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 Do You Choose A Hobby?

The hobbies we have say a lot about us. A job you might do for the money, to support yourself and your family. But the hobby you choose to do with your free time, what you might even spend money and effort to do, says something about who you are as a person.

Time is ultimately a limited resource for every one of us. You might make a lot of money, you can surround yourself with people who love you, you can educate yourself with class after class. You can control most of your other resources, but the resource of time is fundamentally limited.

So how we choose to spend our time is crucially important. What you do when you have the opportunity to do whatever you like might just be the closest you get to your true self.

Of course, the actual hobbies can vary quite drastically from person to person. Some people might have just one or two hobbies, some might have a hundred. They can be active or passive, they might involve others or just yourself. You might need intellectual stimulation after a day of drudgery, or maybe your brain needs some relaxing time after working hard all day. Maybe some of the hobbies you have are healthy, and maybe some of them are destructive.

Given how important hobbies are in our lives, we probably spend less time thinking about them than we should.

So have you given any thought to your personal list of hobbies? Have you thought about why you do what you do or why you like what you like? Are the various hobbies you have related in any way? What needs that you have are being met by your hobbies? Conversely, what needs are not being met that could be with the right hobby?

How do you choose a hobby?

Related questions: What are your favorite hobbies? Why do we like what we like? What makes you you? What makes you the happiest?

How Are You Special?

On the PBS show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, host Fred Rogers regularly looked into the camera and spoke directly to the viewer. “You are special,” he would affirm.

This was a powerful message to the audience of children, who were most likely not used to hearing such a thing from an adult, particularly one on television.

The underlying idea, that each individual is special and important, is also useful for adults. Too often, it is easy to be a cog in a machine at work, or overwhelmed as a spouse or as a parent at home. Sometimes, we need a simple reminder of our own specialness.

Give it some thought. What can you do better than anything else? What sets you apart from those around you? In what ways are you important? How are you special?

Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? Why do we feel the need to belong? What makes you you? How can we build confidence? Why is love important?

How Do You Think Others See You?

When I turned 30, I asked my friends to provide a one word description of my best feature or my most prominent characteristic. I was curious about what they appreciated about my personality and the way I acted. While I considered myself fairly self-aware, I wanted to know if my friends saw me the same way I saw myself.

Before I started to get responses, I expected that the answers would fall into two or three broad categories. In my own mind, I was smart, I was funny, and I was friendly.

Once the answers started to roll in, however, I was surprised. In all, I asked maybe 30 people, and I got 30 different answers. While I didn’t expect that every response would be different, the thing that really astonished me was the wide variety of answers. Loyalty, eyes, conversation, creativity, honesty, goofiness. They did not easily fit into the categories I envisioned.

Different people value different things. It took me 30 years to learn this lesson, but it was a major step in expanding my empathy skills. Now I regularly try to view how other people might see the world, including how I fit into it.

I also learned something else from this exercise: every relationship I have is unique. While I might be a constant to my relationships, each person I interact with brings their own personality, their own experiences, their own vantage point to our mutual association.

Which brings me to this week’s question: How do you think others see you? How would you like them to see you? What can you do to change how others see you? Are you externally self-aware?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What do we have in common? What makes you you? How do you judge yourself?