Common among us is the drive to find life purpose. Every personal development plan can benefit from activities designed to uncover and clarify life purpose.
The purpose driven life, we are told, is worth seeking. Numerous research studies indicate that those with meaning and purpose in their lives are generally happier. They are more productive, healthier, and live longer than those whose lives lack purpose.
It would be great to jet off and discover my life’s purpose on the road (think “EAT, LOVE, PRAY.”) Unlike a film, though, our lives aren’t resolved and fulfilled in a two hour window. They are not typically defined by a sole vacation, either.
Finding Life Purpose
There are many approaches to finding life purpose. All approaches, however, involve serious and honest self reflection and assessment. Life purpose is truly an inside job, a do-it-yourself project of utmost importance.
When you are a seeker of finding your purpose in life it pays to ask the question: “What is my life purpose?”
Take time to reflect on this question. This reflection can include a meditation session or the conscious exercise of writing responses to the question. Reflection could include taking a short trip to a quiet spot where you feel most at peace. I find that meditating near bodies of water like rivers or oceans often helps me find clarity and peace.
Can’t make a trip but love the sounds of the ocean or communing with nature? Head to your backyard or the nearest pond. Find a forest trail nearby to walk along. If it’s too cold out, bring nature inside with a new houseplant for your home or put on a recording of ocean waves while you meditate.
What is Life Purpose?
In approaching the question of purpose in life, take a step back to consider the qualities or characteristics of life purpose. Many people focus on social or employment activities when thinking of purpose, but often greater clarity will arise from understanding that life purpose is composed of a set of personal qualities that characterize a person at her best.
These qualities, or states of being, are present and in the forefront of a person fulfilling life purpose. Life purpose is primarily about who you are. How you are while involved in life activities.
What activities foster and support you in utilizing the qualities that characterize your purpose?
Life Purpose is Being Not Doing
States of being are the qualities one is displaying or feeling while engaged in activities. States of being are closely aligned with values and characteristics.
Examples are generosity, compassion, adventurous, curiosity, helpfulness, competitive, which are just a few of the hundreds of possible descriptors.
Need help digging deep? Conscious Lifestyle Magazine has a wonderful article with 10 deep questions to help you find your purpose.
The Fail-safe Indicator of Life Purpose
Life purpose is different for every person. One fail-safe indicator that signals you are on the right path to aligning with your purpose is positive emotion. Use your positive feelings to guide you. When living a purposeful life, it’s easy to find joy in everyday life and actions.
Positive emotions always accompany life purpose. So self awareness of emotions is an important requirement when seeking to find life purpose.
Not in touch with your emotions? Meditation can be helpful here, too. Sit in a quiet place and ask yourself how you are feeling. Be still and wait for the answer to reveal themselves.
Read up on the subject, too, or consider visiting a counselor. Tiny Buddha has a great article with 4 tips for getting more in touch with your emotions.
How to Practice Awareness
Self awareness is an important asset and skill. Self awareness is the ability to observe oneself while carrying on normal daily activities. The self observation should include recognition of the emotions being felt, the qualities of personality being displayed, and the activities undertaken.
For example, when talking with a friend who is whining and complaining about her job, you might observe some tension and annoyance. You may have some unspoken criticisms and advice bubbling up inside. You might find yourself giving half-hearted support and trying to move the conversation on to other topics.
Once you are aware of your emotions and the qualities of personality you are displaying, you can begin to work on aligning them to match your life purpose. For example, if you have determined part of your life purpose is compassion, rather than offering half-hearted support, you may opt to simply listen without judgement. You may choose to compliment your friend and uplift her spirits, rather than steering the conversation away from her troubles.
Activities and Exercises for Finding Life Purpose
Though the core of your life purpose is composed of qualities or characteristics of being, you also experience meaning and purpose in life through activities. These exercises help provide insight:
- Qualities Admired in Others – Think of two people you greatly admire. What qualities of these people do you admire? These same qualities are aspects of your life purpose.
- Activities Bringing Joy – What activities bring you joy? Reflect on the qualities of personality you’re displaying while in these activities. These are components of your life purpose.
- Lottery Winner – Imagine you won a huge lottery one year ago and have bought everything you ever wanted. Now, with more money than you’ll ever be able to spend, consider what you’ll do with the rest of your life. What qualities are you displaying when that occurs?
- Writing Exercise – Finish this sentence: “My life purpose is…” Repeat this over and over. Answer it daily until you reach a moment of great clarity, perhaps accompanied by strong emotions.
As I’ve entered my second season of life, finding purpose has been a topic of great interest to me. I hope these insights and exercises help you along your journey as much as they are helping me! I may never fully understand my entire life’s purpose. Depending upon your religious beliefs, you may agree that it’s not something we may fully achieve in this lifetime. Meditation has helped bring plenty of focus, clarity and peace into my daily life, though, so I hope you take time to find a quiet spot along your travels to reflect and embrace all the beauty you have to offer the world!