We have come to the last installment of the Happiness Series. In this post, we will discuss how we can find our purpose in life and how purpose contributes to our happiness. If you want to read the two previous posts, you can click the links below:
WHAT IS PURPOSE?
Have you ever felt lost in life? Do you feel unsure of the reason why you exist? If so, you are not alone. I am sure there are also people who feel the same. I, for one, feel this way too. There are people who are saying that most of us do not really know what we are doing or if the things we are currently doing have any impact. This feeling of being lost in life is also known as a “crisis” such as quarter-life crisis, third-life crisis or mid-life crisis. The antidote to this kind of feeling, I believe, is reconnecting to one’s purpose.
Purpose is a person’s reason for being.
Without purpose, life would be chaotic and depressing. The feeling of meaninglessness is one of the symptoms of depression. We can overcome depression if we will be able to feel that there is still a good reason to continue with life. It will also help if we are optimistic and resilient. The feeling of being purposeful helps us to be happy and fulfilled.
Martin Seligman considers having purpose as a pillar of happiness. Happiness is the state of feeling positive emotions, capacity to recover from negative emotions quickly and holding a sense of purpose. The more we are able to fulfill our purpose, the happier we are.
There are a lot of things that are attributed to purpose. Sometimes, it is related to someone’s responsibilities. For example in the Filipino culture, we take upon ourselves the responsibilities of providing for our families even when we already have our own. The purpose of Filipino children is often to get his family out of poverty. Other times, purpose is attributed to doing charitable acts towards the less fortunate. Sometimes, it is our calling or our vocation. A person’s definition of purpose may differ to the other. It is up to us on how we will define our purpose.
MY JOURNEY TOWARDS PURPOSE
In high school, I was this shy, insecure girl who does not know what she wants to be. My Mama suggested I should be a teacher like her while my Papa wants me to take up Accountancy because he believes it is a high paying job. Although I appreciate their suggestions, I have never thought of becoming a teacher nor an accountant. I dislike the idea of teaching noisy children as I believe that I tend to be impatient with them. I never considered taking up Accountancy because I believe I am terrible with Math and the course is filled with it.
I was tempted to take Mass Communication because I was influenced by my cousin who took the same course. I considered it because one of my passion is writing. However, I later talked my self out of it because I dreaded public speaking. I do not believe that I would be an effective speaker.
When I asked my friends what they would be taking up in college, they answered different courses. Some plan to take up Human Resource, some want to take up Nursing. Others want to be teachers. Again, I was persuaded to try applying for colleges and courses they applied to. I did not want to be separated from my friends because I value them so much. However, I realized that it is inevitable to be separated from them as we have different interests and goals in life.
So, I started reading books and magazines about college life. It has been my habit to read about the things I am going to experience because it will help me prepare for it. In one section of a teen magazine, I read a column from a counselor answering a letter sender’s question about what the course Psychology is about and what jobs she could do when she finishes the course.
It was a new term for me. I even pronounced it as phy-si-ko-logi. Despite being unfamiliar with the term, I got interested with the counselor’s answer. She told the letter sender that Psychology studies about human behavior and a graduate of that program has a lot of career options to choose from. I researched more about Psychology and the more I learned about it, the more I become interested.
I hoped that there is someone I could talk to about my thoughts and help me arrive to a decision. I even tried writing to the counselor in that magazine to help me. I read in the internet that it is a counselor’s job to help students with career problems. However, guidance counselors in the public schools in the Philippines are known to be disciplinarians. I thought I might be scolded by just reaching out to them so I did not pushed through meeting with one.
After some serious pondering, I decided to take Psychology as my course in college.
In college, I learned how fascinating Psychology is and that I was good at it. I excelled in class and I was a consistent dean’s lister. In my fourth year, I was greatly inspired by my professors in my major that I aimed to be an academician too. My desire to teach and guide the youth was fueled within me.
LIVING MY PURPOSE
A few months after graduation, I applied to a guidance counselor position in a private university near our home. I was not expecting it but I got accepted. I was shocked because I applied to different companies as an HR associate but I was not accepted to any of it. Now, I am hired as a counselor. The realization that maybe I am meant to be in this field hit me.
I encountered a lot of students who struggled with mental and emotional health concerns in my work as a counselor. I strived to be that person that helps students with their personal and career problems. An assistance I did not have access to when I was still studying. I realized that a lot of teens struggle with the same concerns I struggled with in high school and college. They need help and I want to be of help.
A few months being a counselor, I realized that my purpose is to help people with their mental health concerns. I want to guide them in reaching their fullest potential and living the best life they could ever have. I want to teach them to love themselves and build their self-esteem because it is very important in achieving success.
My goals may have evolved now but that purpose to educate people about mental health and guide them through life still remain. This is even the purpose of this blog. I am combining my love for psychology and writing in this passion project. It makes me so happy to be seeing the people I helped grow and improve.
I can confidently say that I already found my purpose or my ikigai.
HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR IKIGAI?
Telling you about my story makes it look like I had it all figured out but let me tell you that is not true. I was not able to appreciate what I experienced and kept on looking for my purpose. I stumbled upon the term ikigai, which is the Japanese term for purpose and I realized after some thought that I am already living it.
Here is a helpful worksheet from Lavendaire which I got from Pinterest. She also has videos about finding your sweet spot which I find very helpful. You can check out her channel too. She is one of my favorites.
Find what you love
This could be your interests and/or passions. For me, my passion is teaching or sharing what I learn. I am passionate about writing and I advocate strongly for mental health. Try assessing yourself about the things you are inclined to do. What are the things you are interested about? What causes do you stand for? What sparks joy in you?
Discover what you are good at
I will not buy it if you will tell me that you are not good at anything. We all have talents. Some may be shy about it while some are not yet aware of it. But I encourage you to rationally think about your strengths. Reflect on your achievements even those small victories you had. Think about what things you excel at. Consider the things other people tell you that you are good at. Sometimes, other people can see things we are not aware of. In my view, I know that I am good in Psychology and I can work well with people.
Learn what the world needs
Technology have evolved in such great lengths but I am sure that not all of the problems experienced by the world are already solved. There is still something that needs to be addressed. Find that thing that you advocate about and stand up for it. Try volunteering to different causes to find out what you resonate deeply about. What services or help can you offer to others? For me, I really feel deeply towards mental health.
If you think that the field you are interested in is already saturated and that everything has been done already, listen to me when I say that you are still needed. Do not get discouraged. I watched this video from Marie Forleo wherein she taught a very valuable reminder. There are people who are waiting for you to speak up so stand up and do so.
Explore opportunities that you can be paid for
Truth be told, money is an essential tool in life. It provides for our basic needs as well as our wants. We use it so that we can be of help to others and fulfill our purpose. Find out what jobs you can do that will provide you with enough financial resource.
CALL TO ACTION
There are things you can do to find it out. You can use the worksheet above and you will realize a lot of things. Take the time to sit down and ponder about these things. It will be truly worth it as you will not only find what your purpose is but you will also expand your awareness about yourself.
Here are some things you can do:
- Find out what your purpose is by using the worksheet. List down all the things that is asked for in a sheet of paper: what do you love, what are you good at, what does the world need and what can you be paid for.
- Identify what are some of the hindrances that prevent you from living your purpose. What are some of the things you can do to break these hindrances?
- Connect with me through my social media accounts which you can find at the top right corner of this website and let us talk about the realizations/takeaways you have obtained from this post.