The Life Purpose Problem

If you spend any time in the types of circles where I hang out–e.g with yogis, Buddhists, free thinkers, spiritual seekers, etc.–you often will hear people talking about the idea of a “life purpose.” My colleague, Elizabeth Peru, often writes about this in her Tip Off Reports, encouraging people to use the cosmic energies to help them move closer to their purpose. I have often said similar things but had an epiphany today that we are talking about two totally separate things. What I thought people meant when they said they were trying to find their “life purpose” was that they were trying to look inward to understand their own mind and their place in the Universe. What I now realize most other people mean is that they are actually looking to find a specific thing to do and then dedicate the rest of their life to that one thing.

I have studied the yoga texts and other great thought systems and nothing in these great systems speaks to the idea of finding a life purpose. Indeed, searching for happiness and fulfillment in outside sources is very counter to most eastern thought systems, which encourage the search for happiness within and independent of outside accomplishments. However, western ears hear “life purpose” and probably think that this means happiness and fulfillment come upon arriving at a particular destination, whether that is a particular career or relationship.

Where then does our current situation play into this when we are not feeling content? I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that we must find a particular life purpose. To the contrary, striving for outside goals as a source of fulfillment and ultimate happiness is not sustaining. If you allow your happiness and contentment to be dependent on some outside thing like a career or relationship, when the career or relationship goes away, so will your happiness.

This is not to say we must always be content, but there seems to be confusion about where to find that contentment. The yogis and Buddhists say it comes from within whereas astrologers like Elizabeth Peru seem to be implying that it comes, at least in part, from some outside source. It seems logical and appealing to think that if we find some life purpose, we will finally be happy and content. This mentality, however, simply causes an endless chase. Anyone who has set goals and achieved them knows that soon after the happiness from achieving the goal subsides, a strong desire to achieve something else pops up and we are off to the races again to get that next thing.

But what if we were able to sit and look at our current situation and be absolutely content? Some would answer that in such a situation we are content because we have arrived at our life purpose. I agree in this case because the person who sees their present and is content has given up the search for an external life purpose. Rather, they have accepted their present and have no desire to achieve some other outside goal.

This is not easy for some people to accept, but our life purpose is happening right now–for everybody. Whether you are doing what you love or what you hate, this is your life purpose. There is no outside goal to achieve because whatever you do will be fulling your life purpose. This does not mean you will always be happy and content, but at least it takes the responsibility for such feelings inward where they belong. In other words, we need to stop looking for some other purpose and start looking at our present circumstances and figuring out what is preventing us from happiness now. This is not to say that I disagree with the idea of a life purpose in the abstract. I simply believe that we are all already living our purposes now. If and when we start to live or think differently, that is simply part of the journey.

The bottom line is that most of the pressure to find a purpose seems to come from others. Elizabeth Peru is just one teacher who pushes this message, which I think only causes seekers to feel dependent on finding such a purpose for their own happiness. I’m not on this bandwagon, nor do I believe it’s a helpful teaching. If you want to find your life purpose, simply look at your life now and you will see it. This is it–really. Right here. Right now. This is the purpose of your life.

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