The Purposes of your Life, Your Life Missions
December 5, 2007
A purpose is different than meaning. Meaning asks the question, "Why are you here?" Purpose asks the question, "What are you going to do now that you are already here? What is your intention?"
If the meaning of life is happiness, then our missions in life, our life purposes, must all involve one primary goal: to be happier and to help others be happier.
Your Birthright Purposes
A birthright purpose is a purpose for your life that doesn't require you to do anything except exist.
You Are Supposed to Exist
The fact that exist means that you have a purpose. Your first purpose is to be alive. For some reason, whether it be Divine intervention or cosmic randomness, you are here because the cosmos brought you into being. Allow yourself to find happiness in knowing that you are supposed to be here.
You Are a Member of the Human Species
No matter where you go, what you do, or what you believe, you are always a member of the human species.
"Big deal" you say, but imagine you are stranded on an island completely by yourself. How long do you think you would go before you started longing for another human? Humans need other humans for happiness. It is built into us as an evolutionary survival tool. One of your purposes for being a part of the human species is help other humans have a little happiness by simply being there as company.
You Are a Member of Your Family Tree
You have a purpose of extending your family tree. (This does not mean that you should have children.) By just be being born, you have added a new branch to your family tree. Biologically, this is a way to continue the species (no new branches on the family tree means that the human race will start to die off), but there is also an emotional purpose to this.
For humans, family has an emotional bond that surpasses all others. Whether or not you realize it, you have family who loves you and wants you to be here. (Maybe not every family member fits this descriptions, but many of your family members do.) Parents love their children. Grandparents love their grandkids. Great-great-great-great-grandparents love their great-great-great-great-grandchildren even if they never get to meet them. Aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and sisters also develop deep love for each other. Your existence serves the purpose of creating more loving bonds within your family tree, so just by existing, you have contributed to your family's happiness.
Your Surprise Purposes
A surprise purpose is a purpose you didn't know you were going to have, but just by chance or luck or destiny it happens. You didn't know that you were going to have the children that you have, but now one of your purposes is to be the parent of these beautiful babies and future generations. You didn't know that you were going to marry your spouse when you bumped into him/her at the deli, and now you are living life together. You didn't know that you were going to stumble onto the cure for cancer, but you did, and many lives will be saved because of it. Surprise purposes can come in many forms: a blessing that helps you or others, an obstacle that you must overcome, a tragedy, a lesson that you can teach, a duty, companionship, etc. A surprise purpose is an unexpected gift, and we must be humble enough to recognize its benefits (even if it seems to lack benefits), so we can ultimately gain happiness from it.
Your Chosen Purposes / Your Life Missions
Your chosen purpose is a purpose you get to have control over. You can plan for it. You work for it. And when you succeed at it, you feel the greatest sense of pride.
Most chosen purposes stem out of surprise purposes. For example, if your surprise purpose is to be the parent of a child that you did not plan to have, you may decide to make your chosen purpose to develop your parenting skills, so you can give that child the best upbringing possible.
Ultimately, your life missions will revolve around things that you enjoy, things that make you happy. If you decide that you wish to help starving children around the world, this is because helping these children will make you happy. In the same way, if you decide that you do not wish to jump out of an airplane at 10,000 ft., this is because the idea of sky diving does not make you happy. Your sense of happiness dictates which life missions you will choose.
The Ultimate Life Purpose: Ultimate Happiness
If the meaning of life is to experience happiness, then the ultimate life purpose is to find ultimate happiness, to actively seek long-term happiness that acts as the foundation for your thoughts. Maybe that may require you to practice mindfulness or set and strives for goals. Maybe you need to overcome a painful past, realize your self-worth, and figure out what you really want in life. Maybe you just need to recognize the happiness that you already have. Every person has a different path, so you must actively seek ways to find your own ultimate happiness.
The first step is to define your idea of ultimate happiness. What is it that would truly make you happy throughout your life? When asking yourself this question, it is important to not limit yourself. Remember, you already have happiness, and you already possess the ability to have even greater happiness. You just need to trust yourself and try.