The Myth of Purpose

I frequently hear people say that you need to “find your purpose” and “pursue your passion” in order to be happy in life. These ideas are fraught with problems.

First, passion is an emotion and like all emotions will wax and wane. You will never feel passionately about anything all the time. Believing that any emotion, let alone strong emotions (like passion) can be sustained over long periods is just unrealistic and will lead to disappointment.

Purpose absolutely can be found and sustained. But people talk about purpose as though it were something inherently within you. Like you could do an xray and find someone’s purpose. The reality is that having a “purpose” is a social construct and because of that it isn’t an organic thing that happens to you like puberty. Yet we treat it that way in society.

This is why the “mid life crisis” and “the empty nest” is a thing. People go through their lives waiting for their purpose to be magically revealed to them. They find purpose, but then they change and it’s no longer a fit. They are left feeling lost or robbed because they think some inherent part of them is missing.

Purpose is not organic. We make our purpose for ourselves. As such, it comes from life experiences and grows from the choices we make. It is as fluid as we are. It can change as we move through life. There is nothing written on our soul that dictates what we become.

Instead of pursuing your passion, explore your interests and how those might be developed into a profession. Instead of searching for you purpose, focus on building your ethical foundation. Once you know what you value in life, you will be able to imagine how those values should shape your life; becoming your purpose.

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