The Purpose of a Purpose

If we possess our why of life we can put up with almost any how. – Friedrich Nietzche

Whether we’d like to confront it or not, we do exist with a purpose. Identifying that purpose is the most difficult part, and it’s unique to every person. It could be small or broad, permanent or temporary. It could be working to better your children’s lives, to make your family proud, or even to better the living conditions and rights of all of mankind. But what does establishing a purpose even do for us? How does living with a purpose affect our lifestyle and choices?

For one, the character Kikuchiyo from the movie Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa finds a purpose when he has to work with the other samurai to protect the farms. As an orphaned boy whose parents were farmers, he empathizes with the farmers more than the other samurai. He understands the reason behind farmers’ nature and helps the other samurai understand who they are fighting for. Before he met the other samurai, he was a wandering, drunk, violent ronin. He was a ‘wild dog’ when the samurai first met him. As he trains the villagers and spends time with the children, he becomes more organized, honorable, and kind. He finds his place in a community with a common goal of protecting the village. 

Like Kikuchiyo, Bojack Horseman is lost at first. Throughout his life, Bojack carries his selfish mindset, destructive behavior, and entitlement wherever he goes. His parents resent one another and resent him for being born. At the peak of his career as a sitcom actor, he reaches an age of stagnation. He stops developing as a person and stays the same from his twenties into adulthood. He is disconnected and unempathetic. He disregards the people in his life, doesn’t fight for anything, and after his show ends, he does nothing. He has no goals, hobbies, friends, and nothing is important to him. For years, he merely indulges in alcohol, sex, and drugs without regard for consequence or those close to him. The show progresses as Bojack slowly realizes the effects of his harmful actions and behaviors. The audience watches him try and barely succeed to drag himself out of the tar pit of addiction and narcissism. He finds meaning and purpose in making peace with himself and others and apologizing for what he’s done throughout his life. His new peaceful and healthy lifestyle is a result of becoming self-aware and attributing purpose to his life. 

On the other hand, identifying a purpose could possibly be harmful. Siddhartha once said, “All are subservient…wish to obey and think little. People are children.” The following mindset when taken advantage of is nothing short of dangerous. When people blindly follow the reckless and merely reiterate the values of their leaders and not of their own, rationalism and self-awareness are gone. The choices that are made are dangerous and selfish. If being a follower is your purpose in life or one of your purposes in life, be sure to choose your leader wisely. 

Additionally, Humanists also have a common goal of the betterment of human rights and accomplishments. The Humanist Society’s slogan, “Good without a God,” is intended to show that people can do good things without a belief in god. The organization is associated with multiple charities and provides opportunities for its members to help in the community. It also makes efforts to improve education, provide aid to those in need, and separate church and state to minimize the bias of the legal system. By recognizing their purpose and their progressive values, the members of the organization are able to improve the education system, help those in need, bring attention to religion in the legal system, and overall maintain a selfless lifestyle.

Being able to identify a purpose in life affects our lifestyle and choices because of the clarity and sense of direction it provides. It attributes meaning to our everyday lives and gives us something to work toward rather than existing aimlessly. Identifying a purpose in life will allow us to look at life through a new lens and possibly view obstacles as surmountable. With our purpose, we will be able to put up with almost any how.

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