Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The purpose-less life

Yesterday's Oprah was about the four "blue zones" of the world, where people are more likely to live to be 100 -- and still be healthy and happy. I wasn't all that interested in the topic because nobody in my family seems to die before 95. I have a great uncle who still drives himself to his favorite fishing spots, and he's at least 99. I've got practically immortal genes.

Anyway, so Dr. Oz and his sidekick Dan somebody are listing tips from each of the blue zones: Eat a small dinner, get daily physical activity, drink red wine, blah blah blah. We've heard all this a million times from a million different gurus (including Oprah). But then they said something like "and have a purpose in life. A reason for getting out of bed in the morning."


Huh, a purpose in life, you say? This kind of threw me for a loop. I don't really want to live to be 100, but I can't fight heredity (although I am trying, with my sedentary lifestyle and eating nothing but white foods), and I certainly don't want to be miserable for the next 65 or so years.

I haven't ever thought about my purpose in life before. Until watching Oprah yesterday, I didn't realize I didn't have one (or that it was all that important, honestly). When I was little, my purpose was to get through school, so I could be a grown-up. At 20, it was to finish college and find a job. Once I got my first real job, my purpose (if I even thought of it as such back then) was to work my way up and have a true career.

But a job isn't a purpose. So what is it? According to Steve Pavlina, it's "the very reason you exist." That's kind of serious.

(Who is this Steve Pavlina? Well, his web bio states that he's "widely recognized as one of the most successful personal development bloggers on the Internet, attracting more than two million monthly readers to his website." But the best part is this: "Arrested for felony grand theft at age 19 and expelled from school, the full weight of responsibility for his life came crashing down upon him. In an attempt to overcome his out-of-control kleptomania addiction, he decided the best course of action was to go to work on himself." Now this is a guy I can believe in.)

Steve also says you can find out your life's purpose in 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes! And to think some of you are paying a therapist for this. Steve says to sit down and type out (or write, if you're a Luddite) what you think your purpose is. Once you get to the reason that "makes you cry," that's it!

As ridiculous as that sounds to me, I'm going to give it a shot. My next post will be my, hopefully short, list. And my newfound purpose in life!


  1. I just discovered your blog, and I love it! I'd been a Lipstick reader and am a magazine editor and blog keeper, as well. I worked with Coastal Living for about six months then transitioned to a couple of trade pubs as an associate editor where I just found out I'm getting laid off from next month. Joining the club... Anyway, long story short, I actually did something akin to the exercise you talk about above and - guess what! - I'm moving to downtown Atlanta in August to volunteer full-time with the inner city kids! Just thinking about it makes me cry, and I know it's my purpose, at least for now. Can't wait to check out snippy next! I get called that frequently, so when I saw the story about how it earned its moniker, I knew I had to check it out!

  2. Hi
    I too read your blog, and I have to say that I did try this exercise for finding one's purpose. I was skeptical, but desperate, and prepared to try anything. I only got my list to eight items when I began to cry. I couldn't believe it: it actually works. It seemed that as I was writing, I suddenly got in touch with something deeper inside me; I guess you could say at a spiritual level. Out of interest, I discovered my purpose is "to love." Probably not unique to me, but that's what I discovered. Hope you find yours.