to know what it is. Why is this?
Let’s explore. And perhaps in doing so, we’ll discover that light within we call “purpose.”
I believe much of this lack in purpose, this sense of “purposelessness” as it were, originally stems from childhood, where so many of us are told that to be accepted, to be praised, to feel loved, we were required to be something we ultimately were not. “Be more like your sister” perhaps, or “be good at Math and get straight A’s.” Those are some of the more benign ones.
But there’s more serious ones, ones that strike into the soul of a child and create wounds so deep they will scar forever. Such as; “Your skin color is too dark” or “your body is too big/small/different” or “you are not feminine/masculine/beautiful enough.”
When these messages are given to us as children, they are telling us that in order for us to exist on this planet, we need to change something about ourselves to fit in. By telling a child that they need to be something other than they are in order to be accepted, we are telling them they have no value – and therefore no purpose – unless they give us what we are asking for, which in many cases is an impossible task. This creates a conflict they cannot resolve, and causes them to lose their inner sense of power, of value, and ultimately, of purpose.
When we put these false values upon a child, we are denying the truth about them – about each of us. That is: that we each are born with a purpose. It comes pre-packaged as part of us.
Our purpose is simply to… be. To be who we are, exactly as we are, right here, right now. Nothing else is required of us in order to have a purpose on this planet.
And in that being, we give to everyone around us. Just as in their being, they give to us. Simple as that. It is our purpose to live, and by doing so, to give.
Children know this inherently, they feel it in themselves, they love who they are naturally and sense they have a purpose for being here. At least, they do initially, when they start out. It is only after programming that this sense of purpose can get distorted, or hidden away.
Think about this: what if each of us could let go of every label we’ve ever accepted about ourselves and stamped onto our foreheads? What if we could set aside the thought that what we Do is what we Are?
What if we could put away the idea that our value is driven by anything outside of ourselves – money, possessions, careers, families, friends, even our physical bodies and what they look like? What if we could let those things go for a moment, because the truth is, none of those things actually gives us a purpose or are the purpose of our lives?
They’re just ideas. Things. Labels. Activities. They are not who we are, and they do not define our worth, they simply mark events and comment on the timeline of our lives. But take them all away – and the essence of you is still there. You still exist, as you are, whether any of those things surround you or fill your life, or not.
So if all of that were to disappear tomorrow, would it cause you to disappear also? Would your purpose in life go away?
I’m betting that this year of 2020 and all it has entailed has probably caused many of you to feel at times like it all already has been taken away, and you’ve been left with nothing but you, and now you have no purpose.
But that’s not true. Because the purpose of who you are – who I am – who every single one of us is – lies not in anything outside of ourselves. Our purpose lies within. Our purpose has been here with us since we were those little children being handed untrue expectations and burdened with beliefs that caused us to lose sight of ourselves, to forget who we are, and to lose our true sense of purpose.
Think back to that time, to as far back as you can go, to when you were so small that none of these things had yet been said to you, or if they had you were too little to even notice them or note what they really meant. You were playing, you were laughing, you were light and happy. The biggest drama in your day was whether you could get that cookie or not, or if your friend would share their toys. But for the most part, your days were filled with the delight of discovering this world which was so new to you, so unexplored, and so full of possibilities.
And if you can’t find those memories because they are just too far back to exist in your consciousness, or perhaps never had the chance to form at all, play pretend with me. Remember with me as if it were you.
Remember what it felt like to be that young – and what it felt like to simply be. To have no agenda, no responsibility, no pressure to perform. What it felt like to spend a summer day simply laying on a lawn staring at the sky to find shapes in the clouds above you.
What it felt like to play in the sprinklers and laugh with your friends until the sun began to set and your mothers called you inside for dinner. What it felt like to say goodnight knowing you’d see them all tomorrow, to love those friends just as they were, with no thoughts other than how much fun you had together.
What it felt like to be enthralled with the magic you knew was in everything, most especially the Dandelion that you’d just plucked and made a wish upon. Remember blowing on that tiny puffball until all the seeds caught the wind and went up to the sky to take your wishes with them.
Remember what it felt like to snuggle deep into clean sheets on your bed, knowing you were safe. What it felt like to know that love surrounded you for no other reason than because you were who you were – a child. A small human. A part of your parents and family and of it all. And it was all good.
Remember with me what it felt like to have no expectations of yourself or anyone around you, other than to run, play, laugh, sing, dance, and be happy. To be a child.
Think now, if you have a child of your own – or if not, perhaps you have a four-footed one (mine are called Dexter and Luci) – or if not those, perhaps a child or animal of a friend or family that you know and love – think about them and what you expect of them. Certainly, good behavior comes to mind – but go deeper. What is their purpose to you? What do you think their purpose is for themselves?
When we honestly look into ourselves, and at that innocent child or animal, is it not obvious that the answer is: their purpose is simply to be in my life?
There is nothing more required of them than that they exist? And by their very existence, my life is better? Are these not some of the thoughts that cross your mind?
(Granted, if that child and/or animal is yours and being belligerent and disobedient, these are not going to be the first thoughts in your mind. However, if you dig down deep and look at them during a time of love and joy, when they are being especially cute and sweet and you just want to cuddle them, I am betting your thoughts run more toward what was just said.)
So if we can apply that purpose to them, that value to them, how is it that we cannot apply it to ourselves? We are just as much a child of the universe as they.
I wrote an article last year talking about my “Finding My Cat Value.” This article now is touching on that same concept. Our value – and our purpose – are not tied up in anything other than the fact that we exist.
Because We Are Here, We Matter.
And because we matter, we have a purpose for being here.
We make life better by our very existence – or we can, if we choose to do so. As we get older, we can make the choice to ignore our purpose, and to make life more difficult for ourselves and everyone around us. But that is not and never will be our true purpose, even if for some people they believe it is. It’s not. They’ve strayed from their true purpose, forgotten it, pushed it aside, and because of that, they are now acting out of pain.
When we remember our true purpose – it changes everything. Suddenly, whether we have a job or not, whether we can leave our home or not, whether we have the career or the clothes or the car or the home or the family or the body or the skin color or whatever, or not… none of that really matters. Because we are no longer finding our purpose – and therefore our power or our value – in those things. We are owning it within us.
We can go through an entire day having done nothing more than played with the cat on our patio and gone for a walk, and feel we’ve had a purposeful and good day. We can forgive ourselves for not having the career we thought we’d have by now or being in whatever situation we may find ourselves at this moment or not getting anything accomplished for the week we’d intended on doing.
We can take heart – indeed, take our hearts and lift them – knowing we still do have a purpose in life, and that purpose will always lead us to the right things in our lives, to finding those things which define that purpose within us, which celebrate it, which acknowledge it, and which affirm it.
Because when we have that inner sense of purpose, that purpose that shows us our power and value, it guides us to do things that bring us to people, places and events that confirm and support who we are.
It gives us the inspiration to look for that job that ends up our career, to meeting those people we end up loving, to surround ourselves and fill our lives with the things that reflect what we believe about ourselves. And that belief is that because we have a purpose, we have a value, and because we have value, we have the power to do and be whatever the heck we want.
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It motivates us. It inspires us. It helps us to create. It energizes us. It leads us to our successes. It reminds us that no matter what, we already are a success simply because we are here.
It all comes back to purpose.
We are now collectively going through our own Big C-Word on a global scale.
And as before, I’ve been noticing those Moments of Beauty within it, if for no other reason than to keep my mind and spirit sane.
I write them down to honor those who have been lost because of it, and those who are still fighting it.
I write them down that I may remember them on days when I find it hard to feel any joy. Because, like before, there are days when it is hard enough to find my slippers, much less my joy.
But I choose to look for it anyway. So I write them down, that I might heal.
Remeber Who You Are
So if you’re feeling lately that you have no purpose in life, that the world has taken away that which gives you purpose, know this: it never can. It never will, unless you let it.
So don’t let it. Take it back. Remember who you are. Remember, right now, you have a purpose. You always did, and you always will have a purpose in life.
Now get out there and shine your beautiful purposeful light into the world. Lord knows it needs it.
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By JEANETTE DUBOIS
Jeanette is a film & tv editor, writer, director and producer who’s worked on Emmy & Telly Award winning shows, movies, and music videos for a variety of networks. She’s also a trained operatic who mostly sings to her cats now, though sometimes she expands her audience to her family & friends. She loves gardening, good books, good wine, and good conversations, preferably all at the same time.
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