I find in the clinic that many of the people who come to me with emotional stress overwhelming their lives, have difficulty telling me why they are living. I can usually tease out some of their understandings, but it usually relates to specific life circumstances—and this is partly why they get emotionally stressed.
Sure there are times when we experience milestones and feel highly fulfilled, such as the birth of our children, our grandchildren, our weddings, getting our qualifications, being in special places at special times, making love to that special person, celebrating Christmas and birthdays, when we receive awards and recognition, and in times of peace.
But these are all short-lived and while together they may be fun and contribute to a compelling and passionate life, the fabric they weave is not wholly the purpose of being alive.
Between these desirable occasions we may also experience boredom, desperation, illness, loss, tragedy, alienation, defamation, war, aggression, and other challenges to our survival.
And when we look at our survival we look for a type of quality from moment to moment and we require a dynamic tension between, on the one hand, having predictability, familiarity, comfort and permanence; and on the other hand, surprise, randomness, impermanence and challenge.
Now all of our experiences add to the nature of our lives, our story, how we have responded to the changes confronting our lives. What is the purpose of all this, as we progress from one experience to another, attempting to stay alive with quality and predictability? What is the driving force that wakes us each morning, makes us breathe, gives us the knowing about ourselves as being alive, and takes us with it at death, leaving our shell of a body to decay into the earth?
What is the purpose of being alive?
All of us ask this at some time in our lives, and if you have created an answer that gives you personal satisfaction and comfort, then your life will probably have a passionate pull to make you live at a level of excellence, self-recognition, fulfilment, and happiness. If you cannot answer this question, you will more than likely be thrown around like a small boat without a sail or rudder in a stormy sea, alone within a multitude of souls, pushing this way and that.
Recognising your personal understanding of the purpose of life can continually lead you to experience more of the ‘sweeter pathway that exists in every person’s changeable life’. Knowing why you live, and regularly bringing this to mind, can keep triggering the pull of life; the urgency that will make you want to relive your moments and to never waste them.
I think that you can recognise your ‘purpose in life’ by the way you make decisions from moment to moment, and how you regard your decisions, to evolve and refine your personal character traits, and how you define yourself and your life story.
We make decisions and evolve ourselves from moment to moment by using one or more of four human qualities: we make decisions based on our senses; we make decisions based on our intellect, memory, rational and reasoning; we make decisions based on emotional experiences; and we make decisions using intuition.
So I think you should consider answering the question of your ‘purpose of being alive’ using these four qualities.
Some people relate the ‘purpose of living’ simply to physical existence—that which is based on our senses—biology, reproduction, survival of the fittest, escape from physical suffering, the passing of our genes—or by understanding theoretical cosmology.
Those who relate best to survival through focusing on physical existence, are inclined to say that ‘the purpose of life’ is:
- To achieve biological perfection.
- To survive, and live as long as possible.
- To adapt and evolve.
- To replicate, to reproduce.
- To fill the earth and subdue it.
- To distribute wealth.
- To strive for power and superiority and rule the world.
- To have enough money and materials to do the things your heart desires.
On the next level …
People relate ‘the purpose of living’ to logic, science, maths—the pragmatic, the intellectual, the philosophical, the cultural, ideological and sociological theses. The forming of knowledge; or of leaving the world in a better place when we pass on, or of goodness and virtue—of excellence and judgement in our interactions with others and ourselves.
Those who relate best to the intellect, are inclined to say that the ‘purpose of life’ is:
- To seek wisdom and knowledge.
- To expand one’s perception of the world.
- To be responsible and honourable.
- To know as much as possible about as many things as possible.
- To seek wisdom and knowledge and to tame the mind.
- To find a reason to live.
- To do your best and leave every situation better than you found it.
- To give more than you take.
- To realize your greatest potential and ideals.
- To chase and live your dreams.
- To follow or submit to your destiny.
- To matter: to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference throughout your life.
- To continually expand your potential.
- To become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
- To be a true authentic human being.
- To do good, and to do the right thing.
If we go up another level …
Most people relate ‘life’s purpose’ at this level as a drive to escape emotional suffering and to accumulate those emotional experiences that give drive and momentum to life. The purpose being—to experience love and joy—love through our contribution to others and ourselves; joy through developing our survival skills, to give us a sense of freedom, and fun.
Those who relate best to the emotions, are inclined to say that ‘the purpose of life’ is:
- To seek happiness.
- To end suffering.
- To create equality.
- To challenge oppression.
- To be generous and contribute to the well-being and spirit of others.
- To face our fears and accept the lessons life has to offer.
- To help one another.
- To accept and forgive human flaws.
- To seek peace.
- To treasure every enjoyable sensation one has.
- To seek beauty in all its forms.
- To have fun or enjoy life by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.
- To be compassionate.
- To love others as best we possibly can.
And if we go up one more level …
There are people who strive to understand that there is a ‘life purpose’ which relates to nurturing the harmony of aliveness, which we recognise in other living things. Of weaving our existence through other living things. Of evolving a mind as part of a sea of minds, linking with God, or Brahma or the living universe.
Those who relate best to a connection beyond themselves, are inclined to say that ‘the purpose of life’ is:
- To achieve flourishing of our collective human spirit.
- To worship God and enter heaven in afterlife.
- To have a pure soul and experience oneness with God.
- To know or attain union with the life force of the universe.
- To love something bigger, greater, and beyond ourselves, something we did not create nor have the power to create—something intangible and made holy by our very belief in it.
- To live a life as a precious part of humanity and be a part of a force which is evolving something greater than our individual selves.
And then there are those who negate all, by claiming there is no purpose. They tend to say such things as:
- “Life or human existence has no real meaning or purpose because human existence occurred out of a random chance in nature, and anything that exists by chance has no intended purpose.”
- Or, “Life has no meaning, but as humans we try to associate a meaning or purpose—so we can justify our existence.”
- Or, “The answer to the meaning of life is too profound to be known and understood … so why bother.”
If you follow negative beliefs such as these, you will more than likely be framing a life which can restrict your freedom to grow and have quality through purpose—right up to your dying breath. That is however, your choice, because you are alive and this is your life.
Now one part of our experiencing freedom relates to the variety of options we give ourselves. So I suggest you give yourself options and consider taking a little from each of the four human qualities that you use every day to make decisions from moment to moment in your life. Allow these to frame your answer to ‘the purpose of living’.
And so we know there is a physical purpose to being alive day to day—we move ourselves here and there and survive physically. There can be higher or lower purpose to this. Find some higher purpose meaning in your physical reality.
And we deduce reasons for our existence, our striving for desires, wants and needs from day to day. Attempt to choose higher purpose meaning to your reasoning and explanations.
And our emotions are such powerful drivers, that most of us prefer pleasure over pain. Attempt to recognise love and joy and embed them within your thoughts as a higher meaning for living.
And regularly take time to experience quiet moments, for in your quiet moments you can join with something that is greater than yourself—something that has your life mapped. Revere this and use it to assist you to continually reconstruct a higher purpose meaning to your life journey.
As you live day to day, if you can practice keeping your integrated definitions of ‘your purpose for living’ uppermost in your mind, then you will find that it will certainly help your life-story to become fulfilled while generating a passionate and compelling drive to experience the most of you as a living entity among other living entities.
If however, you find it challenging to do this, or find yourself experiencing more sadness, anger and anxiety rather than love and joy, then consider joining my Unleash Your Happiness course. In this 10-week course I will teach you skills and techniques for managing emotional stress and helping you define and create the extraordinary life of higher purpose you desire!