January 13, 2016

How We Got this “Life Purpose” Concept All Wrong.

Sean Brown/Unsplash

I will be the first to admit that for a lot of my life I have been an overachiever.

Of course, it has never felt like that.

In actual fact it has always felt like I have been an under-achiever, which is why it has been so easy for me to perpetuate the overachieving, neurotic cycle of trying to achieve more (because I never feel like I have done enough).

But lately, this overachiever habit has been falling away, leaving in its wake the question, What if there is actually nothing concrete we are supposed to achieve in this life?

This is a very hard pill to swallow.

It leaves things open and uncertain. Not a comfortable position to be in.

Lately, there are so many people telling us we are “supposed” to have a life purpose, and that actually when we zero in on this life purpose we will be happy, or at least happier than we are now.

The trouble I see with this, is that most of us have come to equate life purpose with some form of material success.

All the inspirational stories we hear about people finding their life purpose end with the person earning a million dollars, publishing a book or being a guest on Oprah.

I am starting to think we have this a** backwards.

We aren’t here to rise to the top and stay there.

Life purpose doesn’t look like getting life right and then just coasting along.

I think two better words to describe what we are doing here in human form would be “life lessons.”

We are here to have the ups and downs.

We are here to have the successes and then the failures and then the successes again.

There are so many ways we can be hard on ourselves and be sure we are messing up. The concept of life purpose is supposed to help give meaning to our lives, not be another place we struggle and condemn ourselves.

What if you knew that every choice you made today was your life purpose?

What if you knew that every breath, every word, every thought was just part of a big chain of life lessons that were unfolding in perfection?

Would this help you relax into the inevitable life lessons that are occurring without pause all the time?

I feel sad when I see this concept of life purpose become a stress for people. I feel sad to see how stressful this concept of life purpose has been for myself, much of the time.

I often feel like I need to race to the finish line, because when I get to the finish line everything is going to feel better.

It feels like I am being dropped to the bottom of the ocean without an oxygen tank when I am reminded that there is no finish line.

And then I take a breath, and remember there is oxygen right here, too. I am alive now. I can feel pleasure now. I am growing, evolving, changing, helping, learning and loving now. I don’t need a finish line.

No one needs a finish line.

Life is happening now.

Life lessons and life purpose are happening all the time, in all the micro decisions we make every moment, in how to relate to our lives in all their messy glory.

This is why we are here.


Relephant Read:

An Open Letter to Those Who are Seeking Their Life Purpose.


Author: Ruth Lera

Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Sean Brown/Unsplash


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