How To Be Purpose-LESS And Still Have A Good Life

the search for purpose

I live on the coast of Ecuador surrounded by beaches and beauty and the natural world.

Life here is simple.

Most days I watch the fishermen as they go out to the sea armed only with the faith that they will bring in a catch.

I watch the women in the market as they arrange their fruit and vegetables to appeal to the passerby concerned only with how they might feed their family.

I watch the children playing in the street with simple things; a ball, a stick, and with each other never noticing anything beyond the game and their playmates.

Life here is uncomplicated.

The other morning I woke up with a deep feeling of emptiness within me.  I felt that my life had no purpose and like a child who had been abruptly abandoned during the night, I was alone.

I stayed in bed and simply experienced this feeling of not having a purpose, of not being able to connect to the meaning behind my life.

I stayed with that feeling the entire day. I didn’t push it away. I didn’t judge it. I simply allowed it to be and observed myself with curiosity as I went about my day feeling like I had no purpose.

I discovered a few things that surprised me.

1. In my interactions with others I was so much more present. I listened differently. I engaged my activities without any attachment to how well I was conducting myself. I simply allowed a natural flow to the interaction and activity without any inner conversation about it.

2. Nothing I engaged was about the end result. There simply wasn’t an end result to get to. There wasn’t anything attached, some achievement or goal or result at the end to be able to say I succeeded. There was simply the moment after moment flow.

3. As I worked with my clients, I completely focused on them, what they were saying, feeling into the story they told. It’s not that I don’t do this already. It was simply a more profound focus that allowed me to listen closely to my intuition. It was so much clearer enabling me to suggest possibilities that I may not have imagined otherwise.

4. I took more breaks aware that my body was asking me to move, to get out of the house and walk around to the beach, to play with the dogs, to enjoy a cold glass of water on the patio.  So often I go hours without moving or without a break but today I could hear and honor the messages my body was sending me.

5. I was more curious about the world around me. I was simply curious, like the curiosity a child feels when she begins to explore her world. There was nothing to measure anything against so I experienced things as if they were new to me.

I remember thinking that small children at play never ask themselves about their purpose.  They engage the world from a place of curiosity and wonder. They’re not concerned about achieving something meaningful or significant.

Was it possible that the need to achieve something meaningful, to have purpose or significance, might actually be getting in the way of enjoying life fully?

In the first moments of the day when I woke up feeling I had no purpose I felt alone, abandoned and anxious.  In staying with that feeling, engaging it with curiosity, I discovered that it’s possible to be happy and have a great life without the need to seek meaning, significance or purpose.

Why does this matter?

Because I think we believe that unless we can point to “a purpose” we feel deficient, empty and lost.

Maybe what we really need is to receive all of life with gratitude, grace, curiosity and wonder, just as it is, like a child exploring her new world, without any inhibitions, assumptions and limitations.

Less struggle, less anxiety.

More inspiration, more creativity.

That evening as I watched the sunset, I simply focused on the colors the sun painted across the sky and reveled in the dancing waves of the ocean meeting the beach. Simply being and breathing filled any emptiness that I experienced that morning. I felt joy and peace.

Nothing else was required.


Photo by Vladislav Muslakov on Unsplash