Understanding why we need a life’s purpose.

written by Sarah Colgate

Self Awareness

February 24, 2024

So many of us on the planet want to have a purpose. We want to feel like we are contributing to the world. Maybe it’s about belonging in a world where more than 7 billion people exist.

In the past, I considered a “life purpose” as a really big thing. Something you discovered and then you went off and changed your life. Often this discovery was made while travelling in a remote part of the world or during life’s toughest moments. It was like an unearthing of your soul. That’s kind of a big deal. 

What does it mean to be you?

Well before we get to that I want to share some thoughts about our existence here. 

We are all connected, all humans are connected. Every human on the planet has the same physical being. We have a heart, stomach, bones, tendons, skin, eyes and so on. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, but for the most part we are all the same, just in a variety of shapes, colours and sizes. Whether we are descended from two people or from apes it doesn’t actually matter. We just need to understand that we are all humans. No one is better than another, no human life worth more than another and we are the same. 

What’s different about us is the external forces that have impacted our lives. Where we were born, what language we speak, what life experiences we have had, the size and make up of our family, what education we received, what food we consume and what medical care we receive. These external forces differentiate humans to the point that there are no two people on the planet that are exactly the same. We are unique in every way.

So how do we process that?

We are all the same in one sense and completely different in every other sense. Therefore we have a sense of belonging, a need to participate, connect, engage, achieve in some way and also a need to serve others. 

Our grandparents’ generation was focused on surviving. They had to get through 2 world wars and the depression. It was not easy and the worst case scenario of their lives was never far from their thoughts. You went to church, you cared for your community as much as you could, food was valued, clothes, toys and shoes were often a luxury. They learn to survive and appreciate what little they have.

My parents were post world war 2 babies, they arrived into a world that needed to be rebuilt, reconnected and regenerated. They are the biggest generation in history and represented a new start for everyone. Many of that generation had new starts in new countries and on new continents. Their surroundings changed significantly and the world had been changed forever, fear hung on.  Divisions were created between East and West and a worldwide culture of us and then began to divide humankind like never before in history.

Our parents were raising us in the 70s and 80s and were busy building and differentiating themselves from “them”. Not so much building countries but building themselves, their families, their individual empires of suburban homes, businesses, cars, brands, wealth and learning to live in a capitalist world, the role of the west and the world of us.

What about us?

While we were growing up the focus was on the outside world, the potential threats to our way of life and the media and technology brought that into our homes. We consumed brands, they defined us, ownership of things and valued possessions were an acknowledgment to our success, travel was a status symbol and he/she who had the most things and the most money was at the top of the world. 

Today we have every piece of information and every product is at our fingertips, we can buy almost anything or a rip off version that looks real. We don’t actually know what’s real and what’s not. Everything is fake! We no longer need to look for educated people to guide us or books to inspire us. Everyone is educated, everyone is telling us what we need to do in our lives, how to be successful, how to be skinny, how to be happy. We no longer need to consume food, shop or acquire like we did in the 80s and 90s. We now consume information, tv episodes, videos, podcasts, ebooks, audio books and so much more.

Due to COVID we are not travelling like we did in the 2000s or early 2010. Our sense of adventure and desire to discover new things is no longer driven by consumption, by foods, by shopping; now it’s driven by connection, by nature, by experiences and the creation of transformation through discovery.

But what happens when that ends? What do we do now? 

We will start to look at ourselves, we look at how we can live a better life,  how we can improve our life each and every day. How can we be happier and healthier? We are looking at ourselves, our human experience and how we can enrich that. 

We have realised that the answers aren’t out there in the world. They are not in a product, a brand or a food.  If we want a better life experience we need to look at ourselves, our thoughts and our actions. How we connect and engage with other humans. 

We look for our purpose, the reason we are on this planet. 

  • We want to know what a better life looks like. 
  • We all want to matter and feel like we belong or we contribute in one way or another. 
  • We all want to feel like we are on this earth for a reason. 
  • We want to know we are waking up tomorrow for a reason that isn’t, about buying, eating, consuming and building wealth.

This is so important to me and my kids’ generation. My kids’ generation will inherit more money and wealth than any generation before them. Over the next 20 years, the baby boomers will leave behind $224 billion a year just in Australia, says the AFR. 

So what do you achieve in life when you have everything money can buy and you know in your soul that money is not the answer. What then? You look for a life purpose, your reason to get up in the morning.

We need to help the current generations find their life purpose so they stay connected, solve the world’s problems, save the planet and live fulfilling lives.

My question is how do we help them do that?

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