When Do You Feel a Sense of Purpose?

When do you feel a sense of purpose?

People might have different answers to this question, but how can we distinguish something worthwhile in our lives? 

Nick Kemp breaks down this idea of having a sense of purpose: it can be the feeling of using one's life in service to other people.

Having a sense of purpose is crucial to our sense of self, and to our well-being. But what does purpose feel like? When do you feel a sense of purpose?

For some people, a sense of purpose might come with a lot of excitement and energy as you’re working on your goals, and maybe you have the feeling of growth. For other people, purpose might generate a state of calmness, where you’re methodical and intentional with what you do. 

For me, I feel a sense of purpose when I express my creative self, or when I express my values. I don’t strictly relate purpose to work. I can feel a sense of purpose in my role as a parent, husband, or as a friend. 

So this idea of feeling a sense of purpose relates strongly to the ikigai concept. If you look at the kanji here behind me, that kanji is read as kan (sense or feeling). So when we feel ikigai, we have the state of ikigai-kan (feeling of ikigai).

Likewise with purpose, we have a sense of purpose. The word for purpose in Japanese is shimei. Sense of purpose is shimei-kan. What’s interesting about this word shimei, there are two kanji characters that make up the word.

If you take the first character, shi, it’s also used for the verb tsukau (to use). Then the second character, mei, is read as inochi (life): one’s life; your life; my life. 

So combined, if we look at the kanji, we could understand that to mean “using one’s life.” So shimei-kan could be the feeling of how you’re using your life. So with that said. How are you using your life in service to other people? 

Because if that’s what you’re doing, perhaps, that’s where you’ll find your strongest sense of purpose.