What is your purpose in life?
I have a lot of t-shirts. They have all kinds of pictures, slogans, and questions printed on them. There is one that receives more comments than all the others. When I wear it people make comments.
The shirt simply says, "What's your purpose?"
Some of the comments I hear are...
The question resonates.
In 2002 Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life, was published by Zondervan. The book climbed to the top of both The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly best seller lists. It also rose to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List and stayed there for 90 weeks.
Why do you think people are so interested in and motivated by the question, "What's your purpose in life?"
I think it is because you must be living out your purpose if you want to live a less stressful, more balanced, and highly satisfying life .
Living a life of meaning and purpose is one of your spiritual needs.
When needs are not being met, your body activates multiple processes to generate energy. This is so you will have the energy necessary to meet the challenge resulting from the unmet needs. All of these energy generating processes combined are what we call the stress response.
To manage stress well so that it works for you rather than against you, you must use the energy to address the unmet needs.
In this case you must answer the questions, "What is my purpose in life?" and "How can I live out my purpose in life?"
When these questions are not adequately answered, you continue to feel stressed-out. Left unchecked, this stress can make your life miserable. It can also make you sick.
Michael Phelps is a good example of this.
Most of Michael's life has been devoted to winning in the pool. That was his purpose but it was not sufficient. His life was not satisfying.
He had internal stress that brought pain into his life. As long as he was focused on his purpose, as inadequate as it was, he was able to keep the pain somewhat in check.
In 2012 following the London Olympics, Michael decided to retire from swimming. With retirement came a loss of what little purpose his life had.
What happened? How did he get back to winning medals again?
To find out watch this ESPN video.
Martin Seligman, PhD, is a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the founder of positive psychology. He addresses the importance of meaning and purpose in his book Authentic Happiness.
Dr. Seligman says that to experience authentic happiness, you must live a life of meaning and purpose by exercising your strengths and living out virtues.
It is through using your strengths and living out virtues in such a way that you are making a positive difference to something larger than yourself that you find meaning.
Apart from this you experience "the gnawing realization that [you] are fidgeting until [you] die." (p. 8)
Are you living out your life purpose? Would you like to better understand how you can design a less stressful, more balanced and highly satisfying lifestyle? I have written an online course that can help you do just that. Check it out here.