The Sum of All Things — How to Find & Use Your True Purpose

A Meditation on how to Thrive in the Modern World

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

The American writer and Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs”

Do you think when Frederick penned those words he was anticipating that by 2020 there would be 50 billion connected devices globally? Very probably not, and certainly not as vehicles for allowing our deep gladness to meet the world’s needs, but Wow, think of the potential?

A bigger more connected world?

Undoubtedly, but there’s a caveat with that. We live in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world on one level, but at another more basic and visceral level it is still primarily a world of strangers.

A world in which we can be more responsive to the plight of an adorable dog than the fate of our fellow human beings — And in such a world I believe kindness counts for a great deal.

Yet, how many of us feel so time poor that acts of kindness, however simple, can seem an almost impossibly big ask?

Pablo Picasso reminds us that, “The meaning of life is to find your gift — The purpose of life is to give it away” — Well…

Welcome to the Anthropocene

We live in an age of great acceleration. The past 60 years have seen the most profound transformation in the human relationship with the natural world.

Whilst over the past 10 years, everything has just got faster and faster — transport, communication, the exchange of ideas, opinions & news, and economic change, to name just a few things.

In a previous piece for Thrive Global I wrote about the 3 Mistakes we can make as Adults, and one of those is not giving as much as we can.

Nonetheless, for many of us however pro-social we think we are, its hard to give stuff away when we’re so busy holding on and protecting what we think is ours, because we feel threatened by the constant motion and commotion that envelopes us 24/7.

And as well as being hard, life can also be relentless and unforgiving, which all conspires to make us become even more inward looking and introspective than we would otherwise wish.

Shakespeare’s character Macbeth describes living as, “Life’s fitful fever…”(Macbeth Act 3, Scene 2).

So, we must learn to endure and remember as the character Nina puts it in Anton Chekov’s play, ‘The Seagull’, “The important thing is not fame, or glory, not what I used to dream about, but learning how to endure”

In other words having stamina and a salutory point perhaps for the ‘Selfie Generation’ to take on board?

The Great Universal

I suppose I am one whom Aristotle might have described an active seeker after meaning — & I understand that on one level life can seem like a random sequence of accidental events, desires and actions.

But I also understand that we are all different. Each of us can see things in radically different ways, colours, textures, and shapes — I’m afraid though that doesn’t mean we can all be Van Gough!

For me what gives life true meaning & worth is having a clear and defining purpose — And to Thrive we must undoubtedly have the stamina to endure — but what really endures is love and what ignites and makes love burn, is passion.

Rest in Reason, move in Passion

So, I will 1stly locate my purpose where I feel it most, and 2ndly I will add passion and ensure that I align it to the sum of my purpose — To make the Sum of All Things— Because it will be passion and compassion that moves, articulates and translates my purpose into palpable truths and purposeful actions.

And the answer to the sum

What makes life truly worth living? I believe it’s Acts of Kindness — Acts of Compassion, to oneself and to others, because quite simply —

The purpose of life is not just to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well”

Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness. He can be contacted at and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd

You might also like...

Civic Engagement and Purpose//

How to Volunteer: One Microstep at a Time

by Diane Quest

A Responsible Freedom

by Liz Bapasola

The Secret Sauce of Kindness – Connection

by David Fryburg, MD
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.