7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose
Most of us don’t know what we want from our lives even after we graduate from school. Even after we have a job. Even after we make money, between the ages of 18 and 25, I changed my career aspirations more frequently than I changed my underwear. Even after starting my own business, it took me four more years to figure out what I wanted in life. It is a common struggle that almost all adults go through. I get emails often from people in their 50s and 60s asking me what I would like to do with my life.
The Problem with Looking for a “Life Purpose”.
The concept of “life purpose” is part of the problem. It is the idea that each of us was created for a higher purpose and that it is now our cosmic mission to find it. This logic is used to justify spirit crystals and the fact that 34 is your lucky number (but only on Tuesdays and during full moons).
This is the truth. For an undetermined time, we exist here on earth. We do many things during that time. Some of these are very important. Some of these are not important. Those important things are what give life meaning and bring us happiness. The less important things essentially waste time.
When people ask, “What should my life look like?” or “What’s my purpose in life?” the truth is that they are asking: This is a far better question. This question is much easier to manage and doesn’t carry all the baggage of the “life purpose” questions. You don’t need to sit on your couch and contemplate the cosmic significance in your life while eating Doritos. Instead, get up and discover what is important to you.
People often ask me questions about their life and what their “life purpose” is. It is a difficult question to answer. This person may be into knitting kitten sweaters or making gay bondage porn videos in their basement. I don’t know
After some research, I’ve put together a set of questions that will help you determine what is most important. These questions are not exhaustive nor definitive. They’re actually a bit absurd. They’re a bit ridiculous, but I did it because finding purpose in life should be fun and interesting, not a chore.
You may be looking for your dream job or thinking about starting a second profession. Or maybe you don’t want your whole life to be filled with “what if…”. Hopefully, you will find meaningful answers to these absurd but still thought-provoking questions.
1:- Which Shit Sandwich Flavor is Your Favorite? Does it Come with an Olive?
What shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because eventually, we all get served one.
Sacrifice is a part of everything. Everything involves some form of cost. There is no joy or happiness all the time. The question is: What sacrifice will you be willing to make? What determines our ability or inability stay with something we care about is our ability and willingness to endure the bad times and get through the good days.
You won’t succeed if you can’t deal with failure if you want to become a tech entrepreneur. If you don’t want to see your work rejected hundreds of times, if not thousands, you won’t be able to become a professional artist. If you are a talented court lawyer but cannot stand the 80-hour workweeks, I have bad news.
Which shit sandwich would you like to eat? We all get one at some point. Your competitive advantage is your favourite shit sandwiches. You have a tremendous advantage if you are willing to do something that you love doing that others don’t want to do. Find your favourite shit sandwich. You might also want to try one with olives.
2:- What is True about You Today that Would Make Your 8-Year Old Self Crumble?
Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it. And the transactional nature of the world inevitably stifles us and makes us feel lost or stuck.
As a child, I loved to write stories. I remember spending hours in my room writing about aliens, superheroes, great warriors, and my family. It wasn’t because I wanted it to be read by anyone. It wasn’t because I wanted to impress teachers or parents. It was for pure joy.
Then, for some unknown reason, I stopped. I can’t recall why. All of us tend to lose touch with the things we loved as children. The social pressures of adolescence and the professional pressures of young adulthood take the passion out. We are taught that if we get rewarded for doing something, then it is the only reason we should do it. The world’s transactional nature inevitably makes us feel trapped or lost.
It wasn’t until my 20s when I discovered how much I love writing, that I realized this. It wasn’t until my business was started that I realized how much I loved building websites. This was something I did as a hobby in my teens.
It’s funny, though, that my eight-year-old self would ask my twenty-year-old self, “Why don’t we write anymore?” Not only would I be wrong, but the eight-year old-boy me would probably have started to cry. The eight-year-old boy didn’t care much about Google traffic, social media virality, or book advances. He wanted to play. Passion always starts with a sense that play is important.
3:- What makes you forget to eat and poop?
Look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you. Because they can easily be applied elsewhere.
All of us have had the experience of getting so involved in something that minutes quickly turn into hours and hours into “Holy crap! I forgot to eat dinner!” According to some, Isaac Newton’s mother would have to remind him to eat when he was in his prime. He would be so consumed in his work that he would forget to eat for entire days.
That was how I was with video games. This was probably not a good thing. It was actually a problem for many years. It was a problem for me to sit down and play video games instead of studying, showering, or talking to other people face-to-face.
I didn’t realize my passion for games until I quit them. My passion is improvement and being good at something, then trying to improve. Although I enjoyed the games, their stories and graphics, they were not my favourite part. It is the competition I have with myself and others that I thrive on. Things took off when I applied my obsessiveness about self-improvement to my business and my writing.
Perhaps it’s something completely different for you. It could be organizing things efficiently, getting lost in fantasy land, teaching someone something, or solving technical issues. It doesn’t matter what it is, don’t look just at the activities that keep you awake at night. Take a look at the cognitive principles behind the activities that intrigue you. They can be easily applied elsewhere.
4:- How can you embarrass yourself more?
Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it.
You must first be a sucker at something before becoming good at it and doing something worthwhile. This is pretty obvious. It would help if you were embarrassed in some way, often multiple times, to make yourself look bad at something. People try to avoid embarrassing their own selves because it is so painful.
You will not feel important if you avoid any potential embarrassment. It seems like vulnerability is the culprit once again. You have a desire to do something right now. There are reasons. These reasons are yours. What are these reasons? You’re going to be a big fool if you base your reasons on what other people would think. Your reasons might be, “I cannot start a business because I spend time with my children more important than my music,” or “Playing Starcraft all the day would likely interfere with my music, which is more important for me,” then that’s okay. That sounds good.
If your reasons are “My parents would hate,” “My friends will make fun of it,” or “If my attempt fails, I’d look like an idiot,” then you are probably avoiding something that you really care about. Because caring about that thing is what scares you the most, not what Timmy next door or mom thinks.
The best things are unique and unorthodox by nature. To achieve great things, one must resist the herd mentality. It is terrifying to do this. Accept your embarrassment. You can feel foolish, but that is part of the journey to something meaningful and important. You will need to make a life-altering decision if you are scared.
5:- How are you going to save the world?
You’re not going to fix the world’s problems by yourself. But you can contribute and make a difference. And that feeling of making a difference is ultimately what’s most important for your own happiness and fulfillment.
The world is facing some serious problems if you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately. By “a few problems”, I really mean everything has been fucked, and we will all die. This is something I have repeatedly stressed, as well as the research. To live a happy, healthy life, we must be able to hold onto values greater than our personal pleasures or satisfaction.
Pick a problem you are passionate about and get involved in saving the world. There are many options. There are many options. Hell, I just read an article about sex trading in the US. It got me all excited and made me wish I could do something. It also made my breakfast miserable.
Start solving a problem that you are passionate about. You can’t solve all the problems in the world by yourself, but you can help. You can make a difference and contribute. That feeling of making an impact is what you need to be happy and fulfilled. Important equal purpose. I can see what you are thinking. “Gee, Mark! I’ve read all this awful stuff, and I get pissed too. But that doesn’t translate into action or a new career path.
6:- Gun to your head: If you had to leave the house all day, every day, where would you go, and what would you do?
Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-by-fire process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.
Many of us see complacency as the enemy. We fall into routines. We are distracted. The couch is very comfortable. The Doritos are very cheesy. It is nothing new. Most people don’t realize that passion is not the cause but the result of the action. Finding your passions in life is a difficult process. It’s a full-contact sport that requires a lot of trial and error. Only after we do an activity will we know how we feel about it.
Ask yourself this question: If someone put a gun on your head and made you leave your home every day except for sleep, what would you do? You can’t just sit down in a coffee shop browsing Facebook. You most likely already do this. Let’s pretend that there are no useless websites or video games. Think back to the 90s, when Facebook, Instagram and all that social media clusterfuck we spend half of our lives on were not yet invented. You must be out of your house every day, doing something active until you get to bed.
Register for a dance class Joins a book club. Get a second degree. Invent a new irrigation system that will save thousands of lives in rural Africa. How to hang glide? What would you do with all that time? Which activity would you prefer over all others? There are only 24 hours in each day. So, we return to the important question we should all be asking:
7:- What would you do if you knew that one year from today, you’d die?
Ultimately, death is the only thing that gives us perspective on the value of our lives. Because it’s only by imagining your non-existence that you can get a sense of what is most important about your existence.
Many of us hate thinking about death. It scares us. However, there are many practical benefits to thinking about our own deaths. One of these advantages is that it forces you to focus on what’s really important and distracting.
While in college, I would walk around asking people, “If you had one year to live, what would it be?”. As you can see, they were a big hit at parties. Many people answered the question with boring and vague answers. I was almost spat on by a few people. It did make people reevaluate their priorities.
Death is ultimately the only thing that can give us perspective about the value of our life. It’s only through imagining your death that you can see the most important things about your life. What will your legacy be? What stories will people tell about you when you’re gone? What will your obituary say? Do you have anything to add? What would you like to hear? What can you do to get started today in this direction?
You’re not doing well if you imagine your obituary containing a bunch of badass shit and impressing a bunch of random people. People feel lost and confused when they don’t have a sense of purpose or direction in their lives. This is because they don’t know their values.
You are essentially adopting other people’s values and following other peoples’ priorities. This is a way to end unhealthy relationships and eventual misery. Finding one’s “purpose in life” boils down to finding the one or two things greater than you and larger than others, values that will guide your decisions and priorities. It is not about achieving great success but simply finding a way to use your limited time. To do this, you need to get up from your couch and move. It would help if you also took the time to think outside of yourself and, paradoxically, imagine a world without you.