Is Having A “Life Purpose” Overrated?

Up until yesterday, I fully believed that each and everyone of us had a purpose in life. But I’m just not so sure anymore. Yes, having a purpose serves as a huge motivator for us to take action and do what we need to do, but is it really necessary? For so long we’ve been brought up to believe that we must “be someone” in life. From when we were little, the idea of “What are you going to be when you grow up?” was instilled in us, causing us to seek an identity just in order to meet these expectations placed on us by parents and society. And worse, if we did not find our passion or purpose, we were looked down upon and sometimes left behind by peers that were on a more progressive path than we were. But if everything in this life is subjective, perhaps so too is this idea of having a “life purpose.”

I was listening to a talk with one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Mooji. This older retired gentleman, maybe in his late 50’s, was called up on stage and was describing his current distress in life, as he didn’t know what his purpose was anymore. Everyone he knew was asking him “So what are you gonna do next?”…To which he replied, “I’m just gonna be.” And although this man was certain that he just wanted to practice living life moment to moment, he couldn’t help but be affected by the opinion’s of other’s. When Mooji heard this gentlemen’s pain over his life purpose dilemma, he simply replied “Why do you have to have a purpose?” It was there where it hit me, “Well, why do we have to have a purpose!?” We put so much pressure on ourselves with finding this life purpose, that we lose sight of what life is all about, experiencing each waking moment for what it is, a precious gift in time. We become so overwhelmed with what everyone else is doing and therefore feel as though we are somehow lacking or wrongly wired because we haven’t found “our thing” yet. Our self-worth is no longer about who we are internally, but is completely placed on external circumstances. We become unhappy with our current situations because we believe it’s not our purpose, and we won’t be happy until we find that purpose, so in the mean time “life sucks”.

We Iive in a “If” “then” society. If I get this job, then I will feel fulfilled. If I get married, then I will be satisfied. If I have a family, then I will be fulfilled. If I find my purpose, then I will be forever happy. What happened to just being happy with what we have now? Why do we feel we are always lacking something and could be more content if we just had that one thing? Because honestly, after we get that one thing, we’ll just want the next thing, right? Our world is fucked, and it’s gotten to our heads. This lacking that we all feel has become a HUGE money making industry with tons of courses, seminars, products and programs promising that it will help you find what you’re looking for. 

But what if our purpose is ever-changing? What if we could minimize this grandiose expectation for our lives and concentrate on what are purpose is for just that day? Wouldn’t our moments be more precious? Wouldn’t our experiences be enriched if our attention was placed on making our day the best ever. And perhaps by living this way, day by day, we would find more of what we love.

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