Finding Purpose – by Dr Arun Datta
For almost all of us, finding purpose of life is a luxury.
It is because there are other more urgent and immediate tasks. By the time, we realize that there could be a purpose also, of life, we are already in the rat-race. School to university to professions or business and then family, children and other responsibilities.
By God’s grace, if we reach retirement age without any lingering and irritating disease; we forget to do everything except what we did for a living. We minimize our mental vision. The child-like curiosity has been snubbed to pave way for our matured, adult, and serious self. Our lives are spent in catering for our material needs and short term pleasures. The period of retirement or times of compulsory isolation can make us look for purpose.
Sigmund Freud wrote that the purpose of human life is not clear. What men show by behavior is that they want to be; and remain happy. Everything they want is towards this. Happiness, as the purpose of life, seems logical and true. If we examine our own lives, honestly, almost everything we do is towards happiness.
But emotional peppiness cannot be the purpose of life. Watching emotionally charged soap operas or football matches are good entertainments but not the goals of life. Also the feelings of pleasure and gratification do not last. Excessive indulgence leads to anxiety and depression. A rich and meaningful life gives a lasting happiness. That is what guides us towards our purpose.
First and foremost, our purpose should be focused towards our own body, then to our mind and finally to our intellect. Let’s take it further. Keeping our body in the optimum state is in our own hands. Permissible exercising, nutritious food, management of existing health conditions and sleep are the basics.
In pursuit of purpose, we need to find out what truly matters deep in our hearts. What do we consider valuable and worthy. What do we stand for in life? Unlike a feeling of pleasure, what gives us a sense of vitality? Not only happiness; what is it that makes us uncomfortable, sad and even angry? A full life includes a full range of human emotions.
Each one of us has to find our own purpose.
Following are some examples:
Valuable and worthy:
Start reading on any field of knowledge like history, astronomy and literature.
Music: learning an instrument, vocal, listening, appreciating and critiquing.
Sad and angry:
Finding a cause, that means a lot to us. For example, cancer awareness, gender violence, corruption, environment, cruelty towards animals, taking care of people who need help, giving your time. Issues that affect us like security and cleanliness.
We can air our opinions forcefully on social media. Write letters to editors and to authorities; become part of active groups.
Contacting old friends can provide satisfaction. Email, phone or video call are easily available tools today.
Find people with similar challenges. For example losing weight, cutting down on alcohol, doing yoga sessions on common e-platform or developing healthy habits. You can be accountability partners.
Another way of finding your purpose can be: how do you want to be remembered, after you are gone: as one who worked, ate, slept and then died. Or someone who:
- Was knowledgeable about some subject like history, astronomy, music etc.
- Was passionate about animal rights and felt for them.
- Encouraged everyone to fight corruption.
- Visited strangers in the hospitals and exuded positivity.
This list can be long.
Primary goal should be: yourself feeling good; people appreciating and remembering you, is just a way to guide you.
A life without purpose can be meaningless