Finding your purpose in life is a curious thing; you can find it by accident, or by searching for it extensively. Everyone has a different purpose in life, and discovering that purpose is an intricate process, one that can take minutes, months, or even years of life. But once you’ve found your purpose, life has so much more meaning, and everything you do has reason.
But sometimes, your purpose eludes you, though you fervently seek it out. So we’ve compiled a list of five great quotes from inspirational people to help you on the path to finding purpose in your life. Take them, study them, use them, and you will find yourself.
“Find something more important than you are, and dedicate your life to it.”
Philosopher Dan Dennett said this while discussing the secret of happiness. Doing something above and beyond yourself is one of the best ways to find your purpose. The hierarchy of the world is Self, and Others. If you are only helping yourself, though you may have a nicer car and a bigger home, you will never feel fulfilled. Doing something that affects others, your community, your economy, ecology, generation, country, et cetera will give you the satisfaction in life that everyone craves.
“Prestige…warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”
In today’s world, it seems like people work for recognition. We are a self-obsessed people, and we like the gratification of acknowledgment. While being acknowledged for what you do is wonderful and makes you feel like a superhero, working specifically for prestige will not fulfill you. Graham goes on to say: “If you do anything well enough, you’ll make it prestigious.” Finding something that makes you happy is more important than prestige, and will mean more to you in the end.
“Work is what we do by the hour. …Labor, on the other hand, sets its own pace. We may get paid for it, but it’s hard to quantify.”
Dredging away at your awful nine-to-five job, staring at the clock counting the minutes, is work. If you work just for pay, you are not doing what you are meant to do. While it is important to pay the bills, and we know how hard that can be, but not doing something that makes you happy, you are doing work. There is a reason something is called a “labor of love.” Labor is something you can work at, but also enjoy. With labor, you lose track of time and forget yourself in the task. Do something that is a labor for you, that fulfills you.
“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.”
Imagine reading a book with one character, who has to learn one lesson, and that’s the whole book. There is no intricacy, and only one simple lesson to get from the book. Not only would that be boring, it would not enrich your experience. Each person needs something different from life. That could be to help others as a doctor, to build homes, or to make clothing. Pick something that will improve your life and your experience as a human being. Something that no one else can do.
“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
In his book Tuesdays With Morrie, Albom perfectly sums up the fundamental way to find your purpose in life. People always have regrets on their deathbeds of not doing what they were meant to do. Knowing that this can be the case, make sure you spend time with the people who matter and doing things that matter. Success isn’t what you think it is: success is being happy with who you are and what you do.
These quotes attack what we’ve been taught is our purpose in life: Work hard, make money, spend money. If you are only doing these things, you will never truly be happy. Material goals are not the answer. Finding your purpose in life takes a step outside the box.