Truths and Myths About Purpose

We are all in the constant process of searching for a purpose. “Purpose” is the keyword that made a worldwide career in capitalism! The purpose is supposed to be what gives life meaning. It is one of the key components of the Ikigai philosophy of happiness, and the fundamental aspect of every religion.

But, what is the purpose? Do we really need it in our lives? Is purpose overrated? In this article, we will review a few common truths and myths about purpose. 

  1. We Need To Actively Look For Our Purpose

This can be a truth or a myth, depending on the interpretation. On the one hand, those who have purpose are usually active and vigilant observers. They can appreciate what they have in life. Instead of aiming for the highest goals, they can find sources of purpose all around them, from a professional career, through hobbies, to family life. In that sense, they are proactive. They define their purpose here and now, instead of searching for some source of life satisfaction in events that might happen (or not!) in the distant future. 

On the other hand, though, this statement is a myth. The purpose is not a matter of a search. It is a matter of conscious choice. It is not a concept that we happen to bump into. It is what we decide, or define, for ourselves. 

  1. You Need THE Purpose

The statement that you need one central purpose, or a mission, in your life, is a myth. Rather than relying on one purpose, highly-functioning individuals usually choose a number of smaller goals in different areas of life. They focus on finding the balance between their professional goals, building meaningful relationships, developing their fitness and spirituality, and a range of hobbies, interests, and charity activities. Instead of obsessing about one life mission, you should treat allocating purpose like personal investments. The better balanced you become, the higher your chances of reaching fulfillment in life.

  1. Purpose Prolongs Human Life

It seems that this statement is actually true. Namely, a recent research study by Alimujiang et al. (JAMA Network Open, 2019) showed that elderly people who believe that their life has a purpose, live significantly longer than those who don’t hold such a belief. “Community, achievement, reputation, relationships, spirituality, kindness — these can all feed into any one person’s life purpose. So, there is not one specific definition for any one person.” — says the study’s lead author, Leigh Pearce. 

  1. You Best Start Your Professional Career From Defining Your Purpose

This sounds simple, right? You start by setting your goal and then work hard to get there! However, in fact, this is a myth. Most of those who define their professional goals too early, before becoming experts in their fields, soon discover that what they aim for is not achievable, or not even necessary. And so they drop out. 

Furthermore, the feeling of purpose is much easier to achieve at a certain level of proficiency rather than at the beginning of the professional career. Once you become an expert who can teach and support others, the sense of purpose appears quite naturally in your life. 

  1. It Is Best To Start Every Day From Thinking About Your Purpose

This is quite personal. Some people feel motivated while thinking about their purpose and life goals every morning. However, there are also many people out there who enjoy every day and don’t need to gear up and motivate themselves in the morning. Instead of thinking about purpose, they focus on gratitude and think about the blessings that they have already experienced. And, they are happy!

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So, what is your portfolio of life purposes? Do you find defining your purposes difficult? Do you know any other truths and myths about purpose?