In their book, The Good Life, professors Waldinger and Schulz make an unassailable argument that to be happy in life humans need healthy, intimate relationships. I affirm that, but I would add at least one more factor: To be happy in life, humans need purpose. We need a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
We know what purpose is so I’ll not spend time on that topic. A more difficult, puzzling topic is: Why do some people have purpose in life and some don’t? While some people have enough vision, purpose and drive for three lifetimes, many people don’t. Is it a rare gene? Why do some people constantly need a push from behind—-they need to be “motivated”—-while others bemoan not having enough hours in the day to get it all done? Are some people born with a predisposition toward purpose and motivation while others will never have it?
The older I get, the more I’m convinced that some people have it and some don’t, and the ones that don’t probably never will. It truly saddens me to come to this conclusion and I’m happy for you to push back and argue that I’m wrong.
I don’t think it’s a matter of childhood environment, training, or coaching. Two siblings, born into the same family and raised in the same environment, can be treated the same and have similar opportunities and challenges, but one finds purpose and is driven toward it and the other one doesn’t.
Through the years I’ve tried training and coaching people relative to developing vision, but if the seed is not there, it does no good to water and cultivate the soil. But, if the seed is there, it responds well to water and cultivation.
I think purposelessness can contribute to depression, whereas being excited about the future and being engaged in meaningful planning and activity is an antidote.
I want to end this post with a hint of optimism and hope. If you don’t have purpose in life, keep searching. Stories abound of people who found purpose later in life. If it still doesn’t come, just commit to living a steady and useful life. Even if you never sense a unique purpose for your life, carry on.
4 Replies to “Everyone needs a reason to get out of bed in the morning”
Some call it a “why” as in what’s your why? I tried retirement and flunked miserably which is why I went back to work. I guess my “why” is being pf service to others and making a difference in their lives in an area that is vexing and frustrating for most of us yet at the same time is simple and straightforward when one sheds light on it in a correct and understandable way. My only issue with where I am now is that I didn’t discover it years ago.
David, I’m so glad you’re in a sweet spot, enjoying what you’re doing. Having a “why” is so important. Take care, Don.
I wonder if Christians or people who believe in a higher being are more inclined to have purpose? As a Christian, I know I will have to give an account of my life. How did I spend my time, my money and my skills?
Currently, I am seeking a new purpose having retired from my much loved job at the end of March. Our church has been running a SHAPE course (identifying a person’s experience, ability, spiritual gifts and heart’s desire). I still have to complete the last stage but I hope it will give me some clues as to my future purpose. I don’t want to be a square peg in a round hole.
I am not sure whether I agree that this is not an element of nurture. I have seen my grandson discouraged at school and he doesn’t have the same desire to please as he once had. He wanted to fly but now it is as if his wings have been clipped.
I definitely agree with your statement that purposelessness can contribute to depression. This can be as a result of an employer who doesn’t give an employee an opportunity to shine but just wants the same boring output from them day after day and doesn’t reward creative input.
I have just ordered Rick Warren’s Created to Dream: The 6 Phases God Uses to Grow Your Faith and maybe it will help me to believe I can deliver on my dreams.
Angela, I am happy to hear you say “your much loved job.” Many people can’t say that. I’ll be thinking of you as you discover the next thing God has for you to do. Whatever it is, you will do it well. Take care, Don.