For your life to have meaning, it must have a purpose unique to you.
But how do you find that purpose?
Too often you may have heard ‘follow your dreams’.
This advice is stupid.
It is way too broad and undefined.
You’ll be left with abstract ideas; nothing personal, nothing concrete.
Man gets results from having boundaries that he can transcend.
It is the hero story of all the greats: those who came back against the odds and won. That is emotionally compelling.
You need a tension to drive you, a goal that is deeply unique to you.
You may have also been told to ‘do what makes you happy’.
But who has ever proved happiness was the solution to anything!?
Happiness is just a pleasant emotion dependent on sadness for its meaning.
It is just a by-product of a deeper contentment.
Our society is full of short-term gratification: TV, fast food, YouTube, Facebook, porn on-demand, and so on.
All of the above are designed for short-term relief, to drag your attention away from an undesirable present.
None of those things engage your soul and drive you on to a greater purpose.
Yet they are everywhere, tempting you in with bright lights, funny clips and hot women tacitly implying that these things can make you happy.
The truth is that you cannot always be happy, and if you were, you’d just want something else anyway! That is man’s nature.
The key to finding your purpose is by moving beyond the notion of happiness.
It is to be determined and deeply emotionally involved in a goal that frees you from the emotional whims of the mind.
When you’re engrossed in a movie, sports game, debate, conversation, or whatever else, that is where you want to be.
Not happy, but engrossed.
This piece will show you how to find that state in your actual life rather than the activities you engage in to take your mind off your life.
- Pull Your Soul from the Past
You cannot fully engage with your purpose if your soul is stuck in the events of the past.
We are all moulded by histories that have heavily influenced the way we look at the world, but who says they are correct?
To live out your purpose you need your deepest attention with you in the here and now, not stuck in an event that happened in your childhood, or in an ongoing fight with a family member or girlfriend.
So firstly, your purpose is to iron out whatever pain you’re holding onto from the past.
Ex-girlfriends, abusive fathers, high-school humiliation, whatever it is, you must be prepared to face it down once and for all.
How you do this is dependent upon the magnitude of your internal pain.
If you feel your issues are relatively manageable, writing thoroughly about your past and exploring your feelings, then sharing that with a trusted friend will suffice.
But ensure you have a clear notion of how NOT to repeat past mistakes.
If you are facing heavy trauma, professional help should be sought to untangle yourself from the web of pain and destruction.
Until you are free to face reality as it is, without personal judgement, you will be blocked from living in your purpose.
- Bear Your Cross
Whatever monsters you find in your past; facing them will be an ongoing personal duty.
Do this with pride and gratitude.
If you are resentful around your past, or what you must do to ensure a peaceful present, you will be blocked from taking the opportunities of today with open arms.
Every man has his faults, flaws and inadequacies.
Whatever yours may be, that is your cross to bear.
If you can accept this as your deal in life, you are ready for the universe to open up to you.
This is not an excuse to complain, nor play the victim, but a chance to accept the hand that life has dealt you.
- Implement Your Personal Dialectic
A dialectic is a model of thought present throughout philosophy which takes a proposition (life is good, for example) and counter proposition naturally occurring from the original proposition (life is suffering) and finds a solution (life is balance) naturally occurring from both propositions.
The propositions are known as the thesis (the original point) and the antithesis (the opposite of that point) and the solution as the synthesis.
Dialectics underpin the structural makeup of Western thought, which therefore underpins your personal psychology, whether you are cognizant of that or not.
In the establishment of your purpose, you can hack this by implementing a personal dialectic specific to your life.
However, you must ensure it is authentic.
You must be certain the thesis and antithesis apply to your life so you can create a positive synthesis.
Here is an example of mine, which also embodies my life purpose:
- Thesis: Life is painful; I cannot cope
- Antithesis: Use intoxicants to cope (intoxicants lead to addiction and more pain)
- Synthesis: Live a life of recovery that focuses on no intoxicants and the mitigation of pain
Yours may be similar to this, or very different.
However, the structure should be the same:
- Thesis: Take the most powerful belief/experience you have about life
- Antithesis: Explain how you’ve coped with that belief
- Synthesis: Explain the solution to both that you live in now
It is okay if this takes you time.
Once established, a personal dialectic is a foundation for your life.
It is in your interest to make sure it is adequate.
Once you do feel comfortable with your personal dialectic, you have implemented an emotionally compelling cause.
- Embody Your Purpose
As a bitter, lost young boy, a common complaint was that there was no one to look up to for me.
I felt no one embodied the way I wanted to live.
As a man, I’ve learned it’s my duty to embody my ideal.
If you’re looking around for someone to copy, you will forever live in someone else’s shadow, not to mention eat away at the integrity of your own internal light.
It is your duty to live out the synthesis of your dialectic and embody what your purpose is.
For me, that entails a life of being positive in recovery, remembering where I’ve come from (my thesis and antithesis) and instead of assuming things won’t work out or that I am not good enough for whatever reason, allow life to decide my fate instead.
Whilst having mentors, influences and people to admire is a great thing, they can never embody your purpose for you.
You must seek to become a shining light.
You do this not in words, but in the way you live your life.
- Channeling Your Purpose
It is now that we can return to the generic areas of establishing purpose that people often confuse for purposes in and of themselves.
Whether you are naturally good at teaching, writing, analyzing data, acting, public speaking, selling, buying, marketing, surveying, or whatever, these things are skills, not purposes.
You should by now have established your purpose in the first four steps.
The fifth step is weighing up your unique purpose against your skill set.
For me, my purpose is in positive recovery from addiction and negative thought patterns about life, and my skill set is writing.
So how do I channel my purpose?
By writing material on Colossal Insights.
Again, mine is a specific example and yours may be very different.
The essence is in implementing your skills to bring your purpose into action in the world.
Implement this over the next few months and allow yourself some time to ensure the purpose you’ve developed through these steps deeply resonates with you.