There are all sorts of things that can give you fleeting happiness—a chocolate cake, a good golf game, a walk in the autumn woods. But if you want to experience true and lasting happiness, you must discover who you are meant to be and become your authentic self. Some people know this in their inner core from the time they’re young. Others never find it.

Some people may know their purpose but never pursue it because life gets in the way. I have a friend who wanted to write novels her entire life, but she always put her dream on hold. After all, she had to make a living. She had to raise children and feed her family. And those are all noble and worthy pursuits. They may even be a central purpose for some. But in her case, they got in the way of her becoming her authentic self.

More often, though, people don’t know what their purpose in life is. If you don’t know your purpose, how can you find it? Often we’re told we must pursue our dreams, but most of us don’t have a clue of what we should do with our lives. If we can discover what’s important to us and what gives our life meaning, then we can pursue it.

If You Want To Be Happy, Find Your Purpose Nancy'S Counseling Corner

Here are some ideas for finding your purpose.

If you were told you’d die in a year, how would you spend your time? There’s nothing like the prospect of losing your life to put your time on earth into sharp relief. What you should do with life while you have it? What would you like your legacy to be? How would you like people to talk about you when you’re gone? What are the stories people will tell about you? You can shape that narrative while you’re still alive. Ask yourself what you want your narrative to be and then act accordingly.

Take action to find your passion. After all, you can only have a vague idea of what it’s like to be a concert pianist if you get off your behind and take piano lessons. If you want to be a senator, try running for local office. Maybe you don’t know you want to be a senator but you have an interest in politics. Get involved, and then, over time, you may discover that you want to be a senator. Finding your passion is often a long journey, and you have to be willing to take the first step, however small it may be. It’s far too easy to Tweet or post or fritter your time away in any number of distractions. But that is no way to find your purpose. If you want to do that, take action.

Know you’ll have to tolerate some crap. Just because you’re fulfilling your dream, it doesn’t mean it will be a bed of roses all the time. So you have to know what you have the ability to tolerate when you’re pursuing your dream. My friend who wanted to write novels had to be able to work in isolation for long periods of time. She had to have the patience to edit and re-edit seemingly endlessly. And if she wanted her work published, she had to suffer through trying to sell her work. But to her, this was all worth it because writing a novel was her passion.

Whatever it is you want to do will come at a cost. If you’re unwilling to pay that cost, then maybe it’s not your dream after all. But when you’re finding your purpose, your passion won’t necessarily fall into your lap. You may need to do some work to find it.



Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: