I believe purpose matters. It’s a deep source of energy and motivation for me. It’s a valuable checkpoint for evaluating my actions. It’s an intelligent way to provide a framework for systematic behavior patterns in everyday life. And it’s the best available cure for my feelings of meaninglessness and anxiety.
After all, it is easier to get out of bed when you have a horizon to point to. The heaviest burden is having nothing to carry.
But I also believe that purpose can quickly become bastardized when it’s treated as a another technique. As a superficial personal development tactic that perfectly compartmentalizes life a neat little package.
Look, I’ve read all the books and listened to all the tapes and attended all the seminars and done all the exercises, but I don’t find it useful to have a singular, concise, perfectly crafted mantra of purpose. I don’t find it necessary to have a coherent statement of my life’s ultimate vision.
Firstly, because purpose is a moving target. It changes every year, if not every six months. Secondly, most people need multiple life purposes. The goal isn’t to find the meaning of life, but to create life’s many meanings. Third, purpose is too important to be reduced to a soundbite nicety. Nothing against people who carry around an index card with a single sentence that encapsulates their entire existence, but frankly, my life isn’t that simple. Purpose isn’t a homework assignment.
Taoist literature reminds us that words obstruct understanding by creating the illusion of understanding. That words can confine and limit with the deception that the mystery has been captured. That when there is naming, the name is mistaken for what has been named.
And so, don’t be brainwashed into believing that you need to prove your purpose to anyone. There’s no purpose police that’s going to require you to produce, on command, a tidy little statement that trivializes the governing principles of your existence.
In fact, sometimes the quest for purpose actually takes you away from what matters most. Because you will never live your purpose if you’re too busy trying to define it.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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