Thought Catalog

Your Purpose Is Not The Justification For Your Life

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When I paint, I am no longer there. Lost is my ego. There is no “I.” It is no longer here.

There is simply painting. Our best work comes when we are in flow. Flow is immersion in an activity. It is when we are in the zone, when we are intensely focused on the activity and time disappears. The hands of the clock seem to bend and twist. The ego subsides, taking a step back alongside with time. The ego no longer adulterates the project, allowing the Self to flow through uninhibited. The Self’s creative force streams more smoothly and spontaneously without the ego in the way. Flow accompanies a sense of psychological wellbeing; we feel Zen-like joy. We paint for the sake of painting; we do an activity for the sake of the activity itself.

I suggest that we treat our life purposes as flow activities, where we become immersed in a state of oneness with our purposes in relaxed and soothing way. When life purposes are viewed as justifications for our existence, this is a recipe for neuroticism, and the anxiety this thinking causes takes us out of our oneness with our purposes.

Your life has value because life is valuable for its own sake. Your Self is valuable for its own sake; treat your Self with unconditional regard. When the value of the Self is made to be contingent on purpose in life, in other words, when its value is made to justify life’s existence, this feels nerve-wracking. The motivation to fulfill one’s purpose then comes from an external locus of control, rather than an internal locus of control. It comes from pressure, not from intrinsic motivation.

Fulfilling one’s purpose is healthier, organic, and more authentic when it comes from within and from a state of inner peacefulness. Justification robs us of from participating in life and our purpose as a flow state.

You have a reason for being, but that reason for being is not the justification for being. Understanding this helps you greatly in fulfilling your purpose in life.

A narrow focus on your life’s value as merely contingent on your purpose actually is restrictive that purpose. When we peel away the illusions of constraint and pressure that justification places on us, this opens the doors for the creative force of purpose to stream smoothly. Justification only serves to dampen the flow. Without the stress of justification of purpose on your life, your purpose can breathe, and you can breathe. You and your purpose can function in a more genuine manner, rather than in a constrained and pressured manner.

Observe the relationship between you and your purpose. To say that your life’s value depends on a purpose is like saying your lover depends upon you, and that she has no reason for being for his or her own sake. This makes for a desperate lover and an unhealthy relationship. A person who views purpose as a justification for his or her life is desperate, and what manifests is an unhealthy relationship with purpose. This desperate attitude of “justifying one’s existence” does not bode well for one’s life or purpose to grow, unfold, and flourish in a relaxed and thriving manner. By making one’s purpose dependent on the ego, rather than allowing one’s purpose to be valuable for its own sake, the ego can taint your purpose’s aims.

The reason for this is that when purpose is used to justify one’s own life, this leads to a hyper-protectiveness and hyper-sensitivity around one’s chosen purpose. This is because challenges to it literally become insults to the ego. Getting stuck in one’s beliefs and dogmatism will result in order to protect the ego.

Feel the life of your purpose, ideas, ideals, and beliefs without investing the ego. You know when you are making the error of justification if you search for and cling to a purpose out of desperation. When reputation and image matters when fulfilling one’s own purpose, this is when the ego matters more than the purpose itself. “Purpose” then merely becomes self-serving.

Treat purpose as a Tibetan monk’s mandala. The monk creates a beautiful, colorful, sophisticated mandala, destroys it, and then makes another one. I am not saying to destroy your purpose, but instead I am asking you to see how the monk’s ego is not invested in his mandala and thus he constructs it completely out of play, out of the focus on the process, out of a focus on the mandala itself. Thus he is willing to sacrifice the mandala and make a new one. Overtime, you will find out what your true purpose is illusion after another illusion of what you assumed is your true purpose.

To find the true purpose of one’s life, one must patiently play with each potential purpose in life, become immersed in it, and then with non-attachment, and let go of it to make room for a better hypothesis for what your purpose is. When done out of a sense of play, out of focus on the process, out of relaxation, the Self and its reason for being naturally will reveal itself to you. TC mark

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