Together, Finding Your Purpose Is Our Purpose
Epistle 13. Posted on 2019-03-31.
Having a clear sense of purpose is one of the best benefits of living. Anyone with a clear sense of purpose is a stranger to persistent boredom, burnout, emptiness, confusion, and lack of direction and motivation. Instead, the purposeful know where they are going, and why. More directly, those enlightened few know how to evaluate every thought with respect to each purpose, and how to get the most out of life. If you lack purpose and know you are otherwise missing something but don’t know what it is, this article is for you.
First, some basic definitions. Purpose is goal-oriented or end-oriented; notice that an end does not have to be chosen. A duty is an obligation with respect to a purpose.
Consider the following argument:
If someone is a child, that child grows.
But Grady is a child.
Therefore Grady grows.
The argument begins by connecting children with things that grow, then provides an example of this necessary connection, and concludes that a particular child, Grady, also grows, because Grady is a child.
Another way to put the first premise, the necessary connection, is that it is necessary that a child grows, which is to say that growing is part of the essence of a child. Alternatively, one of the purposes of a child is to grow. Every child has several ends or purposes, one of which is to grow. Therefore every child has several purposes. For each child to grow, one of its duties is to eat.
Everything in the cosmos, both living and non-living, has several purposes. Each fire has the purpose to generate heat. There is purpose in being alive, human, a father or a daughter, a friend, a neighbor, an employee, and so much more. As living creatures, we have the power of choice, and may choose additional purposes as goals. Our choices may be reasonable or unreasonable, and each unreasonable choice is a nest of perfidious vipers, which is to say it is treasonous to you.
In philosophical counseling, everyone’s situation is unique, and each discussion of purpose is, likewise, unique. But there are some common trends. Some people question what they are doing with their life, where it is going, and most importantly why. Here, a blend of meaning and purpose occurs, but the main goal is to resolve the question of purpose. We develop definitions of important concepts, connect the concepts in a way that purposes emerge, and then prioritize those purposes, all with analytic logic. Contradictions usually arise with respect to the current approach to life, and so this may also be described as a process of self-discovery that results in self-improvement.
In other cases, there is a specific reason, usually a recent event, which causes a person to question their purpose. Often, these are described as life transitions, in which a person’s identity may be in question. As examples, a career may have ended abruptly, a long-term relationship may have just ended, or a midlife crisis may be happening. Now may be the perfect opportunity to question everything, to do a little soul-searching, to decide how to cope with — and question — what to do next. As before, the main focus is on purpose, though other topics may be involved as well, such as introspection and meaning.
In all cases, formal reason (deductive logic) is used to address questions of purpose, which lends credibility to the results. Methods are not driven by personal experience, whim, or extrapolating to you from studies of others who may or may not represent you. Instead, methods consist only of applying reason to your relevant concepts and analyzing the structure that emerges. And it is reason that allows you to avoid the unreasonable choice of a goal, that nest of perfidious vipers. The surprising part of applying reason to purpose is that most of the goals that people select end up being unreasonable, rather than reasonable.
Having a clear and well-reasoned purpose, in life and in all things, is crucial. It ensures that we make the most out of what little time we have on this earth, that we are efficient with our lives, and it delivers a sense of identity, satisfaction, and accomplishment. The results may differ substantially from person to person, but they are always clear, informative, reasonable, and ethical. As a result, a person who has satisfactorily explored their purposes is motivated to do their duties to fulfill those purposes.
Perceived purposelessness may be short-term and trivial, or long-term and problematic, such as with an existential crisis. When someone is unaware of having problems with purpose, they may generally experience a lack of enthusiasm and motivation when they should be grateful to be alive and driven with purpose. I conjecture that many people become labeled as mentally ill, suffering from depression, and prescribed medication, which is gambling with their brain chemistry to the profitable tune hummed by Big Pharma and healthcare; instead they should merely find purpose with philosophy …and without pills.
How do things stand for you, at the moment? Do you know where you are headed, and why? Are you motivated all day every day to do what needs to be done to get there? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, most likely you introspect on your purposes and have had several Eureka! moments. Otherwise, consider calling and scheduling an appointment, because you may not know what you are missing, and I can help to show you that unknown unknown. One of my favorite ways to start is by asking:
Which one thing do you consider most important, and why?
Together, finding your purpose is our purpose.
Vale (pronounced WAH-lay is Latin for
- ◊ Analytic Logic
- ◊ Contradiction
- ◊ Definitions
- ◊ Existential Crisis
- ◊ Introspection
- ◊ Meaning
- ◊ Midlife Crisis
- ◊ Stoic Therapy Blog