Do you feel lost or as if something is missing in your life? Maybe you want to make a bigger difference in the world than you feel you are, but you aren’t sure how. Seriously, Why is it so hard to find our life purpose? YET, the goals that foster a sense of purpose are ones that can potentially change the lives of other people! Remember, there is certainly no short supply of problems in this world that need solving. There is no limit on the number of people whom we could help, or inspire, or support. There is no cap on the number of passions we could pursue. Sasa, why our life purpose often feels just out of view?
OK, many seem to believe that purpose arises from your special gifts and sets you apart from other people—but that’s only part of the truth. It also grows from our connection to others, which is why a crisis of purpose is often a symptom of isolation. Once you find your path, you’ll almost certainly find others traveling along with you, hoping to reach the same destination—a community.
Anyway, there are many reasons why you may not know your life purpose! Sometimes it’s because the world’s problems seem too big. Or we seem too small. Or maybe we are just exhausted from life and don’t know where we’ll find the energy to fight for what really matters to us.
But if you want to change all that and find your life purpose, here are the steps you may follow.
> Kwanza kabiiisa, Read, because reading connects us to people we’ll never know, across time and space—an experience that research says is linked to a sense of meaning and purpose. (Note: “Meaning” and “purpose” are linked but separate social-scientific constructs. Purpose is a part of meaning; meaning is a much broader concept that usually also includes value, efficacy, and self-worth! For example, Reading fiction might allow you, but especially adolescents, to reason about the whole lives of characters, giving them specific insight into an entire lifespan without having to have fully lived most of their own lives! By seeing purpose in the lives of other people, you are more likely to see it in your own life. In this sense, purpose is an act of the imagination! So, if you’re feeling a crisis of purpose in your life, go to the bookstore or library or popote, find books that matter to you—and they might help you to see what matters in your own life.
>> Turn hurts into healing for others! Finding purpose is not just an intellectual pursuit; it’s something we need to feel. That’s why it can grow out of suffering, both our own and others’. Sometimes, another person’s pain can lead us to purpose. So one way to find your purpose is to ask yourself: What pain or injustice or unhappiness have you witnessed that you just can’t live with? Is there anything that touches you so deeply that it drives you? Often, a powerful purpose can come from powerful pain.
>>Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism!! Several studies have shown that the experience of awe, that feeling of profound respect for someone or something, makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves—and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose. Of course, awe all by itself won’t give you a purpose in life. It’s not enough to just feel like you’re a small part of something big; you also need to feel driven to make a positive impact on the world. That’s where gratitude and generosity come into play.
It may seem counterintuitive to foster purpose by cultivating a grateful mindset, but it works, probably because, if we can see how others make our world a better place, we’ll be more motivated to give something back.
Here we arrive at altruism. There’s little question, at this point, that helping others is associated with a meaningful, purposeful life. One study, found that people who engage in more altruistic behaviors, like volunteering or donating money, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.
Interestingly, gratitude and altruism seem to work together to generate meaning and purpose. Altruism and gratitude are neurologically linked, activating the same reward circuits in the brain.
>>Listen to what other people appreciate about you! Giving thanks can help you find your purpose. But you can also find purpose in what people thank you for. Artists, writers, and musicians, always describe how appreciation from others fueled their work. Although there is no research that directly explores how being thanked might fuel a sense of purpose, we do know that gratitude strengthens relationships—and those are often the source of our purpose, as many of these stories suggest.
>>Find and build community, Often, the nobility of our purpose reflects the company we keep. If you’re having trouble remembering your purpose, take a look at the people around you. What do you have in common with them? What are they trying to be? What impact do you see them having on the world? Is that impact a positive one? Can you join with them in making that impact? What do they need? Can you give it them? If the answers to those questions don’t inspire you, then you might need to find a new community—and with that, a new purpose may come.
>> Tell your story!! Reading can help you find your purpose—but so can writing! Purpose often arises from curiosity about your own life. What obstacles have you encountered? What strengths helped you to overcome them? How did other people help you? How did your strengths help make life better for others?
We all have the ability to make a narrative out of our own lives. It gives us clarity on our own lives, how to understand ourselves, and gives us a framework that goes beyond the day-to-day and basically helps us make sense of our experiences.
Anyway, finding your life purpose is a life-long journey. It’s okay to take it one step at a time. It’s normal to pause and reevaluate regularly. And it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Nothing worth doing is easy, and this will not always be easy.
You will encounter frustrations and challenges along the way. Some days, you’ll throw your hands up in the air in defeat. But then you’ll remember Step 1. You’re driven to solve this problem, and for some reason, you won’t let yourself give up! Rememer, to Find out what drives OR energizes you OR find out what when why who you are willing to sacrifice for!