Having a Purpose

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

When trying to achieve true happiness in life, it is necessary that we feel our life has a purpose. Without a defined purpose, or mission, it can often feel as if we are wondering aimlessly through our days. For many of us, it can be very difficult to recognize our mission in life. But once we have a mission in life, it will help to drive up our happiness with the feeling that our days are full of meaning.

Being someone who has struggled with depression for most of my life, it is very for me to recognize and strive to fulfill my mission in life.  When it is painful, and sometimes impossible, to get out of bed to face the day, one can hardly imagine that day being spent in the pursuit of a deeper meaning. During these times, nothing is enjoyable and the days are completely meaningless. A depressed person’s days are spent simply surviving.

But despite the way we feel in the midst of depression, we have the right to a life of happiness and meaning. The key to figure out our mission in life is to evaluate the things we enjoy. Of course, many of us have times in which there is absolutely nothing we enjoy, or anything that will ever make us happy.

I have been lucky enough to be someone who greatly benefits from antidepressants. They do not make me happy, nor do they completely eradicate my depression and anxiety, but they do lift up to a level where I am occasionally able to experience some enjoyment. Having these times of relief has given me the ability to work towards discovering my mission in life. I am now able to known these things I enjoy doing and evaluate how these things relate to my life’s deeper meaning.

If you are at a point in your life where you can experience enjoyment, then I recommend taking the time to write down those things that you enjoy doing and experiencing. Don’t give it much thought, these are meant to be the things that enter your mind most naturally. Don’t bother editing because none of these things are insignificant. If you enjoy feeding ducks by the lake, it has a purpose in your life.

If you are someone that isn’t at a point in your life where you are experiencing any kind of enjoyment, then I recommend trying to think back to a time when you did have the ability. It may have been as a young child, but those things we enjoyed as children can still be a part of our adult lives. For instance, I enjoyed drawing cartoons as a kid, and as an adult I enjoy painting.

Here a list I created recently of things that I enjoy.

I Enjoy

Reading: fiction and non-fiction, but no cheesy romance novels

Painting and creating art

Going antiquing (preferably when I have some money)

Making jewelry. Well, not the process as much as the result.

Cuddling

Feeling loved or desired

Going for walks

Writing (sometimes)

Thrifting: mostly for clothes

The Library

Sleeping

When someone enjoys what I’ve cooked

Being around animals, particularly dogs

Feeling needed

Having something to look forward to

The way I feel after working out

Ward showers and sometimes baths

Exploring new places

Trying new things

Dancing to live music

Drinking a beer on a porch with a friend

Having knowledge that can help someone else

Having people I can count on when I am in need

The way I feel when I eat healthy

Several of the things that I enjoy happen to be extrinsic, and most likely not key to my mission in life. It is probably most beneficial to focus on the intrinsic joys, the ones I actually have some control over in my life. If we put too much value in those things outside of ourselves, we will be devastated if they are ever taken away. Of course, we should always appreciate our friends and family. We should appreciate the material things that we possess. But these things outside of us can be lost. We will be affected by the world around us no matter what, but as long as their is inner-joy and a mission in life we will be able to overcome life’s obstacles. Having a mission in life makes us able to achieve true happiness, and this happiness will affect the people around us.

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