5 Ideas to Consider in Finding Your Purpose in Life
In life we are faced with a number of choices and decisions that shape our experiences and contribute to our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. At times we may be faced with an existential dilemma in which we are considering the magnitude of our choices and the ‘purpose’ or rationale that we attribute to following through with those choices.
Purpose is what gives our lives meaning, and it’s essential for our happiness and wellbeing. We may understand purpose through our goals or ambitions, but it becomes something greater than a specific achievement or status ranking.
Our sense of purpose can motivate us towards a fulfilling life path and understanding of that path as meaningful. Our purpose can be a sense of self, a sense of belonging, something we have reason to value, a sense of being part of a larger whole, a calling or passion, and/or something that compels us to act. In all cases, our purpose defines and shapes our actions and behaviors, and it’s what gives our lives meaning.
Yet, it becomes an elusive concept as we begin to sift through internal dilemmas we may face throughout the course of our lives. Many of us want to live fulfilling and satisfying lives. In order to believe that we are on a path that will lead us towards increased life satisfaction and happiness, it may be important for us to experience our life goals aligning with our sense of purpose.
Challenges to Finding Purpose
When we consider our own mental health in relation to our sense of purpose, we may notice a disconnect between our inner desires and passions and our outer environments and life choices. It is also common that certain symptoms may hinder or complicate our understanding of our life’s purpose.
When we experience depression, for example, we may find it difficult to engage in activities that we once enjoyed due to loss of interest or loss of energy, which may be enough to prevent us from engaging in these activities over time. In this way, we start to slowly lose sight of what had once been so important to us and what may have added to our sense of life satisfaction.
Five Ideas to Consider in Finding Purpose in Your Life
Consider these five ideas as you begin to uncover your own sense of purpose in life:
- Define what you value in life and what matters to you. You may want to ask yourself what it is you want to change, contribute to or resolve with regard to pain or suffering around you.
- Engaging in activities that energize you and align with your sense of passion.
- Sense of belonging. Consider different aspects of your life and moments in which you experience a strong sense of belonging, as if you fit like a puzzle piece. It may be helpful to think about what contributes to your sense of belonging.
- Defining your strengths and best ways to utilize them in various avenues of your life.
- ‘Bucket List’ goal setting. Consider what it is that excites you and that you would regret missing out on in life if you did not make attempts to work towards having these experiences.
Remember that our sense of purpose can change and transform over time, and that is ok. What fit well at one stage of our life may not be meaningful or valuable to us in a different stage based on our own development and growth. Allow yourself to connect with your true feelings and desires without guilt or shame and validate the parts of you that may not have been attended to in the past.
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