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.
We explored the notion of purpose from the viewpoints of Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies, Early Sciences, Modern Sciences, Philosophy, Psychology, Ecology and Action Logics (pre-conventional) viewpoints in the past blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from an ‘Action Logics (post-conventional)’ viewpoint.
I started the previous blog post with an attempt to understand the notion of ‘Action Logics’, which tries to explain the ‘logic’ behind the ‘action’ we take. Most unspontaneous actions are based on decisions, which are rational, and therefore they could be based on an intention, reason or purpose. The four pre-conventional action logics; opportunist, diplomat, expert and achiever, explored in the last blog post was based on the degree of mutuality and expertise.
Let’s attempt to explore post-conventional action logics in this blog post based on the proposition by Greuter Cooke (2002). According to a research study in the USA of about 4300 adults, it was found that 18.2% belong to the post-conventional group. While it is difficult to define post-conventional, to me it seems like those who are more mature, wiser, selfless, seeking happiness through harmony, simplicity, generosity and spirituality, would fall into this group. (more…)
We explored the notion of purpose from the viewpoints of Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies, Early Sciences, Modern Sciences, Philosophy, Psychology & Ecology in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from an ‘Action Logics (pre-conventional)’ viewpoint.
Let’s first try to understand the notion of ‘Action Logics’. It tries to explain the ‘logic’ behind the ‘action’ we take. Most action is based on decisions unless it is spontaneous. If decisions are well thought out and rational, they could be based on an intention, reason or purpose. This shows that actions can be based on a reason or purpose.
Therefore, the logic behind decisions we make that determine actions we take, could have an impact on the quality of the decision and the resultant action. The notion of action logics has some potential in understanding this phenomenon.
The developers of the ‘Action Logics’ model proposes two broad categories of Action Logics: pre-conventional and post conventional. According to a research study in the USA of 4300 plus adults, it was found that 85% belong to the pre-conventional group. While it is difficult to define pre-conventional, to me it seems like those who are more materialistic, achievement oriented, less mature, younger and competitive would fall in to this group. Let me try to make sense of the four pre-conventional ‘Action-Logics’ in relation to purposeful living. (more…)
We explored the notion of purpose from the viewpoints of Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies, Early Sciences, Modern Sciences, Philosophy and Psychology in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from some of the Ecological viewpoints.
It’s May 2017. I got a call from the account manager from the company that manages my Mahogany plantation in the Ratnapura district of Sri Lanka. I have some bad news to share with you. What is it? I ask. One of your Mahogany plantations in Munihinkanda has got affected by the recent landslides. We have not been able to access the plantation yet as the authorities have restricted access to the plantations until they are able to confirm that it is secure. What is the extent of the damage? I ask. About ten acres of the plantation has slid down to the river below and we feel it includes one of your plots too. Interestingly I was calm as I heard this news, although the financial loss was going to be quite severe. As I digested this news my mind went to the time that a rubber plantation of a larger extent belonging to my father was destroyed due to a cyclone about 40 years ago. I remembered my involvement in the process of transporting the fallen trees to help my father recover at least a part of the losses. My mind wonders to the hundreds of lives lost due to this storm and thousands who have lost their livelihood as a result. Perhaps the reason for me to be emotionally unmoved by my financial loss could be because these are more severe than the personal financial loss I have incurred. I have watched with dismay so many natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunami’s, floods, landslides, forest fires etc. happening in various parts of the world. It seems like it is getting more and more intense.
We explored the notion of purpose from the view point from Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies, Early Sciences, Modern Sciences and Philosophy in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from some of the Psychological viewpoints.
Although having been appointed to boards of two of the companies of John Keells Holdings, at the age of 27, after having been appointed Marketing Manager of that company at the age of 24, largely due to the gold medal I won at the final examination of the UK based Chartered Institute of Marketing examination, and many corporate successes, I had a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness in my life during my early thirties. The various solutions applied to deal with this emptiness were related to attempting to think and act positively after having attended the ‘Mastery of Self’ playshop under Omar Khan during that period. I also find many of the participants attending workshops I facilitate grappling with such emptiness.
Positive psychology – A science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions promises to improve quality of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when life is barren and meaningless – addresses this feeling of emptiness, described with the word ‘barren’. The exclusive focus on pathology that has dominated so much of our discipline results in a model of the human beings lacking the positive features that makes life worth living. Hope, wisdom, creativity, future mindedness, courage, spirituality, responsibility, and perseverance are ignored or explained as transformations of more authentic negative impulses (Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p.5).
We explored the notion of purpose from the viewpoint from Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies, early sciences and modern sciences in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from some of the Philosophical viewpoints.
An early proponent of the concept of purpose was Aristotle. His thinking of purpose tends to summarise the viewpoints of this diverse group of people. He suggests that the most basic meaning of quality of life refers to the ability of humans to formulate and implement purpose. Adoption of a good lifestyle that includes good health, social wellbeing and environmental safety or their promotion is purposeful activity (Jonsen,1976). While concepts of health, social wellbeing and environment is alluded by Aristotle, he does not talk about skills, knowledge and vocation, as echoed in some of the conversations I have had, and from my first-person knowing.
We explored the notion of purpose from the perspective of Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies and early sciences in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from some of the modern scientific viewpoints.
Modern sciences have developed new theories, from the findings of the early sciences, about the evolution of life. An initial review of this literature does not provide specific answers regarding the purpose of life and the purposeful living of beings, specifically human beings. Therefore, this body of knowledge needs to be further analysed for deeper and wider understanding, which could lead to a theory regarding purposefulness (major theme in my doctoral inquiry). The discovery of Nuclein and Double Helix Structure of DNA by Crick, Watson and Wilkins (Olby, 1974) has helped deeper understanding of its role in the makeup of human beings, providing potential to understand the purpose of our lives.