“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
The purpose for your life is to experience the wholeness of who you really are.
Many people believe their purpose in life is to find happiness. This might be true if you were living in a Utopian society, but I don’t believe happiness is the sole purpose for life but one part of it.
If happiness is our primary aim, why are so many people unfulfilled when there are more opportunities than ever?
People are living longer with better access to health services and cleaner food. We are more connected to one another through social media, yet some might argue this is the cause of unhappiness.
Nevertheless, our lives are better and yet unhappiness and disappointment is still apparent because whilst living conditions are better, people’s central needs are not being satisfied.
Certainly, I appreciate why people are unhappy; they have financial and family matters and relationship, career, societal and environmental problems. However, if you tie your happiness to having your external needs fulfilled all the time, happiness will elude you.
So, if happiness is not the main aim of life what is?
I contend the purpose of life is to experience the extent of your being. This means life will not always go according to plan and there will be times you will experience heartache, pain and disappointment.
Though it’s worth knowing this is not the end of the road, nor does it underscore how the rest of your life will unfold. It is a tiny blip in your entire journey because just around the corner something could change the course of your destiny forever.
Author and psychotherapist David Richo writes in The Five Things We Cannot Change: And the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them: “In the human realm there is said to be just the right mix of suffering and joy for us to awaken, to become enlightened. In other words, the givens of life help provide us with the perfect, awakening blend of experiences.”
“Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.” — Jim Rohn
If you compare your life as taking a road trip from one state to another, it is natural there will be times when the trip will not go as planned. You may get a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere or develop a mechanical problem that requires immediate repair. This doesn’t mean the journey is over, only you must find other arrangements to get to your destination.
Life functions in the same respect insofar as when everything is smooth sailing, you might presume life will continue down the same path. However, when an unpleasant event arises, you are taken aback how things could turn so quickly.
But as you know, life can change at the drop of a hat and this is not a sign your life is not unfolding as it should.
This wonderful experience called life is an amazing journey intended to help you discover who you really are.
I realise not everyone holds a spiritual perspective of life, though many sages and enlightened masters have proposed that the purpose of life is for divinity to experience itself through you.
In other words, the universe cannot experience itself in physical form, so it does so through physical form and matter. Knowing that, you will face a variety of experiences intended to awaken your humanity, some of which may test you while others will inspire you.
This is part of a greater plan for your life and I’m not talking about destiny nor even religious precepts. The choices you make compound over time so you will either experience pain or pleasure.
Consider author Victor J. Strecher’s perspective in Life on Purpose: How Living for What Matters Most Changes Everything where he explains the difference between embracing a hedonic or a eudaimonic aspiration: “Those who attained hedonic aspirations, however, reported greater anxiety and physical symptoms of poor health, whereas those attaining eudaimonic aspirations reported greater life satisfaction, self-esteem, and positive feelings.”
“Every choice before you represents the universe inviting you to remember who you are and what you want.” — Alan Cohen
Some people become enslaved to their emotional pain and are unable to navigate their way out, despite their best effort. Similarly, others are obsessed with pleasure and may lead a hedonistic life which is not sustainable.
Neither are right nor wrong, but doing the best they can with their level of awareness. As you upgrade your level of awareness the more informed choices you make.
Pain and disappointment are not indicators of living an imperfect life. I would argue it denotes spiritual progress as long as the individual continues to grow and evolve from their experiences.
“Everything changes and ends. Things do not always go according to plan. Life is not always fair. Pain is part of life. People are not loving and loyal all the time,” explains David Richo.
Life is difficult, and no one has a true idea of their primary motives. I say that in the best possible way. You are making up life as you go along, hoping for the best and trusting the next chapter will unfold according to your choices.
The more informed and conscious you are, the better the outcome of your life.
To experience the fullness of who you really are, embrace every experience and discover the lessons contained within those experiences. Learn and grow from them while you evolve.
When you look back on your life, you will realise that every experience was essential to shape your character into the person you are today.
David Richo says: “The givens of life are gifts because they are the ingredients of character, depth, and compassion.” These are the values we must cultivate in our life foremost if we wish to live fully.
Through my studies of ageing populations over the last decade, I’ve observed those who faced immense difficulties in their life will lead long and robust lives. Perhaps it is because they grow resilient in the face of their struggles or as the adage goes: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
So welcome every experience and see it as the entirety of your growth and development.
When the time comes to reflect on your life, you will realise that every experience was perfectly orchestrated by you so that your evolution is complete.
Originally published at medium.com