Finding purpose in life seems to be one of the most important of human goals. The goal of finding your ultimate goal. This could be very specific or quite general or fundamental; either way, to have a purpose in life at least makes things interesting.

We’ve spoken about some tips in Re-Evaluating Your Goals. Now we can look at four stages in recognizing your life’s purpose.

  • 1. Everyone begins with a need to preserve self, to keep the body and its basic goals from disintegrating (survival, comfort, pleasure).
  • 2. When bodily safety is no longer in doubt, one may expand one’s horizons to include family, neighbourhood, religious or ethnic groups leading to more complexity even though it usually implies conformity to conventional norms and standards. Many get ‘stuck’ in this mode, not desiring to go beyond.
  • 3. The next step is reflective individualism, turning inward to find new grounds for authority and value. One no longer blindly conforms but develops an autonomous conscience. The main goal becomes the desire for growth, improvement and actualization of potential. Fewer still reach this level.
  • 4. The fourth step, building on all the others, is a final turning away from the self, back toward an integration with others and with universal values. This extremely individualized person willingly merges his interests with those of a larger whole – a cause, an idea, a transcendental entity.

FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE by Mihaly Csiksczentmihalyi

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