The Dreaded Question

What’s My Purpose in Life?

Gallup reports that only 13% of people are engaged in their job.  This means that the great majority of people are not excited for their work.  They aren’t passionate about something they spend close to half of their day doing.    Why is this something to be concerned about?

Imagine doing something that you love.  More importantly, imagine how you act both while and after doing it.  When I start creating meaningful lessons for students, I get excited.  I share my ideas with others around me excitedly and I can see excitement start to build within them.  But, this is only when I am doing passionate work.

What happens when we spend the majority of our time doing things we aren’t passionate about?  Our fuel is drained.  People around us aren’t excited or seemingly very interesting.  We begin to question our importance in the world, especially with the realization that we can easily be replaced at our current jobs.  For me, forced meetings and mandatory curriculum suck the passion out of me.  And I’ve listened enough to other people to know I’m not alone.  So, what can we do to either get back or find the passion in our lives?

Start to Take Back Control of Your Life

We all want to feel important.  A pat on the back, being told good job, or a surprise gift cause us to feel special.  Those are all good things, but they aren’t what drives passion.  The feeling of importance must come from within.  We must answer the question, What causes us to feel important and we have direct influence on?

Achieving goals.

When we make progress we become happier.  The key word is progress.  I could set a goal to lay on a couch all day, but it wouldn’t make me happy.  In fact, it would likely do the opposite.  How do we know what we consider progress?  How do we decide what goals to make?

Using the Fear of Death to Develop and Write a Personal Mission Statement

Watch this Sam Harris video and pay attention to the epiphany he mentions.  Does it resonate with you?

“The one thing people tend to realize at moments like this is that they wasted a lot of time when life was normal…They cared about the wrong things.”

What do you care about?  To help you figure this out, I suggest using the following scenario and questions.

Imagine you are attending your own funeral in three years time.  What descriptions do you want people to use to describe you?  What accomplishments do you want people to be discussing?  Who is attending the funeral?

Each questions focuses on a different value you have.  The first question puts into focus what you want your character to be.  In other words, it helps you identify how you wish to act.  Is it honest? Bold? Funny?  A go-getter type?  A go-with-the-flow type?  The second question puts into focus what impact you’d like to make on the community.  Maybe you want to reduce world hunger.  Maybe you want to coach a youth team.  Maybe you want to start your own business.  The third question puts into focus what relationships you should prioritize.  Maybe that grudge you are holding against your sibling does need to be taken care of.

Use the Ideas to Write a Mission Statement

A mission statement describes how you will act.  It is general guidelines to assess your actions.  It should be vague enough to let life’s spontaneity flow, yet clear enough to know when you should, or should have, said no to a circumstance.  With it in place, you should definitively know what you must apologize for and what you shouldn’t.

Below is my current mission statement.  Like the U.S. Constitution, my mission statement has changed.  But, the main messages have not.  Please share your personal mission statement or any questions you have related to this post in the comments below.

My Mission Statement

I will be a humanitarian.  I will act respectfully and compassionately toward all humans.  The long-term well-being of the community will guide my actions.

I will be an environmentalist.  I will act in ways to respect and develop the environment.  Developing an environment which encourages well-being and attempting to be zero-sum in terms of energy use are my goals.

I will be a scientist.  I will act in ways to empirically explain phenomena.  Continuous questioning, learning, and creating and sharing of experiments is my goal.

I will be inspirational.  I will act passionately.  The enthusiastical sharing of my stories, lessons learned, and adventures in my life is my goal.


Suffer for Others

Take a moment to breathe.  Watch what is happening in this moment.  Savor the peace of this moment.  We are living.  Celebrate it.

Today I heard bad news about my how my students acted toward the sub.  I should say I perceived the news as bad.  I was consumed immediately with thoughts of a battle I must have with my students.  But, I should be happy that I have something worth fighting for.

We forget that caring is the gift.  Without the care, objects are just pieces of matter.   Be happy whenever you care.

But, we must also know what we care about.  What was the cause of this fire?  Why was I suffering when I heard the news?  My immediate thoughts went to what I was going to do on Monday.  This means I was suffering because of the tough work I was going to have to do.  We are all egocentric at times…

I am suffering yet again.  My thoughts are now on the suffering of my sub.  I am conflicted on where my initial focus should have been: the suffering of myself or the suffering of the substitute.  But for now, I am happy that I care about the feelings of my sub.  Even if it was after thinking about myself…

I am curious: How much time do you consider the suffering of others?  This might be an idea to strive to do more of.