When I think about the purpose of life, I can spiral into an existential crisis very easily. After all, the very genesis of human existence is impossible to fully comprehend. The galaxy we inhabit is but a speck in the universe. And it takes a certain level of arrogance to wake up every day as though you are going to have significant enough an impact on the world that you should get out of bed. One needs not look much further for evidence of this than the fact that those, like myself, who go through periods in which they lack this level of arrogance are often diagnosed with the life-threatening illness of Depression.
I know what you’re thinking. “I definitely don’t wake up every morning with a pep talk about my impact on the world”. Yes, our daily morning thoughts may not be as explicit as this affirmation of self-worth. In fact, we may often say the opposite. “My job is pointless”. “My spouse doesn’t appreciate me”. And so on, and so on. That isn’t intended to be reductive, but more an admittance of the fact that there are an infinite number of possible reasons why one might feel as though they are insignificant. Not to be incredibly morbid but the reality is, if we didn’t believe that our very presence on this Earth is worth more than our absence, many more people would succumb to the temptation of prematurely ending their time here.
So we’ve established that we do have a purpose. Without purpose we would just stop living. The realities of daily adult life are far too stressful for anyone to choose to just be alive and paying rent. So what is our purpose? I’ve thought long and hard about this. Even when I don’t want to think about it, it remains an ever-present ideation. I’ve come to the current conclusion that the purpose of life is to live it more abundantly.
We cannot control the basis of our existence. Not a single person on this Earth asked to be here. We didn’t choose to be born. But we can choose to be free. I think the question of “What is the purpose of life?” is to constantly move forward. To progress as a species. My parents cultivated an environment where the epiphanies they had at age 40 and 50, my siblings and I were having at age 20 and 30. And I’ve adopted that same passion and ideology.
I didn’t ask to be here. I also didn’t ask to have a finite existence in this body. So if I can’t control getting here or leaving here (no matter what my Depression may tell me sometimes), I surely will be controlling what I do while I am here. I want my existence to add positively to this world. Some of the things I’ve been through, I don’t want anyone else to ever go through. Other things, I want to make sure others have the opportunity to experience as well. For at least the foreseeable future, the human race will continue to exist. If I can help someone else live a better life, going forward, I’ve fulfilled my purpose. The next question becomes what approach you choose to help someone else.
I’m a psychologist. I’m an activist. I’m a friend. I’m a sister. I’m a daughter. I’m a teacher. I’m a mentor. And so on. Each of those roles offers a different opportunity to fulfill my purpose. Find yours.