We crave purpose. This need for purpose is a core trait of human beings.
Having purpose shifts our focus off of ourselves, our problems, and our anxieties. It gives us a reprieve from boredom and defines our identity.
The need for purpose is so strong that we look for any way to fulfill it—and there is no shortage of ways to do so.
It used to be that our purpose was what we contributed to our community. Hunters, gatherers, caregivers, healers, cooks, protectors, storytellers, and entertainers all had a purpose in their community; they had a way to contribute to the overall good.
Now most of us have jobs just to pay the bills. We don’t have the luxury of purpose in our careers or the energy to seek fulfillment in our free time. The need for purpose remains so how do we fill it?
We become busy. So busy—so feverishly active—that we think we’re being purposeful, yet we have little to show for all that time spent being busy.
We become distracted. Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, gossip, drama, other people’s problems…as long as we’re focused elsewhere we don’t feel our dissatisfaction.
We become consumers. The Nordstrom sale, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Target clearance. You can ride that temporary high from one sale to the next.
We become fans. My team will win the game. My politician will win the election. My favorite actor/band/movie will win the award. As long as we have something external to root for, we don’t have to champion ourselves.
When we don’t have a purpose we find one, even when it’s sold to us by clever marketing.
My hope is that you can honestly and equitably recognize how you’re being distracted from your true desires, when you’re numbing the feelings you don’t want to face, and why you’re defending the status quo. I want you to consciously choose how you’re spending your resources—time, money, attention, and energy—and create space in your life for stillness.
You don’t have to know what your purpose is. You do have to remove the interference so you can feel when you are pulled towards it.