The secret of living a happy life is to live a purposeful life.
What is ‘purpose’?
You are a tool of humanity. Your ‘purpose’ is how you can best use your skills, talents, and strengths to empower the rest of humanity.
The problem in modern society is that we don’t know what our purpose is in life. Many of us have difficulty getting out of the bed in the morning, because life seems so pointless (nihilism).
I don’t think that we are born with a purpose. Rather, you must define purpose for yourself.
The exciting thing about purpose is that you have the control to dictate your own purpose in life. And you can also have many different purposes in life — because you are a multifarious individual, with lots of different skills, strengths, and talents.
How do I know what my purpose is in life?
To start off, you don’t ‘discover’ your purpose in life, you DICTATE your purpose in life.
The reason I don’t like the idea of ‘discovering’ your purpose is that it assumes you have 1 hidden and secret purpose in life, and somehow you must discover it like a hidden treasure.
The reason I prefer ‘DICTATING’ your purpose in life is that you have more control. By being able to DICTATE your purpose in life, you can do the following:
- You can dictate multiple purposes in life
- You don’t let others in society dictate your purpose for yourself in life (in other words, ignore what your parents, teachers, and the rest of society wants you to do in your life)
- You can decide to change your purpose in life whenever you want to.
Before we empower others, we must first empower ourselves.
Just think about it: If we are not strong enough to carry ourselves, how can we also carry the weight of ourselves on our back?
But what does it even mean to ’empower’ ourselves?
We empower ourselves by:
1. Addressing our personal fears in life, and not letting these personal fears get in the way of us taking positive action in our lives.
2. Financial strength: For example, getting out of debt, building a savings, lowering expenses, and increasing income.
3. Dictating our purpose in life (Knowing why we wake up in the morning, and dedicating some time everyday on our purpose in life).
Challenge Your Belief-Systems
We should not let others dictate our purpose in life. We must also not allow others to superimpose their morals, ethics, and belief-systems on us.
For example, in modern Western-society, almost all of our morals are derived from the Christian faith. This includes compassion, charity, equality, and good works.
Many of us blindly follow the values/belief-systems dictated on us by society. But we must examine our own values and belief-systems, and determine whether we truly desire to follow them or not.
For example, I was born and baptized a Catholic, and thus learned Christian values as a child growing up (I went to Sunday School, Boy Scouts, and grew up in America). As I got older, I began to challenge my beliefs, and after a lot of self-reflection, I discovered I actually liked my Catholic-Christian-American belief system. Of course, there are many parts of the Christian faith I don’t agree with– and these are things I simply ignore.
Why Empower Others?
We all think it is “obvious” that you must be a good person and help others. But if you study history, that is not always the case (study the History of the Peloponnesian war by Thucydides, and we will know that the history of mankind has been brutal, full of war, and strife). The concept of being a ‘good person’ that helps others is a relatively modern one.
For myself, it kind of doesn’t make a sense to live your entire life just for yourself.
For example, a lot of people mistake the difference between ‘happiness’ and ‘pleasure.’
- Happiness: Human thriving, creative thriving, ‘Eudaimonia’ (Greek)
- Pleasure: Feeling good (like sexual pleasure, or the pleasure you get from eating a juicy hamburger)
I don’t think that pleasure is happiness.
Imagine if you were the last human on earth, and you had access to unlimited hamburgers, Lamborghinis, and sexual pleasures. I don’t think you would be ‘happy’ — because ultimately, human happiness is related to other human beings.
No human would live into just him or herself.
We gain the most happiness when we are conversing or interacting with other humans, being entertained by other humans, or creating artwork that we share with other humans.
Therefore, we must first empower ourselves as a stepping block to empowering others. Because I think it is human nature to desire to connect with other humans, empower other humans, and feel gratitude and love from other humans.
How to Empower Others
Not all of our human experiences are universal.
For example, the pain and suffering I’ve experienced in life doesn’t apply to everyone else. And not everything which brings me joy will bring everyone else joy.
Therefore this is my practical suggestion:
Reflect on the personal difficulties and struggles you’ve faced in your life, and identity the solution(s) which have helped you. Then, share these solutions with others who are similar to you.
That means, find a small sub-group of people who are similar to you, and have similar interests/difficulties in your life. Then seek to empower this small group of individuals.
Your job isn’t to help all 7+ billion people in the world. Even if you can find 10-1000 people who you can empower and have a positive effect in their lives, that is enough.
Not all of our skills, talents, and passions have economic value. For example, if your passion is stamp-collecting, it might be difficult to make a full-time living off of that.
But, you might find other passionate stamp-collectors, and you can build your own community that is around your passion. And sharing that passion with others, and empowering others will give you a lot more joy in life.
I know for myself, sharing my passion with others, and teaching others brings me the most joy. This doesn’t apply to everyone– but if you are the type of person that finds joy from helping others, I encourage you to follow my example in life.
Build Your Knowledge and Wisdom in Your Field
To use myself as a case study, one of my passions is street photography. From 2010-2018 I have dedicated nearly 8 years of my life studying the masters of photography, and distilling their lessons to empower myself in street photography. And through my blog, books, videos, and workshops I have shared this information and knowledge with others. And by sharing this knowledge, and keeping it open, it has brought me deep joy and satisfaction in life.
Therefore as an assignment, write down a list of your passion(s) in life, and then continue to follow your curiosity, and figure out how you can build your knowledge in those fields.
For example, if your passion is photography, learn as much as you can about photography. Read photography books, study the masters, watch films, and deepen and broaden your knowledge on photography. And then start your own blog, and share your learning points or lessons with others.
Life is the greatest blessing we are given. We didn’t ask our parents to give birth to us, but the fact is that we are alive, and here on planet earth.
It is within our power to dictate our own purpose(s) in life. It is in our power to deepen our wisdom, knowledge, and to fulfill our curiosities in life.
We must first seek to empower ourselves, by dictating what our purpose in life, and overcoming our personal fears, and anxieties in life. Once we have strengthened ourselves, then we must focus on empowering others (if empowering others brings us joy).
Once again, I am only sharing these ideas from my own perspective. There is not one ultimate “truth” in the world. There are many different truth(s) in the world. But it is your duty to discover these truths for yourself, and then it is up to you whether you want to share these truths with others or not.
But I say, yes. Say yes to your own purpose in life, and share what you discover with others. I believe that there is a high likelihood that empowering others will bring you more joy, satisfaction, and happiness in your life.
Find more meaning and purpose in your life:
- In Praise of a Dynamic Life
- How to Enjoy Life
- Photography Therapy
- How to Conquer Regret
- Take Your Play Very Seriously.
- How to Prosper
- Memento Vivere
- Destroy in Order to CREATE
- Trust Your Body More Than Your Mind
- Make Photos to Make Meaning in Your Life
- Seek Knowledge, Not Information
- The Purpose of Human Life
- How to Overcome Impedence
- Why I Love Death
- How to Be Centered in the Eternal Now
- How to Be Happy
- Why Do You Care What Others Think of You?
- Why I’m Happy
- Why I’m So Prolific
- How to Reduce LAG in Life
- How to Be a Stoic Street Photographer
- How to Use Photography as Self-Therapy
- How to Free Your Soul From Disturbance
- How to Be a Zen Street Photographer
- Zen in the Art of Street Photography
- How to Find Tranquility in Your Photography
Learn more: Start Here >
Unleash your creative potential:
- November 7th, 2020: ERIC KIM BLOGGING MASTER CLASS (Online, via Zoom). [Register Intent Here]
- April 10-11th, 2021: BOSTON / Discover Your Unique Voice in Photography Workshop [Register Intent Here]
- May 1-2nd, 2021: CHICAGO / Street Photography Composition Masterclass [Register Intent Here]
- May 22-22nd, 2021: NEW YORK CITY / STREET PHOTOGRAPHY MASTERCLASS by ERIC KIM [Register Intent Here]
Be notified of when new workshops are live here.