…This is a really tricky question, isn’t it? Have you ever thought about it? Do you have an answer already?
Once our needs of survival are satisfied, bills are paid, we are healthy, have a job that keeps us busy and a loving partner, some of us might be completely happy and fulfilled with our lives.
But in reality, it’s not so easy to be content with what you have. Most people are on the search for more to be happy, like happiness was a destination to get to in some distant future, or a goal to achieve. You might be asking yourself: Is this it? Is this all? Isn’t there something more important for me to do? What is the meaning of my life? What is my purpose here on this planet Earth?
In my opinion these are immensely interesting and important questions to ask. According to Eckhart Tolle there are two kinds of purpose, the inner and the outer.
Our inner purpose is to be exactly here, doing what we are doing (which is reading this sentence), exactly now. Being present. While this sounds easy, it actually isn’t. Let’s do an experiment: Stop reading for a minute, close your eyes, and experience this moment.
How did it go? Our minds constantly jump between memories of the past to projections of the future. When we are truly in the present, there is nothing else that matters. It’s also called being in flow, which we may have experienced during an engaging discussion with a friend, a game of tennis, painting, or whatever it is that lets us enter our bubble of timelessness.
The NOW is so important because it is the only thing that truly exists. The past is gone, never to return in the same way, and the future is yet unwritten. But, if we make our present moment a good one, it’s more likely that the next moment will be good, too. Doing our best in whatever we are doing now will have a positive impact on your future. You can’t connect the dots looking forward. But every little dot along the way is going to connect to a line when you look back some day. The better we’ve made each dot, the better the line is going to be. Trusting the process – that’s our inner purpose.
The outer purpose is what we usually describe as our meaning of life or a legacy that we want to leave behind. This one is important because it helps us to give our life a direction. It’s like a compass that will guide us to find our way. Without a clear purpose, we might feel lost, like life is passing us by. We might be consumed by stress and worry, or restricted by obligations we’ve set upon ourselves (e.g. working in jobs that we hate to be able to buy a house somewhere we don’t even want to live but society kinda expects it from us).
But figuring out our purpose is not easy and it’s not quick either. It’s a process that may take up a good part of your life, and that’s okay. As long as you do think about it! Here are some questions to ask yourself: What drives you crazy (yes, also in a negative way)? What energises you? What are you willing to sacrifice for? Who do you want to serve and how?
Most importantly, when it comes to figuring out your purpose, listen to your intuition. Switch off your brain for a bit and let your heart speak. Take time, retreat, get to know yourself. Because as already Steve Job said (and the guy certainly did something right in his life):
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Don’t live someone else’s purpose. Live your own one!