Purpose of Living – Part 11: Making Sense of our purpose – the overview
We explored the notion of purpose from various viewpoints in the past ten blog posts in this series. I believe it is now time to explore how we can make sense of our purpose. One reason I believe the time is right is because my professional practice over the past 20 years, and my Phd inquiry so far over the past three years has informed me of possible ways of making sense of our purpose. I believe some of the readers have already explored their purpose given various experiences and learnings in their life, and from the suggestions in the ten blog posts in this series so far.
Over the last three years the model of purposefulness has changed from having four components to nine components and from linear to loosely related. This change has happened based on an action inquiry process that took place as I tried to make sense of the notion of purpose by attempting to live a purposeful life in an inquiring manner. Inquiring into the notion in my family life, work life, social life, academic life, reflecting in to my experiences, taking new actions based on the reflection, reflecting based on action, and continuing the action-inquiry process. The model of purposefulness has evolved in this process and I believe it will continue to evolve.
The model as it stands now is presented in this blog post and I will explore the components and their relationships in depth in the blog posts to follow. I believe our purpose is something universal, related to making a positive impact on the process of life. The process of life consists of living beings, both human and other than human, the environment we live in, the resources we need to live such as food, water, fresh air, clothing etc., the infrastructure we need to live such as healthcare, education, transportation, communication, housing, and processes that ensure peace, harmony, joy and morality such as worship, entertainment, sports and marriage. Therefore, each living being has a role to play, based on their talent and passion to make a positive contribution to the process of life and I believe that would help us find our purpose.
My life experience and inquiry in to my life shows that we may be living purposefully with or without a sense of purpose and we may stumble upon the notion of purpose accidentally or intentionally. Our sense of purpose may evolve with life, but we may or may not be fully certain that we know our purpose even at the end of our lifetime. The seed of purpose may be growing inside us even without our consciousness and we may become aware of it for various reasons. The first moment we become aware of the notion of purpose is like planting a seed which continues to grow thereafter. Like a tree creates more trees, it has the potential of creating more purposeful people who will create more purposeful people and the process will continue, although the preceding tree will die at some point.
Based on this preamble let me present to the world my yet evolving model of purposefulness. It is presented in a planetary formation based on an action-inquiry process which will not be detailed in this post for brevity.
According to this model the purpose is like the sun, providing us energy, inspiration, and sets us in motion. The nine circles are like the planets that rotate around the sun and is in communion with each other. A movement in any of the planets could have an impact on the system, but non-as powerful as the sun, our life-purpose. Each of the components have a life of its own, powered by the purpose, like planet earth has life powered by the sun. Let me briefly explain the components;
- Awareness – becoming aware of the notion of purpose by hearing it from someone, reading about it or having an ‘aha’ from the sub conscious.
- Glimpse – seeing the beginning of what might be one’s purpose. It’s only a glimpse, a hunch, something that needs more clarity.
- Choices – making choices to be in line with the glimpsed purpose. This could be small choices such as change in food habit or big choices such as career move, most suited for one’s current sense of purpose.
- Building – Developing oneself to be fit for purpose in spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, physical, financial, ecological, societal and temporal aspects.
- Representations – giving a physical representation to the purpose in terms of a written statement, a painting, a poem, a song, a prop or an artefact, as a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic reminder.
- Rituals – activities we do daily, such as reflecting on the purpose at the beginning and end of the day, reviewing purpose periodically, celebrating achievements related to purpose etc.
- Responding – saying yes to opportunities that come our way to live more purposefully or vice-versa.
- Growing – learning and growing with the struggles we face as we attempt to live a purposeful life.
- Inspire – live in a manner that inspires others to live a purposeful life.
My inquiry shows that these phases may or may not happen in a linear order. In fact, one can start from any of these phases and move to any phase. For example, one can face struggles in their life, that leads to some counselling or reading that makes them understand the importance of building themselves in the spiritual and mental aspects of life, and that can lead to the awareness of the notion of purpose and so on.
I invite you to firstly see if this model makes sense based on your process of life. Secondly, I invite you to explore which phase/s you may be in your life right now and reflect about its helpfulness in making better sense of your life-purpose. Thirdly I invite you to explore which other phases you need to move to, act and reflect on the impact it is having on your quality of life. We will go in to detail regarding each of the phases in the next nine blog posts.
Meanwhile I wish you purposeful living!