48. Why a Purpose Could Save Your Life

Today, we’ve cleaned up in the apartment and done some plans for how to rearrange everything to fit, once Jay is there.

Cleaning up and fitting things in your living for a new, expanded function.

Seems like as good an occasion as any to talk more about purpose.

Purpose is about your feeling – however it has come to you – that you are here for a reason.

If you don’t believe some kind of ‘god’ gave you a reason, or karma or whatever, then you have found a reason through your own search.

That is very much possible. And it can be recommendable.

But at its core, your sense of purpose is about giving something to the world that is larger than you. It may just be something to your closest friends.

Whatever purpose is, it is about something more than you, about your career, ego, money.

All the stuff that may be necessary to a degree, but which ultimately leaves you stranded and feeling alone and isolated.

So when your basic needs are fulfilled, always spend more time looking for some work especially with passion and meaning – whatever that means to you.

It will serve you well, when the darkness comes – next time.

*

I was at hospital in 2005, battling severe anxiety, drugged, believing my life was over and that I was going to be handicapped by this mental affliction for the rest of it.

One of the chief reasons I pulled through was that I couldn’t stand the thought of giving up …my purpose.

… I couldn’t stand the thought of NOT being able to do something purposeful with my life – something that meant something to others.

Which at the time was something to do with going abroad and working to help people in a poorer country, the so called developing countries.

Nowadays, it is probably more like writing a lot of stuff that lift people’s spirits …

As I grow older, I feel increasingly that the way I can contribute to this world’s states becoming a little less prone to be miserable to live in, is to contribute to a less miserable mind-state.

But never mind the exact nature of my chosen purpose.

The important thing here is that it was always there – my drive to find a purpose. I had already looked for it earlier in life.

I suppose you have to have some kind of innate mental or spiritual impetus to START doing that …

… but once you start, as with all things, you can bloody well keep the spark alive and make it grow and flame up by dedicating more and more attention to search for … purpose.

Unless you don’t …

I did.

Kept up the search.

Because I felt more and more frustrated that I had not found, for example, a job that both paid a living and felt meaningful, so I had to try again.

But also for positive reasons, because it Simply. Felt. Good.

So when my life was torpedoed by mental illness big time 12 years ago, I had SOME-thing to cling on to.

I had something that I could not give up. That meant I had to fight the illness.

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For different people it can be different things.

As long as it is greater than your little self.

This purpose which will save you.

For many people it can be family – or even some unfilled, but very strong, desires to see certain places in the world.

So 12 years ago I couldn’t stand being confined to a condition where I could not contribute to the world.

And so I fought to change that condition. And succeeded. I am not sure I could have done that if I had not had purpose.

*

A friend of mine who was admitted to the psychiatric ward at much the same time as I, is a pensioner today. He does not have a strong purpose.

His ‘purpose’ if it even exists in any meaningful form, is mostly about surviving and getting by. More concretely it is about being safe, and about doing stuff he enjoys like reading or watching television.

Of course his case is more complicated than that brief glimpse, but it does make one wonder, doesn’t it?

I mean, my friend and I went through the same ordeal more or less at the same time.

We had very similar symptoms of anxiety and depression, strong enough for us to be admitted to hospital. Me in 2005. Him in 2006.

Today one of us is still ithere. In a kind of hospital. A kind of confinement.

*

Since that dark time I have come to be more aware of my purpose, at least in some ways.

I have come to realize that no matter its origins – spiritual or mental or even biological – this drive in me for purpose has served me well.

I have not had a vision, though. An epiphany. Or just some kind of clear-cut conclusion from countless of mental exercises.

I don’t know EXACTLY my purpose should be … what this drive of wanting to connect with life ‘in a larger way’ is.

Nobody arrived with a slip saying: “Chris, your purpose is x, and you have to carry it out doing y. Thank you.”

It is by no means a bad thing.

In fact, I feel more and more accepting of my purpose being a little ‘misty’ – never entirely well-defined.

There are some strong contours coming out of the mist, being recognizable, such as writing this blog, but otherwise … I don’t know. Maybe I never will.

All I know is that this drive to find purpose has sustained me: Kept me alive when it mattered.

I trust it will in the future as well.

*

People are different, that much is obvious.

Especially when you consider the story of what happened to my friend and what happened to me … all those years ago.

I know deep inside I made it to a new life because I had something to fight for.

I think part of the explanation why he did not make it was that he had little to fight for, except his own life.

So read into this example what you will. I believe he had had a better chance of recovery if he had a keener sense of purpose. And that’s all there is to it.

Ultimately you decide what your purpose is.

Even if your purpose feels dictated by some ‘higher power’, you decide if you want to accept it, as you perceive it. Or reject it.

So catch that gossamer thread and see where it leads. This sense that you need more purpose.

Stop pretending this doesn’t matter – as much as going to work every day and taking care of all the routine things. It does. I’m sure of it.

But I can only convince you if you are convinced enough to try for yourself.

Purpose matters.

Once you are fairly sure you get food on the table every day and basics like that, perhaps it matters more than anything else.

 

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