Finding the Purpose of Your Life

We were in the Lake District in north England teaching a course at a Buddhist center. Ed was chatting with a nun called Avis. He was somewhat joking when he said to her, “Someday we will all meet up in heaven together.” Avis replied, ”Yes, and we’ll look at each other and say, what was that all about?!

What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? Is there any reason for it all? What am I doing here? Who am I?

These are just a few of the ageless and endless questions that we all get to ask ourselves at some time in our lives. And these are some of the answers we come up with: I am here to realize my full potential; My purpose is to be happy and make others happy; The reason for life is to love unconditionally, and so on.

Then there is the purpose to get more. We were watching Other People’s Money, a Danny DeVito movie, where he is talking about life and says, “Life is a game and whoever has the most at the end wins!”

It seems like most answers about why we are here focus in on material wealth and abundance, success, good health, happiness, love, family, friendship, and having fun. Very few people consider that the purpose of life is to suffer, or to be unhappy.

Yet somehow it seems much easier to focus on what is wrong, while we ignore or take for granted what is right. We moan and groan and complain endlessly but forget to listen to a wild bird song or to pay attention to a child’s story.

In the eastern traditions it is considered that our birthright is to have inner happiness regardless of circumstances; the Dalai Lama often teaches how we are all really alike as we all want to be happy. But if inner happiness is our real purpose, what are we doing about it now? Have we made friends with ourselves? How much time do we spend with family and friends? Have we said “I love you” recently?

There are often moments in our lives that make us stop and re-evaluate our priorities, moments such as illness, the death of a loved one, or even the loss of our job. In these times, we see how fragile and precious life is, and how easily it slips past us while we are doing other things. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Our friend Ali recently said to us that she was “trying not to get in the way of my life, so I do my best to just sit back and let things happen more naturally without trying to control everything.” For we do so easily get in the way by imposing our desires, hidden agendas, ambitions, and ideas of what is right or wrong. When we can stop, step back, or just be present, we have the chance to let go of what could be or might be, and instead to deeply appreciate what is, just as it is.

Next: If I Had My Life to Live Over

Then we have the freedom to love, to be happy, to have fun. Just as 85 year-old Nadine Stair did when she wrote her famous poem:

If I Had My Life To Live Over

I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.

I’d relax, I would limber up.

I would be sillier than I have been this trip.

I would take fewer things seriously.

I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.

I would eat more ice cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles,

but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live

sensibly and sanely hour after hour,

day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments,

And if I had it to do over again,

I’d have more of them.

In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.

Just moments, one after another,

instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere

without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat

and a parachute.

If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,

I would start barefoot earlier in the spring

and stay that way later in the fall.

I would go to more dances.

I would ride more merry-go-rounds.

I would pick more daisies.

What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Do comment below.

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81 comments

Stella Elise
Stella Elise5 years ago

wow

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Sai Krishna
Krish Away6 years ago

simple.. find work life balance

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Kirsten B.
Past Member 6 years ago

Great piece.

Realizing that life and love of life are paramount is, surprisingly, very difficult. But the beauty and wonder of it all is penetrating through my fuzzy mind block more and more every day.

Right now, I'm combining spending more time being aware of the miracles of nature and of the human body while getting into some sort of shape to walk a marathon next June. Getting lost in nature and just feeling and being makes the harder kilometers just slip by so that each outing is an adventure rather than a chore.

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Bonnie M.
Bonnie M6 years ago

In the end, all that we ever were fits in a box with nothing left behind but memories for those who care to remember. Listen to your heart, reach out to someone with gentleness and care.
Today is what matters- no one knows what tomorrow brings.

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Loo Samantha
Loo sam6 years ago

noted

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Roxana C.
Roxana Cortijo6 years ago

Thanks.

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Shirley E.
Shirley E6 years ago

I wouldn't want to see my life disappear in moore merry-g-round rides, dances nad daisy pickings. I'd like to be able to motivate myself to do stuff that counts and makes a difference to someone other than me.

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Rajnish Singh
Rajnish Singh6 years ago

everyone should have purpose of life.

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Rajnish Singh
Rajnish Singh6 years ago

everyone should have purpose of life.

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Ioney W.
Ioney W6 years ago

Enjoy life, we only have 1***

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