A Purposeful life

Why is it beneficial to have a purpose in life?

Our purpose in life does not have to be as grand as saving the world, making a new invention or winning a Nobel prize. It can be as simple and small as handling a certain situation in an appropriate way.

The most important benefit of having a purpose in life is that working on fulfilling it makes us confident and self-assured.  Lacking a purpose in life, on the other hand, is not only likely to make us feel lost and miserable, but it is also linked to lower life expectancy.  According to a study done by NHS (National Health Service), there is a strong association between having a purpose in life and living a longer life *.  

Have you noticed how certain uncomfortable events in your life have a tendency of repeating themselves?  The first time an unpleasant event happens, you blame the situation on others, or you blame it on your lack of experience, your lack of maturity or myriad other things. But then, similar events happen again and again.  And you begin to wonder, could I be in some way contributing to these bad situations occurring in my life? Am I in some way responsible for the unpleasant outcomes of these situations?

It’s like the story of a person who kept on falling in the pothole. The first time he fell, he blamed the pothole, the authorities for not taking care of the pothole, and how it was their fault that he fell in it. The second time he fell, he told himself that he will be more careful the next time. The third time, despite his alertness, he still fell.  And the last time, he was more alert, careful and prepared. This time he did not fall in the pothole. Nor did he fall the subsequent times.

In a minuscule scale, the purpose of life for this man was to avoid falling into the pothole.  Once he was able to avoid it, he could move on, energized to handle other challenges. Similarly, the purpose of our life may be to handle the uncomfortable situations we find ourselves in, in such a manner that they do not bring within us anxiety and fear or cause unpleasant outcomes.  Once we are able to confront and resolve the situation appropriately, we are able to move on, energized to handle other challenges.

Confronting and resolving the situation to meet our purpose may require us to develop and hone different skills and abilities. It may require deep soul searching and introspection. We may be required to step out of our comfort zone to handle situations differently, to approach situations creatively or to do something we may not have done before.   All this is not easy. It requires perseverance, new learning, and determination.

But take heart, for the most beautiful thing about having a purpose in life is that once we decide on it, we are never alone. As the Alchemist, Paulo Coelho famously said:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping 
you to achieve it.”

The effort and actions required to fulfill our purpose, just on their own, makes us feel motivated and optimistic.  This is regardless of how successful we are in fulfilling our purpose. They serve as stepping stones and spur us on to accomplish bigger and better things.  

Our lives have many purposes. There could be many things destined to happen in our lives, but if we are not prepared for them and ready to handle them, we may let many opportunities slip by.  These opportunities could have lead us to volitionally come up with a bigger purpose, which could entail, after all, saving the world, making a new invention or winning a Nobel prize.

*     https://www.nhs.uk/news/mental-health/people-with-purpose-in-life-live-longer-study-advises/

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