Living Your Life Purpose Education / Entrepreneurship / Personal / Productivity / Spirituality

“It’s messing people up, this social pressure to ‘find your passion’ and ‘know what it is you want to do’. It’s perfectly fine to just live your moments fully, and marvel as many small and large passions, many small and large purposes enter and leave your life. For many people there is no realization, no bliss to follow, no discovery of your life’s purpose. This isn’t sad, it’s just the way things are. Stop trying to find the forest and just enjoy the trees.” — Sally Coulter

I’ve spent much of my life searching for my purpose, calling, or how I can best make a positive difference in the world. Lately, I’ve been experiencing this purpose come into form more through the small things that make me feel alive in each moment: a little act of kindness here, picking up an old hobby there, a few breaths to appreciate all the beautiful things in my life right now, expressing gratitude to someone who’s inspired me, or giving a gift to someone who could use it. These things make me feel good inside, connected, and alive.

Following these little desires also keeps me in the flow, so that when bigger passions do come up, I’m more ready to take action.

Sometimes, my passions are short-lived, like last week when I wrote a computer game with my kids after four years of not touching code – it was energizing, and a fun way to connect and learn together. Some passions last for years, and others come and go, resurfacing at random times, like the music I sometimes feel inspired to write in between weeks or months of not playing. What’s important to me is that I keep the flow of inspiration and passion open, so that I can move with my desires, rather than against them.

Maybe there is still some big, grand thing I will do to make the world a better place. If so, I hope I’ll recognize that calling when it comes. But I wonder if perhaps the big difference I will make will come through a culmination of all the little ways I express and give of myself in the world along the way. I have to start with something. Why not start now?

How are you living your purpose today?


Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, traveler, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in every moment while inspiring others to do the same.


Comments

  1. Being in your company as you’ve been experiencing this enhanced state of connectedness has been such a pleasure, and I love this blogpost. Just like art, our lives are such a creative process, and the little details make all the difference! It’s really fun to practice feeling into the flow of where my intuition is guiding me in each present moment. I like the sense of awareness and gratification I get from expressing and living from that perspective, which feels so fresh and exciting, and I know I can trust this process to continue unfolding in meaningful ways all throughout my life. It’s the many discoveries, purposes, and passions along the way that make life such a deeply rich experience, which I enjoy savoring as much as possible.

  2. Personally, this is all very “new agey.” A person’s purpose with regard to earning a living has to do with focusing on one’s talents and strong points.

    With regard to the larger question of the meaning of one’s existence, one of two things must be true. There is nothing after death. Or there is an afterlife. The overwhelming majority of human beings, above all the best and wisest of them, including every major religion, affirm an afterlife, and also affirm that the quality of the afterlife depends on the essential tendencies and orientation of the being in this life. There are all kinds of levels of existence. The afterlife can be infernal, paradisal, or simply another round of some non-central existence, akin to that of animals and plants, with a consequent loss of personal identity, which pertains to a central being. The human being is the only being on this earth that can anticipate death and can conceive of existence as a whole, in its totality. Above all man is able to be a “valid interlocutor” for Divine or metacosmic reality. Hence the existence of revealed religions. This faculty of man that can conceive of transcendent reality is what distinguishes him from all other beings. It is the prerogative of being “made in the image of God.” To keep this centrality after death is to “save one’s soul.” That is the purpose of life and of authentic religions.

    The Buddhist say that human life is hard to obtain. Christ said that most enter by the wide gate to “outer darkness”, while a minority enter the narrow gate. The idea behind this symbolism is found in every single religion. Most men today think solely in terms of this very transient life, and not in terms of the inevitable afterlife. Hence they go by the wide gate–they are not oriented properly and have abused or ignored their centrality, its prerogatives and responsibilities.

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Mark. In my experience, earning a living can feel boring and meaningless if I’m disregarding what my heart longs to do, even when it utilizes my “talents and strong points”. So I think it’s important to look at the big picture in order to maintain a sense of “wholeness”, even though it may be helpful to compartmentalize work and life at times.

      Personally, I find the question of an afterlife largely irrelevant to how I live my life now. I know what actions and thoughts bring to me a place of peace, wholeness, goodness, inspiration, connection, love, etc. That’s how I want to live my life, not because I believe it will qualify me for some eternal reward, but because it feels good and right, every step or the way.

      If qualifying for a pleasant afterlife requires living outside of alignment with what feels good and right to me, then I would need some pretty convincing evidence explaining how and why before I’d consider it. But just as most religions teach a form of afterlife, most also teach that kindness and love are what quality one for the best of it. So, my actions, nor my afterlife status (should one exist) shouldn’t be affected by my belief or lack thereof, in an afterlife. I live by the same principles either way. That said, I feel that I do so with more purity and authenticity without a firm belief in the afterlife, because my motives are not tainted with fears of not making it, or with pushing myself out of an unhealthy sense of duty. It’s purely about the love and kindness. The more I let go of the former (fear/duty/etc), the more I feel that love is all there is, and all there needs to be. Yeah, new-agey. But that’s my experience. :)

  3. I don’t think you’ve really grasped what Mark wrote. You’re not going nearly deep enough, and you’re definitely missing what you term the “big picture.” The bigger picture is exactly what Mark is talking about. Any human, or for that matter any animal, wants to be happy and peaceful. The question is, in terms of what?

    Your thinking is still tinged by your former Mormon moralism, which you are escaping from (and who could blame you, given what Mormonism really is and really isn’t). AT any rate, when you have five seconds left to live, you’ll find out if your “experience” will be of any use to you. It’s as if you were trying to be happy in a dream, and someone in the dream was telling you the dream isn’t all there is to reality, and that soon you would “die” in the sense that the dream would come to an end, and that you were telling him that you aren’t interested in what he called “waking up.” Your “experience” is telling you that you just want to live in terms of your dream being the only reality that one has to take into account.

    I think you’ll find that you were wrong and that Lao-Tze, Buddha, Jesus, and a host of others were right and a whole lot wiser and more deeply compassionate than you seem to be capable of grasping at this stage.

    With best wishes.

    • I appreciate you trying to help me see your point of view. I do think it’s possible that there is more to come after this life, but how can it be verified that Mark’s (or anyone’s) big picture interpretation of the afterlife is accurate? As he mentioned, the world’s religions disagree on the nature of the afterlife. And what can any of them prove about it outside of the individual’s own experience? Without the ability to verify here, what is to come there, does it not make sense then, to live well while in the dream state (life), as open and awake as we’re able to whatever is to come? What good does it do to speculate about what awaits after we awake (die) and to try to convince others that our experience of it is more valid than someone else’s?

  4. I do see your point of view, Brandon. I don’t see where Mark wrote that the major religions disagree. On the contrary, he said they all agree that there is an afterlife. Of course the symbolism and perspectives differ, but not the essential point.

    By “verify” you evidently mean “experience”. So you are an “empiricist”–essentially skeptical of any beyond the phenomenal world of nature, or at least indifferent to it. You are just interested in this life.

    I would just point out that your point of view is very modern, and that traditionally, the best of men, the saints and sages, were interested first and foremost in “the one thing needful.” In other words, from your point of view, the Buddha, Christ, Lao-Tze, and all others like them over the last few millennia were wasting their time and were just spinning their speculative wheels, dupes of their illusions, when they could have been enjoying life and being “more aware and open.” Spiritual certitude and spiritual knowledge do not exist because you haven’t “experienced” it.

    Let’s just leave it there. There’s no point in continuing, since we have very different perspectives on the meaning and purpose of life. I see that Mark must have felt the same way, since he hasn’t replied to your post.

    • I’m happy to leave you with your point of view, but do want to clarify that I don’t think Buddha, Jesus, and Lao-Tze were wasting their time. Quite the opposite. However, I think the religions later built around their teachings don’t always reflect the core of what they taught. I see kindness, acceptance, non-attachment, and love as common threads in their teachings, but not the afterlife. Buddha and Lao-Tze in particular had very little (if anything) to say concerning it. And many Christian teachings about the afterlife either do not come from Jesus himself, or they are interpreted literally and/or embellished, when it’s very possible he could have been speaking symbolically, as he often did.

      You’ve implied that I should believe in an afterlife, but you haven’t specified what form you think I should believe in it, or in what way this belief would positively affect my life now or later, or how I can know that any of what you say is true. So I’m unclear exactly what point you are trying to make.

    • I’m enjoying this discussion. I’m not sure about Lao-Tze and Jesus, but what Brandon has said sounds very compatible with Buddhist practice to me. The small things in life he talks about finding purpose in – acts of kindness, being with his breath, acts of kindness, feeling gratitude – are all considered good kamma in Buddhism. And while the Buddha did talk about beings suffering in an endless round of rebirth, his path for escaping from that certainly included dwelling happily in the present moment and letting go of excessive preoccupation about things like “what’s going to happen to me after I die?”.

  5. I have to sympathize with Mark’s and Joseph’s attempts at explanation.

    Brandon says,

    “However, I think the religions later built around their teachings don’t always reflect the core of what they taught. I see kindness, acceptance, non-attachment, and love as common threads in their teachings, but not the afterlife.”

    It is impressive that Brandon has pierced to the core of religions, while their authorities over the last thousand years were deficient in this insight.

    If the core of Christianity and Islam is not the salvation of the soul in view of keeping its essential immortality, then what is it? The entire purpose of these religions is the soul’s salvation. This is so obvious it is amazing that one has to point it out or belabor the fact.

    What are the supreme commandments in Christianity? The love of God above all things and with all one’s being, and in function of this–not in atheistic-humanistic-new age isolation from this–the love of neighbor as oneself. Why is religion self-evident? Because relative reality owes its existence to absolute Reality (“in Him we live and we move and we have our being:), and because this Divine Reality is the sumum bonum, the supreme Good.

    Religions can’t be identified with moral systems. They don’t just teach morality, which is one means or condition among others for an end that transcends the transient earthly life. Essentially they teach the profound nature of things. This can only taught to human, not to animals. But too many humans nowadays are not authentically or fully human–as should be obvious when you see what state the world is in. Too many people today are mediocre epicureans at bottom. Of course, pride forbids admitting it or facing it.

    As for Buddhism, its perspective radically differs from the Monotheisms, but there is at its basis the same aspiration towards the transcendent:

    “There is, O monks, a state where there is neither earth, nor water, nor heat, nor air; neither infinity of space nor infinity of consciousness, nor nothingness, nor perception nor non-perception; neither this world nor that world, neither sun nor moon. It is the uncreate. That O monks, I term neither coming nor going nor standing; neither death nor birth. It is without stability, without change; it is the eternal which never originates and never passes away. There is the end of sorrow.

    It is hard to realize the essential, the truth is not easily perceived; desire is mastered by him who knows, and to him who sees aright all things are naught. There is, O monks, an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed. Were there not, O monks, this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated and unformed, THEREFORE is there an escape from the born, originated, created, formed.”~ Udana, 80-81

    • Sam/Joseph/Mark, I’d be happy to discuss the formation and evolution of major world religions with you, but it could get long, and is quite off the topic of this blog post. So please email me if interested.

      I notice you’re all posting from the same IP address. It makes me wonder if you’re friends from the same Bible study group, or if you’re the same person posing as different people. Either way, I agree with you that love of God and neighbor is among the most important and relevant of Jesus’ teachings (regardless of his views on the afterlife). How one interprets and applies phrases like “love of God”, “salvation of the soul”, “enlightenment”, and “escape from the born” may differ, and justifiably so. Naturally, it will be based on one’s own conditioning and life experience.

      For example, when I read about the transcendence you speak of in reference to the Buddhist quote you gave, it appears to me to refer not to the afterlife, but to a state of presence available in this moment. This particular quote does not discuss the ways in which that state may be reached, but in my (admittedly limited) experience, it has more to do with focusing on the present moment, than a future one. And I think Jesus would agree (Matt 6:34, Luke 17:21), despite some Bible verses that may be appear to be future focused. A modern Christian may see it differently, and that’s ok.

      I appreciate many things about Buddhist, Christian, and Taoist philosophies. But I am not a follower of any particular religion, nor do I think it is necessary to be in order to obtain happiness and peace in this life and/or in the life after. If your purpose in posting here is to convince me that I should believe in a specific version of the afterlife, I still fail to see a good reason for believing any particular version over another, or believing in one at all. If you believe strongly in an afterlife, and if this belief positively affects your life and how you live it, do feel free to share how you came to know this, and how this belief affects you, so that we may also benefit from your experience.

  6. Friends but not members of a bible study group. No, the intention was not to convince you of anything–that tends to be a waste of energy. Just a chance to express reactions to the post on an intellectual level. It could have led to a fruitful dialogue, but I think it’s best to bow out.

    We like your photographs very much, and you have a lovely family. All good wishes!

    • What direction would you have liked the discussion to go in order to be fruitful? I’ve invited you to clarify your point several times, but I’m still unclear on what it is you’re trying to say. What are the beliefs and actions that have made your life full of meaning and purpose? This is the kind of discussion that I think would be fruitful, and invited at the end of my original post – people each sharing what works for them. I’ve shared what’s working for me and why. And I’ve invited you to share your purpose and how you’re living it today. If you’d like to have a different type of discussion, let’s do that through email.

  7. Half a year ago I would agree with the bible study group (just joking), but nowadays I see that you Brandon are actually living the teachings, in stead of preaching about it or thinking about it all the time, which actually keep me out of the Now.
    I wish I could have that kind of simplicity in life, but with awareness.

    I heard this :’ be in the world, but not off it’
    My new motto…:-)

    I spend so many years thinking about purposes, passions.. For the big picture it’s not a big deal what this is. But for me, my happiness and lil’ ego (big one) it does. So let’s just start there…
    Without expectations just to do what makes me happy and feel good :-). Right here, right now. And here we are….

    Bless you and your family!!!

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