Throughout all recorded time, human beings have wondered about the Big Questions: Is there a God? What happens after we die? What is my purpose in life?
Some would say these questions are all connected. Still others see these philosophical questions as a complete waste of time, preferring instead to live well, do good things for their fellow man, and let it all shake out in the end.
In my opinion, the most important question is that last one — how do we figure out what our purpose in life is? I believe there are three angles to attack this problem from.
Purpose In Life Through Spirituality
Don’t confuse “spirituality” with “religion”. Spiritualists are more concerned with the immaterial nature of life — those intangible factors that impact and influence our daily lives. Religious people follow strict ethical codes as laid out in various spiritual texts or by spiritual leaders. This is an important distinction — spiritual people have their own unique answers to the question of life’s purpose.
A spiritual person trying to figure out their purpose in life would look to their belief set much like a religious person, only they wouldn’t have as specific a “guide” to discovering their life’s purpose as someone who, for instance, follows the teachings of the Bible. Spiritualists might look to the Earth itself — perhaps they would spend their life protecting and defending our natural resources. Many environmentalists are truly spiritualists at heart, and protecting our most precious resource (the very planet we live on) is a noble and worthwhile pursuit. Other spiritually minded individuals would look to the plight of mankind — poverty, poor health, hunger, etc. — and decide to spend their life in pursuit of improving the lives of others. Those of us who concentrate on matters of the spiritual realm see helping our planet and our fellow human beings as the ultimate pursuit in life. What better purpose in life, they may ask, than to make the world a better place?
So how do you find your purpose in life if you are spiritually minded? If you have a favorite charity, you can dive in up to your elbows and work hard for that charity’s purpose. Volunteer, raise money, donate money, or get out on the street and pass out flyers in support of that cause. If you haven’t found the cause that really sets you on fire for life, there are many places to look. Use your personal experience to find your purpose in life. My grandfather died of complications from Alzheimer’s — thus, I raise money for Alzheimer’s research, and donate my time and money to assist those suffering from the disease. Maybe someone in your family has a disease or disorder that could use your help . . . your purpose in life could be as simple as raising awareness about AIDS. If you haven’t yet found your life’s purpose through a charity, dig into your own life, find what weighs on your heart, and seek out a way to make that cause your very own.
A Religious Purpose In Life
Purpose From the Koran
“I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear God and follow me, for God is my Lord, and your Lord, so worship Him: this is the right path. And when Jesus perceived their unbelief, He said, “Who are my helpers for God?” Said the apostles, “We are God’s helpers.” We believe in God, so bear witness that we are resigned. Lord, we have believed in what Thou hast revealed, and we have followed the apostle, so write us down with those which bear witness.”
Purpose From the Bible
“Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Purpose From the Torah
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
Purpose From the Buddhist text of the Great Decease:
“So long as the brethren meet together in full and frequent assemblies–so long as they meet together in concord, and rise in concord, and carry out in concord the duties of the order–so long as the brethren shall establish nothing that has not been already prescribed, and abrogate nothing that has been already established, and act in accordance with the rules of the order as now laid down — so long may the brethren be expected, not to decline, but to prosper.”
Looking for your purpose in life through your religious beliefs can be a rewarding and life affirming experience. The texts are there, and many before you have found their life’s purpose in tese texts. Dig in to your book of choice, and act accordingly.
A Vocational Purpose In Life
Besides simple ethical, spiritual, or religious beliefs, there are those who completely ignore the realm of the spirit world in favor of a more earthly approach to discovering life’s purpose. How can you find your purpose in life if you are an atheist, agnostic, or simply just not that religious?
Consider your job. Regardless of how simple you may feel your job is, you may find that your entire purpose in life is to do your work, and to do it well. I have worked in many jobs, from dishwasher to freelance writer to radio station music director. All of these jobs had some higher purpose that helped others, or brought joy into their lives.
If you are a dishwasher, imagine what life would be like for your customers without your work. It would be impossible to serve the customers food from dirty plates — and as lofty as it may seem, people would go hungry. It may seem a bit “high falutin” to say so, but even a job as simple as a dishwasher makes people’s lives better. Your purpose in life could be to provide a clean and sanitary eating environment.
If you have a high powered job, you can find your life’s purpose there as well. Where would we be without bankers, lawyers, or police officers? As much as we like to grumble about people who work in these difficult jobs, we do need them. Without police, we would have no order. Without bankers, our money would be stuffed into mattresses.
Burying yourself in your job is not always the best idea — everyone needs a break from work, and you don’t want to stress yourself out or wear yourself thin at work. But, if you live without a spiritual or religious guide, finding your life’s purpose can be as easy as looking at your job. Every worker in every society is a crucial piece of society.
Finding your purpose in life can be freeing, stress relieving, and empowering. Look to your spiritual or religious background, your ethical beliefs, or your vocation and you will find something to guide you in your search for the meaning of life. No one on earth is worthless, and every day you wake up breathing and in a sound mind is a day you can make the world a better place.