The Modern Survival Guide #92

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The Idea of Purpose

Ok, so what is “purpose?” And how can we have any real purpose, in a life where we know that we are merely specks of dust on the surface of a ball of rock circling a mid-sized star that is but one of uncounted trillions, and when we know we’re all going to die someday? How do we have the gumption to get out of bed into a world where, arguably, most of our contributions have no cosmic impact, and will be almost instantly forgotten when we’re gone?

  1. Move
  2. Grow
  3. Help
  4. Act

Learn

I get out of bed in the morning because I’m curious. I want to see what the next gadget is going to be. I want to read about the next scientific discovery. I want to see another piece of the world. I want to unravel just a little bit more of the mysteries of the universe.

Move

I get out of bed in the morning to go places. More particularly, I get out of bed in the morning to go to new places and revisit old places. Not just physically, but also metaphorically: life, for me, gains purpose through motion, through walking different paths and thinking different thoughts.

Grow

I get out of bed in the morning because I have the opportunity to be a better me. Every day we each have the opportunity to look back on our lives and see where things went wrong and what went right. Sometimes that’s kind of a sobering look, but it does mean that we can choose to make changes. Making deliberate changes is one of the central things that happens when you grow as a person, and it’s I think it’s a big part of adulting.

Help

I get out of bed in the morning because, at some point during the day, I will be able to help someone. And probably, in all likelihood, someone will be able to help me. Helping people is an intrinsically viable purpose — every helping hand makes our society better, and therefore makes our lives better as a whole.

Act

I get up in the morning to do stuff. I can’t do stuff if I stay in bed. I mean, I can do some stuff. Just not all the stuff. It’s really hard to go skydiving while in bed. And since a lot of my purpose in life is tied to the stuff that I do, taking action is kind of important.

A Purposeful Life is a Life Well-Lived

When I talk about a purposeful life, then, what I mean is that it was a life lived through meaningful action, in pursuit of something greater than mere existence. We are all, in a sense, involuntary participants in this world. None of us chose to be born; none of us chose our starting circumstances. We are born into the unknown and we live in the unknown, and accepting that is an important part of finding purpose in life.

Searching for truth in a world focused on belief.

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