Is there purpose, or is there not purpose? That is the question. When we look at the biggest inquiries of all time, the longing for an understanding into what our life’s purpose is stands out as one of the 21st century’s most sought after answers.
Unfortunately, since the Age of Enlightenment the entire backbone of society’s evolution has developed not toward one of spiritual purpose, but on a shaky foundation of material accumulation. We have a pandemic of a lack of purpose that the human psyche is clearly unable to cope with, and it is weighing on our spirit. A recent article I read in the New York Times highlights our “New Age of Anxiety,” touches on just how deeply Western society has been affected by this question of purpose. This topic isn’t touched on in an isolated article; browsing books in this new genre you will see titles that include: on Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety; Hi Anxiety; My Age of Anxiety; and Monkey Mind.
In the New York Time’s article, it was revealed that nearly one third of Americans aged 13-17 are suffering from a clinical diagnosis of anxiety. What does this say about our current state of the planet, when one of the most affluent countries in the world is seeing millions of its adolescents concerned about their mental health?
Mental Health Is Not a Matter of Material Wealth
The first thought that comes to mind is that it is clear that the pursuit of materialism is not the answer to happiness.
Studies continue to show there is almost an inverse correlation between one’s happiness and the amount of their material wealth. This does not mean that all individuals suffering from anxiety are wealthy and materialistic, but there are interesting studies showing that excessive wealth and luxury doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness levels increasing as we accumulate more material goods.
A second concern is certainly the technological invasion that we are all navigating in modern times. I don’t think that it is just my older generation that struggles with the effects of having infinite amounts of information and stimulation bombarding us at all hours of the day. Millennials and the younger generations who were born into a world where they have only known smart phones must be overwhelmed. I can’t help but wonder if the expectation to advertise every thought, action, and perfect image to the world on social media is another leading cause to this spike in anxiety.
In both these points, what is lacking is the sense of purpose in our pursuits and interactions. Both material goods and technology can contribute to positive change, but only when there is meaning and intention. The world is in a crisis fueled by a lack of collective purpose, and people are anxiously wondering what’s next.
Finding a Foundation in a Purposeful Universe
Many individuals feel that the spiritual quest has lost validity because religions aren’t giving twenty-first century answers. What is there that will give us meaning in our lives if both materiality and religion aren’t providing guideposts for community and purpose?
A fundamental place to start in finding our life’s purpose is by asking a more important question: is the universe purposeful?
At the Global Purpose Movement we are putting together an anthology on purpose, with a resounding answer from many different points of view that the universe is, indeed, a purposeful place. One sentence from physicist, philosopher and author, Ervin Laszlo, sums it up succinctly: “Purpose in the universe is a universal truth as well as a source of practical guidance.”
It is the practical guidance that will serve us well to get overcome anxiety. The simple act of replacing the material pursuit with a search for a way to give back and contribute to the well-being of society is a great way to feel empowered and find new meaning in our lives.
Once that has been accomplished we can dive deeper into purpose. It’s critical that society embraces a meaningful and purposeful universe as the foundation of consciousness. To understand that there is intention in the cosmos is to understand that each one of us is meant to contribute to that evolution in some important way. We as human beings are the culmination of this purposeful evolution.
This concept is not foreign. Even when we can’t articulate our need to contribute toward the good of the whole, our soul recognizes this pursuit. When that intention is missing in our lives, anxiety and depression can arise. Once we are aware of our individual purpose, we can better understand how to pursue it at a soulful level. Fortunately, there are many mentors and teachers stepping into soul-base leadership roles helping others to apply their gifts on a deep evolutionary path and inspiring others to take action.
We can begin blossoming into our purposeful selves in three steps. First, it’s important to understand the need for taking responsibility for our purpose. After we embrace this sense of purpose the second step is to develop the tools we need and pursue opportunities to create change. Finally, we must put this purpose into practice by taking action. When we honor our highest selves and embrace cooperation and peace, we can start to heal physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually as a global civilization.