Live For A Purpose Bigger Than Yourself

Live For A Purpose Bigger Than Yourself

I was at an evangelical Christian wedding last year and the groom’s father made an interesting point in what was a very inspiring speech. He said the marriage was going to be strong because it would exist for a purpose bigger than itself, it would exist for God.

In the past I know I would have thought that this was stupid because I have never been a big fan of religion. I’m still not a fan of religion but now I understand the benefits of living for something greater than yourself. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as you are living for something you receive some major benefits.

This is not about how to find your life’s purpose. This is an argument as to why you should look within yourself and find one, if you do not have one already. Life is better when you have a purpose that goes beyond your own material needs.

Dare To Be Great

All the great people in history have lived for a strong purpose. It may be religious, political, for civili rights, or for any cause. Great people, the ones we remember, are those who made great personal sacrifices for what they believed to be a great cause. Jesus, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa are famous examples.

The reason I found this so applicable to the idea of marriage is that I do think a higher purpose insulates you from some of the troubles in a relationship. There is a concept in personal development called finding your “true north.” It means identifying with certain values, beliefs or behaviors that come from within that are going to remain constant regardless of what turbulence is going on around you in life. It keeps you grounded even when you are having issues with relationships, career, money or anything else.

It is those for whom their marriage is the great purpose in their life that are going to fall on seriously tough times if it falls apart. It is those who live for their career that are going to have issues when they are made redundant. People who have something greater that drives them can dodge life’s obstacles a lot easier.

Living for a higher purpose goes beyond insulating yourself from a relationship break up or a career failure. It is a reason to be passionate about life, a reason to get up in the morning. It is something to contribute to the world and something that gives you immense satisfaction. It is the kind of thing you want to be remembered for when you die.

Live A More Satisfying Life

It’s not just about making the world a better place. Living for a cause makes your life better.

This does not have to be something massive or earth changing or even particularly charitable. You do not have to be Ghandi. It just has to be something that you are living for beyond your immediate circumstances.

For me it is the philosophies espoused in the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. This book is a bit of an underground classic but not all that well known. However I believe that in it are some of the best solutions to all the modern day crises such as economic, environmental and energy. That one book holds the key in my opinion. I am supremely passionate about it and I make sacrifices and work hard to spread its message. I get excited by it and find great satisfaction. I feel like if I died tomorrow I would die having contributed something to the world.

Even if you are not Ghandi your passionate promotion of a cause may be the spark that ignites someone else who then goes on to become the next Ghandi. There is a butterfly effect going on here, and you can have a profound impact on the world unintentionally and without realizing it.

Anybody can live for a greater cause. We are all great in our own way. And there are personal benefits. It makes you humble, it connects you to others and it builds empathy. If makes you passionate and inspiring. It makes you interesting. Most of all it makes life more fun and worth living.

Living a purpose driven and goal driven life is more exciting that sleep walking through life. You can shape the direction and shape the purpose rather than living on someone else’s whim.

Photo by h.koppdelaney

Brad Alexander

Brad Alexander is committed to helping young men grow up and transition from boy to man at his website Badass Young Men. This is a difficult phase in modern society for young men and Brad discusses topics from career and relationships to overcoming insecurity.

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23 Comments

  1. Great post. I think that the concept of a “purpose driven life” is too often associated to organized religion, particularly Rick Warren’s brand of Christianity (to which I do subscribe). Pointing out the necessity to see something bigger than yourself either values, principles, or whatever is a powerful factor in change and facing diffiuclty. Thanks for the great post.

    Just to let you know, your Amazon link didn’t work. If its an affiliate link, you may want to take a look at it as you have raised interest in the book Ishmael.

    Reply
    • Sam: I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the post. Thanks for letting me know about the Amazon link – it’s now fixed.

      Brad: thanks for the guest post.

      Peter

      Reply
  2. Excellent reminder for us all – I believe this loss of connection to something larger is why so many of us hit fifty and say, “What have I done for the past thirty years?” We’ve been so busy we’ve forgotten why we do what we do.

    As I am making some big changes in my life, this blog reminded me why I’m making them. And, on certain days of complete panic, messages like this help.:)

    Really enjoyed this!

    Donna

    Reply
    • Yes Donna, guilty!!! Actually having an ongoing dialogue with myself forces me to question what I’m doing and why. Unravelling the chaos to get to this point has been the best thing I’ve ever done but could never have achieved it without the help of a fabulous lifecoach. We are all so good at lying to ourselves that objective, non emotional perspective is imperative for real lasting change.

      Reply
  3. Wonderful thoughts to live by Brad!

    Living life as an adventure with purpose and passion is a grand thing. I like to say that I live in truth by being aligned to my GOD which is certainly much bigger than me….When my thoughts are aligned with his will and I accept life as it is and the circumstances that happen as moments of impact life gets simple.

    In living in the adventure of life,
    Nancy

    Reply
  4. These are beautiful sentiments but I’m afraid I disagree. You cannot live for a bigger purpose than yourself….you are the purpose, you are the force and you are the creator…of a unique destiny.
    Gandhi was a man who faced self-imposed austerities and aspired to spiritual greatness long before it translated into social justice.
    I believe that prayer is necessary for those who are still seekers….one make your life a prayer you will become the prayer.

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  5. Ive been separated with my husband for three years after 11 years of marriage.. And we are now in a situation where we would like to reconcile and give it a second chance… Last January 28,2012 was our 14th wedding anniversary.. I would like to extend my deep gratitude for the post , for it will help us a lot to rekindle the love and devotion that we used to have as a couple. Hoping us goodluck , and i pray that will be together again !

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  6. Thank you for the great post as well as book reference.Have added to my reading list :)

    Reply
  7. This post has come in good time for me. I so much want to follow in what I believe in and have been working hard and making certain sacrifices of recent. I truly believe that if we keep pursuing our dreams and passions eventually what may have seem impossible in the past becomes a brighter light as we progress. I have enjoyed many successes this year of which are a result of hard work and dedication with what I believe in. Life challenges can put a stop to the momentum should we decide to allow it. This post reminds us that regardless of the troubles the journey to living our purpose may bring it is all worth while. The challenges will always present positive learnings to help us progress in life faster than having things just all too easy. So it is important to appreciate the journey to living your purpose. Many thanks for this great inspiring post Brad :)

    Reply
  8. Thank you very much for the post, I has given me some new thoughts of how to look at things in life

    Reply
  9. Having a strong vision of what is still beyond the today’s horizon, seeing the big picture of things and being committed to the highest good of others is what I understand under living with a big purpose. Thank you so much for this post, it resonates in me.

    Reply
  10. The first few lines really resonated with me. Although you don’t have any religious affiliations, I do. I’m Muslim, and that isn’t always portrayed in the media as being conducive to living a life of purpose (unless as the media says, that purpose is the mass murdering of people-it’s not). The Qu’ran says that our whole lives are to Allah (to God), just as that man from the wedding said that the marriage would be for God, we also believe that everything we do from going to college and getting a degree to choosing where to send your kids to elementary school is for God. That post has re-reminded me of why I do what I do, and why I should constantly strive to do it with excellence. I pray you find the truth and accept it as such.

    Reply
  11. thank you for sharing this post

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  12. Inspiring words, Brad. Like this phrase in particular — “This does not have to be something massive or earth changing or even particularly charitable. You do not have to be Ghandi.” One of the biggest reasons people don’t think about a larger purpose is that it seems like too grand of a thing for an ordinary person. Another reason is that it can be hard to slow down long enough, especially in today’s world, to reflect on a big question like that. Now that you’ve made the case for why we need a purpose, would be interested in your thoughts on how to find it — and also how it can evolve as we get older and gain more experience.

    Reply
  13. You have a great blog! I found it awhile back and then lost it. I found it again and now I’ve marked it as a favorite, so I won’t lose it again. Just enjoyed browsing through your recent posts. I really related to the last one about reading all those books and looking for the answer “out there.” I still like to read, but I know the only answer I’m going to find is inside. It’s like all the things I read about meditating, and then finally figured out I really needed to sit down and meditate. Anyway, looking forward to being a regular reader.

    Reply
  14. We were talking about this with friends last night. Too many people are obsessed with fame, as if that is the best way to achieve an everlasting impact upon the world. The butterfly effect – being someone who bolsters, empowers and encourages others holds a lot more value and leaves a great legacy.

    Reply
  15. living for a greater purpose – that helped me a lot today. I’m really really down, and wonder if my busying back and forth everyday mattered. sometimes i get so tired of trying to recover from my illness. but perhaps i exist for a greater purpose, and to keep that in mind when i want to give up
    thanks
    Noch Noch

    Reply
  16. I enjoyed this very much and found it useful and applicable. I think living for a higher purpose keeps many people going whether they realize it or not. This insight may have uncovered and given light to some of the frustrations in my own life.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  17. Thank you. I find I have been wondering what my true purpose is. But I feel you are right. I have great determination to find freedom in my life. And the past year I have been really going forth to achieve it. I have found many hurdles and obstacles but I have kept determined. And even the times when I start to question my self I find a way to keep focussed and I am really starting to see results. I really do feel this is my purpose. And the more I share it, the more I find I am helping people.

    I did wonder what my life purpose was, but I think your point sums it up, ‘This does not have to be something massive or earth changing or even particularly charitable. You do not have to be Ghandi. It just has to be something that you are living for beyond your immediate circumstances.’

    Great, inspiring read. Thank you.

    Reply
  18. Hi all

    I appreciate all the comments and am glad that people have taken something positive away from this.

    Cheers
    Brad

    Reply
  19. You said ,” Living a purpose driven and goal driven life is more exciting that sleep walking through life.” I agree on that. Life without a purpose is boring and heartbreaking. People who doesn’t have goals or purpose are the ones who doesn’t have ambitions or dreams. They said, ” You must dream based on your limitation. I don’t think so. Our Life is a gift from God and it is our responsibility to live it to the fullest. Our gift to God is to make life wonderful. So guys stop wasting your time in doing nothing. Remember what Albert Einstein said,” Nothing happens until something moves.”

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  20. I think having a greater purpose is what makes us more than just animals

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  21. Thanks for sharing the subject. Interesting article! I never thought of putting a personal LIFETIME purpose. What I have realised over time is that I’ve always focused my thoughts over material goals (which brought no hapiness and true fulfillment once achieved). Now my focus is to how can I create a positive impact and living by it? It’s my new journey ;)!

    Reply

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