What is important to a person will provide them with the experiences and opportunities to have a sense of purpose.
As an example, a person who is caring and who people feel is approachable is good to have in positions where the client is nervous (college counselors or medical professionals for instance). It can give the employee a sense of purpose to be in a helping profession. Here’s the definition from an online dictionary (Merriam Webster):
1: something set up as an object or end to be attained: intention, resolution, determination
2: a subject under discussion or an action in course of execution
In other words, it is another way to describe a life goal.
What is the reason you want a sense of purpose? What do you think it will get for you and what do you want to do for others?
Is there a defining moment, such as losing a loved one, that spurred you to action to prevent others from the same fate?
As I was thinking about this topic this morning I realised that if someone wants their life to have a sense of purpose, or if they want to make a mark in the world or to feel worthwhile, it will involve helping other people. You can’t be charitable if you’re only giving to yourself.
Having a sense of purpose has tangible benefits too. It can alleviate depression, it can relieve stress, and it can even help you live longer. While studying human behaviour in concentration camps during the Second World War, Viktor Frankl observed that the inmates who were most likely to survive were those who felt they had a goal or purpose. He resolved to be one of those survivors.
Whether someone wants to provide water or food to third world countries, help hurricane victims, or help at the soup kitchen downtown, they are helping other people. Some have their sights set on bigger goals, such as building safer buildings and cars, developing new technology, or researching unknown things in the natural world. There is a purpose for all of these things and again it involves making life better for people.
Even when a purpose is disliked by some, it may be seen to benefit someone. I think of where rivers are dammed up to regulate water flow. Whole towns may be submerged in the process, but the resulting lake provides a new purpose.
Purpose can be truly evil. Typically, this would be carried out by psychopaths or sociopaths. They may see a group as evil and take it upon themselves to wipe them out. So I think we can agree that purpose should be designated for good and consists in doing good.
This lengthy explanation leads into the purpose of this article, How to create sense of purpose. In a word, find something you can do for good and that benefits the world and its people.
- Who to benefit
- How big can you go
- Who can help you or is someone already doing it and you can help them
Think of what touches your heart but also what special skills you may have. If you are just starting, it may be best to start small. Think of one person you can help today with anything from crossing the street, to providing a meal, to smiling and saying hello. See what makes you feel good and expand on that.