The meaning of purposefulness has gotten lost in our culture. It’s either been reduced to vague concepts or feel-good hoopla. Can you blame us? In a world where personal feelings determine perspective, it’s impossible to understand a true and universal worldview we can all learn from. Finding purpose these days is harder than ever to navigate.
What is the significance of our existence? And more importantly, who or what answers that question? Are we supposed to be happy while chasing our purpose in life?
Thankfully, the timeless teachings of virtues can help us answer all of those questions. These amazing lessons can be traced all the way back to Aristotle, who lived about 400 years before Jesus. Many religions and societies since have adopted these proven teachings, including our own American Constitution. Aristotle believed in the notion that our pursuit of happiness is directly correlated to our pursuit of virtue. Virtues are good habits that are done for a greater good instead of selfish interests. Isn’t it true, though? The irony of happiness is that it’s in serving other people and other causes that we find personal joy. And lucky for us, purposefulness is a virtue.
Here is how we can define meaningful purpose for our own life:
The first step in defining the meaning of purposefulness is defining our long-term vision. Whether that be a couple years from now or a couple decades from now, we must ask ourselves what kind of people we want to be in the future. And when we do get to that point and look back, how did we spend our time? Were our days spent better understanding our favorite Netflix shows or were they spent better understanding the people closest to us? Only we can decide how we want the big picture of our life to look.
Our passions are ultimately going to be fueled by one thing: positively impacting people. Whether that is our family members, friends, or the people’s lives we change in our career, we all want to be making a difference because that is what makes us the happiest. Passion is an insanely powerful force in our lives, and it’s even more powerful if our priorities are ordered correctly: family, work, and then everything else (including ourselves). Also, if we aren’t excited about our passions, then we aren’t doing it right. Defining our true passions, gifts, and talents that are our own will make a purposeful life very achievable, especially on the hard days.
Now, since purpose is a virtue, it is a day-in and day-out habit. This concept is so contrary to what we may have been taught about having purpose. It’s not a statement or a great quote. It’s an act we do every day if we can. Living this way is not always grandiose nor does it feel amazing all the time. Since our purpose is more than likely focused on making other people’s lives better, it is probably going to require a whole lot of being selfless. And we all know that doing what’s best for other people does not feel warm and fuzzy all of the time. However, all of those small things over time will add up to create that beautiful, wonderful long-term vision we have in mind for ourselves.
Even though his teachings are so old, Aristotle knew what he was talking about. It’s probably why his teachings have outlasted every major empire and are rarely rejected when fully understood. When people talk about “living with purpose,” all the fluff in the world will never mean a thing unless there is definitive, true meaning behind it all. So let’s come up with a meaningful vision for our life that really has lasting impact. Then, allow that passion to drive you to have real purposefulness.