What Gives You Purpose?

The idea of why you do the things you do, what motivates you to take the actions that you take on a daily, weekly, or yearly basis has a name: purpose.

A purpose can be a very personal thing, and it may be unique to each individual. Some may be motivated by money. Others may want to take care of their family or loved ones. Some strive to save lives, or ease the suffering of others. Or living a life of luxury, or seeking approval of your parents, or fulfilling a need to create, or…

Knowing  your purposes in life and working to achieve them can be a powerful motivating influence. Conversely, not knowing what your purpose is, or being unable to work toward it can lead to a life full of frustration.

What gives you purpose? What are you doing to fulfill that purpose?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? How do you define success? What makes you you? What makes you the happiest?

How Much Is Enough?

Does envy have you trying to “keep up with the Joneses?” Do you have a closet or segment of your home dedicated to barely-used items that now just take up space? Many Americans do a pretty good job at thinking of wants as needs. For instance, many sources note that while the United States holds less than 5% of the world’s population, we consume around a quarter of energy and other resources.

You’d think that with all the extra stuff and the money we use to buy it we must be happier, right? Not according to the World Economic Forum. According to a measure known as the Happiness Index (six significant factors which contribute to happiness), “although the US ranks highly for per capita income, it is only ranked 18th out of 156 countries, substantially below most comparably wealthy nations.”

Of course, per capita income stats are deceiving. Disparity runs deep in America. Millions of people live in deep poverty, not only lacking in material needs, but also the basics of adequate shelter and healthy food. While necessary, charitable responses can only go so far. Some would argue that structural changes are needed to reduce the suffering of the have-nots (e.g. changes to economic assistance, housing, and tax policy).  In other words, more must be asked of the rest of us.

So, how much is enough? This is not simply an economic question. It’s environmental as well.

Humanity is currently consuming resources at a pace faster than the Earth’s ecological systems can renew them. Collectively, we have significantly passed the planet’s regeneration line.

That brings up a couple of important questions for America and Americans: Should there be limits to how much a person, a community, or our country can have or consume? And, if so, should it be up to the individual, our government, or some independent standard to measure if we’ve reached the point of adequate consumption and/or possession?

How much is enough?

Related questions:  How Can We Appreciate Life More?What Material Possession Means The Most To You?What Makes You The Happiest?What Are Our Responsibilities To Others?

What Is The Right Amount Of Emotion?

Emotion can be good; emotion can be bad.

Being emotional is what makes life worth living. The happiness you feel in the presence of a loved one. The satisfaction of a job well done. The beauty of nature. The awe-inspiring stars on a clear night.

All of these experiences are dependent on emotion. You can be inspired, feel joy, suffer from heartache. Without feelings, life would be dull and uninteresting.

And yet, emotion can also lead us astray. Being passionate can blind you to a necessary choice. Grief can overcome you and lead to depression. Extreme feelings can make you easier to manipulate.

It’s not about “good” feelings, like love and joy, vs “bad” feelings, like anger and fear. You will experience negative emotions over the course of your life. It is not practical to pretend they don’t exist. Negative or bad emotions are just as much of a fully-realized emotional life as positive ones are.

No, the real trade-off is between emotion and logic. Logic might help make better decisions, but feelings give flavor to existence. There must be a middle ground. It is important to balance some emotion with some reason.

But how can you find the right balance? How can you make the most of your feelings and fully live your life, but also make rational decisions and think analytically?

What is the right amount of emotion? How can you tell if you have too much? What mechanisms allow you to increase or decrease the emotion you feel every day?

Related questions: Why does music evoke emotion? What is necessary to change your mind? What do you do that you shouldn’t? How does creative expression help us to know ourselves better?