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What’s the Purpose of Life ?

There are countless ways we could answer this question, aren’t there?

Before we do that though, firstly let’s look at what’s assumed by the question itself.

Consider “when was the last time you drove your sister’s car?”, the question assumes:

  1. You have a sister.
  2. Your sister owns a car.
  3. You drove it.
  4. You drove it on multiple occasions.

You get the point, don’t you? Ok, so I just wanted to first acknowledge the underlying assumptions or presuppositions.

What’s the purpose of life?

The question presupposes there is a purpose, doesn’t it? And that there is only one at that (usage of ‘the’ vs ‘a’). And that life is a thing, rather than an ever-evolving experience of living. In NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), when we turn a verb (something we do) into a noun (something we have) it’s referred to as a nominalisation, which can often contribute to us feeling stuck.

I first began asking myself ‘What’s the purpose of life?’, at the ripe age of 10. My adolescent mind confused purpose with outcome and concluded that the purpose of life was death. Fair enough – all life eventually ends in death, doesn’t it? It’s part of its cycle.

Having been interested in efficiency for as long as I can recall, I somehow convinced myself that I would be even more successful if I reached death quicker… Hence my first suicide attempt at age 12 when I jumped out of my 2nd story bedroom window. Rather than receive accolades I was reprimanded by my parents, though I thought it was just because I didn’t succeed in achieving my goal.

As I matured I still struggled with the question ‘What’s the purpose of life?’ One of my partners, in an attempt to soothe me amidst my existential crises would tell me that there was no purpose to life. At a moment in which I was looking for direction and answers, I found this to be an extremely bitter pill to swallow.

“What do you mean there’s no purpose?” It felt cruel and unfair that I would have to endure life without an explicit reason for being here. I needed something to hold on to in order to justify daily torture of existing – a reason not to kill myself… a reason to live.

“Life is meaningless. You make up the meaning. You create your purpose.”

“But how?”

I didn’t know where to begin. There were so many things I was interested in and passionate about… which one do I pick? It was an ongoing internal battle that left my mind deeply conflicted. And that was part of the problem: I was asking my head-brain the question my heart-brain knew the answer to.

(continued in part 2 – How to Find Your Purpose in Life)

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If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

~ Buddha

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What’s the Purpose of Life ?

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