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wundayatta's avatar

What specific event(s) nudged you towards a better understanding of your purpose?

Asked by wundayatta (58377 points ) April 19th, 2009

Perhaps it is a more personal experience, like going surfing for the first time. Perhaps it is something in the news, like a war, or discrimination. Perhaps it is a series of small things building up to an awareness that this is what you must do.

Just suggestions that maybe get your brain going. What were the events or what was the major event that crystalized your sense of purpose in life?

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31 Answers

trumi's avatar

String Theory!

hearkat's avatar

Giving birth taught me my primary purpose.

As for my career; I always knew I wanted to help people, because I always wanted someone to help me during my difficult childhood and adolescence. It just took a while before I found the vocation most suited to my natural talents.

YARNLADY's avatar

Over time, I have come to realize there is no such thing. Each day/event follows the other and that is all there is.

SeventhSense's avatar

I agree with YARNLADY. I have no “purpose” although I try to create value for myself and others through whatever task I am involved in.

knitfroggy's avatar

If I have a purpose in life I don’t know what it is yet…is it ever to late to find out? Do you have to have a purpose or is it ok just to be a nice person?

wundayatta's avatar

I think of purpose as the thing you are called to do. You might have many purposes. It doesn’t have to be a Purpose with a capital P. Just what calls you.

It can be your work, if you really want to do your work. If you are just working at whatever will keep a roof over your head, it’s probably not a purpose.

But the question is really about what pushed you towards the thing that calls you. If you feel called to do charity work, why? To be a musician? Why? To spend your life thinking about religion or philosophy—why? To parent; to build race cars; to climb mountains; to build space ships, or fly them—why?

Purpose doesn’t have to be an earthshaking kind of thing. It’s not your purpose for the world, or God, or for other people. It’s your own purpose; that which you feel best when you are progressing towards it.

kenmc's avatar

Nothing. I have no “purpose”, nor does anything else.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I found out that my purpose is to be the best ME I can be. Like today, a little old lady asked me to help take her display table down when I walked by. I was at the store buying groceries and just out of the blue, for no reason, she asked if I would help her. I happened to be there, and she asked for my help. I of course agreed to help her because I like to help people, it makes me feel good to give help to those who need it. She called me a good samaritan afterwards, but I didn’t think any such thing. I was doing what needed to be done. It felt good to help her, and I always like myself a little better after things like that.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The simultaneous discoveries of Information Theory and the Sphota Theory during an extended time of personal tragedy. That changed everything for me. Things will never be the same again.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@boots Hammers have a purpose.

Blondesjon's avatar

I think it was when a self-serving decision I made set in motion the events that led to the death of my Uncle Ben. By not using the super powers I had gained, from being bitten by a radioactive spider, for the good of others I set myself up for the bitter and ironic loss of someone close to me.

knitfroggy's avatar

@Blondesjon My gosh, that sounds just like a movie!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

My masters program helped me understand that I don’t actually want a career in medicine even though I earned the degree to be a better doctor once I’d go to med school…but together with a few teaching jobs here and there and the masters itself I realized I want to teach sociology as a career…so when I found out that I didn’t get into med school, I was glad and excited about the future

SuperMouse's avatar

There were two for me. First when I went back to school in the fall of 07. I started out with all kinds of business classes planning to finish the degree I began before I had kids. I was only about two semesters away from being done. I went to each of the classes once and realized it wasn’t what I really wanted to do, so I switched to education. It added a year and student teaching to my time in school, but I am glad I made that choice.

The second was when I had my first field experience this semester. I started out observing three high school math classes where I was bored out of my mind. A couple of weeks ago I moved into observing a self-contained classroom for moderate to severely mentally disabled children. I loved it from the second I walked in and knew at that second that I will teach special education.

ninjacolin's avatar

internet forums. i think there’s “purpose” hidden somewhere in my use (or abuse) of them. but I don’t know what it is exactly or how i can tap into it in a more productive way. someone on another forum said that maybe i should be a writer for some of the crap i said. i never thought of that before.. so, i figure i may as well get some schooling on it and see what comes of it. life is confusing!

nikipedia's avatar

I got an email from a friend recently that said:

“You know you’re in the right field when you tell everyone you meet that they’d be an idiot for doing what you’re doing but you still love it. There’s no self-delusion about it, you just accept that it’s an idiotic thing you love.”

And it’s true. It’s just this dumb thing that I can’t get enough of. I wish I could say there was one crystallizing moment, but it’s been more like a long, gradual process of falling love more and more every day.

augustlan's avatar

Two experiences shaped my purpose.

1) A very very bad childhood.

2) Becoming a mother.

I feel my purpose is to raise wonderful human beings. 3 of them. :)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Two events. I lived 7yrs with a good person, 7yrs with a not so good person and was able to distill from both experiences what and who I am and how I want to live for my future with others.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Sheesh, just call me Jonah. Is there a female Jonah in literature? No? Because I’ve been running away from doing the thing I’m supposed to do, and it’s finally caught up with me. I’m on that little boat in the roiling waters at the moment. A chat with my improv coach about finding a mentor made me realize that yes, this is closer to my purpose and I can’t run back. I can’t unknow this. I can’t pretend to not know, either.

Recently, I have learned that there is knee-knocking anxiety attached to several of my dreams, which is why I’ve not set any goals to attain them, why I’ve been hiding myself. Making myself 45 lbs. overweight, taking shit jobs and pretending that I’m an unworthy person have been my excuses. Apparently, and I imagine this is true for most anyone, there’s a deep exposure of the self involved with my purpose, whence comes the knee-knocking anxiety and the whipping up “issues” for myself.

It’s been easier for me all these years, since elementary school even, to hide in the background and do the bare minimum to get by in life. I haven’t been very disciplined. Unfortunately, living like this doesn’t work anymore. Not fulfilling my purpose is tearing me up inside. Regardless of the anxiety, I’ll actually have to write down the steps it will take to reach these goals and to do what I have to do.

The thing that terrifies you (that’s not life-threatening)? That’s exactly the thing you need to be doing. That’s probably part of your purpose. I’m finding this to be absolutely true.

unused_bagels's avatar

Getting my SNES*, Losing my virginity, moving out, getting married, buying a house, joining the navy, becoming a delegate to the state convention, you name it. I keep having life-changing events, every one as delicious as the first.
And to make things even more delicious, I view my purpose as fluid, and changeable, which makes me feel free and not locked-in to one purpose, should another cause or purpose present itself.

*yes, getting the SNES gave me new purpose, and was my first step towards a computer-based career.

SeventhSense's avatar

@aprilsimnel
Thanks for your honesty. I’d give you 10 GA’s if I could.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it started in third grade, when I drew a map of Vietnam, as part of an effort to understand where it was and what was going on there. This would have been in 1964. I paid attention, after that, and read some history, probably when I was in high school, and came to the awareness that they are people just like us, trying to build decent lives for themselves.

When I was a senior in high school, I had my first mystical experience. I was standing in a playground, looking up. This must have been in the days before pollution made the night sky invisible. I saw so many bright stars, and someone I made the connection that stars are like people, and that like stars, sharing a lot of similar characteristics, so do people. At the time, I thought of it as: “people are all the same.”

Of course, college added to this sense, and taught me more that helped me understand about other people. I started writing poetry (bad poetry, poetry none the less) and I realized that writing was part of my toolbox. In addition, several trips to other parts of the world helped. At this point, I thought of it as: “I want to become wise.”

For many years, I worked in politics, fundraising, organizing, working with labor unions. Eventually, I became a policy analyst working primarily on health care issues (I was working on universal coverage plans long before they became a blip on the public radar screen). I worked on a variety of other issues related to the environment, peace in the middle east, making the federal government more transparent, helping restore legal immigrants’ access to Medicaid, the benefits of better care of alzheimer’s patients, the demands that state governments can expect in five, ten, and twenty years… and more. I have since moved on to education, trying to prepare young people to be more scientifically rigorous in their efforts to research the human side of our world.

When I was maybe 32, I got into a car accident that hurt my back. I could no longer dance, so I returned to one of my early loves in life: music. I picked up my trumpet, that I had barely touched in fifteen years, and I exercised my lips until I could play again. I realized that music and dance play a role in this, for they can show people how to cooperate, and they are reliable mechanisms for taking us out of our bodies and into the realm of consciousness where we connect with everyone.

Then I found outlets for my thinking and writing, here and elsewhere. Also, I got sick, with bipolar disorder, and through that learned how much I have in common with those whose grip on life is like stretching a balloon: you never know how far it will stretch before it breaks.

Of course, being human, I can fit it all in to my story. I can tell it in a way that it makes sense with regard to my purpose. Ultimately, the purpose is one I chose, somehow, some way, way back when I was in grade school. There are probably other reasons why I chose it that I’m not aware of, but those are the ones that come to mind at this moment.

My purpose is to show people that they can and must all cooperate. It is my job to enable them to do that.

augustlan's avatar

Daloon, that is an excellent purpose.

Supacase's avatar

Three major events.

1) Becoming suicidal and going to inpatient therapy for a month.

2) Becoming very ill, near death, but pulling through.

3) Having a child. I am responsible for the whole of another human being.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Supacase
I am responsible for the whole of another human being.
No just the care. The rest is up to them

Supacase's avatar

@SeventhSense
No, it’s anything and everything for a while. Once that changes, the care is still quite a large responsibility.

rubes's avatar

There have been many “nudging” experiences in my life, but what I believe my purpose is changes, often. Sometimes it’s to get my writing published, no matter what. The other day it was to be a wildlife vet or zoologist. Today it’s that I was truly meant to go off into the solitude and pray for humanity and the whole wide world. It’s fun to ponder. Maybe I have purpose ADD. Great, thoughtful question.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Loried2008
Lurve for your heart

oreo45's avatar

From the time I could talk, I have always questioned every thing around me, there for my purpose is to learn.

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