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🧠A Life of Purpose
Wisdom Letter #51| The One about Work
Do you live like this?👇
Always running, but not getting anywhere?
Do you spend your weekdays waiting for the weekends, and weekends trying to forget the weekdays?
When you’re stuck like that, in a never ending cycle, strangely, weeks seem to take years to unfold and years seem to pass by in a jiffy.
Anyways, another question—
What does your work do for you?
Does it pay your bills? Does it engage and challenge you? Does it give a sense of meaning to your life?
Does it do one of the those things, or all of them?
And if it doesn’t, then what do you do to answer the questions that your work leaves unanswered?
Our brains are hard-wired to find patterns and narratives in everything around us. Including the purpose of our own existence. We have this tremendous urge to make sense of everything, to fit it into an easily digestible narrative.
We can’t stand not having an explanation for something.
That’s why we invent stories to explain even the most bizarre events in the world. That’s why we tell stories to ourselves about the purpose of our existence, and of the meaning of our work.
That’s why we crave to make a dent in the Universe.
As a nihilist would tell you, the cosmic significance of your existence is equal to that of a single grain of sand in the Sahara desert. It does add up to the whole, but on its own it doesn’t mean anything.
But as an optimist, and as a human, we must strive to find meaning in the work that we do, we must strive to make sense of our existence and do the work that we believe has the most impact.
As Steve Jobs once said —
“The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do”
This crazy belief that is at the very core of the human condition. This belief that my life matters, that it has a deeper meaning, and that I can leave a legacy lasting 700 years in my mere 70 years on this planet.
An existentialist would say, after all it is this very belief, this drive to make a difference, that makes us human.
Hello and Welcome to The Wisdom Project, this is Wisdom Letter 51, and today we are talking about finding meaning in our work, living a life of purpose and discovering what we are passionate about in life.
A podcast, a video and a couple of articles await you, so grab a coffee and Read On.
A Calling or a Career
Would you call your career your calling?
If not, then what sort of a career would you call a calling?
Is your current job your dream job? Do you think you should be doing it? You think there are certain types of careers which are a calling and other types which don’t mean much?
Turns out, research shows that what we consider a dream job or a calling hasn’t got as much to do with the actual job itself, rather it depends more on how we see the job in our own head.
2 people doing the exact same job might have 2 diametrically opposite viewpoints about it. For one it could be a dead end job where he is stuck against his will, and for the other it might be the dream job that makes his life fulfilling.
Checkout this episode on the ‘Hidden Brain’ podcast where they go deeper into the research and draw valuable insights.
Best Career Advice
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Have you ever thought that the most meaning you can derive from your work is through being useful to other people.
Isn’t that what work is at the end of the day. Serving other people, in one form or the other.
Ryan Holiday is the author of “Ego is the Enemy” and several other books on stoic philosophy.
In this article on his website, he talks about the idea that the best career advice he ever got was to become the canvas for other people’s ideas. What he calls The Canvas Strategy.
To not care about credit and do the work that was necessary to be done, to do the work that no one else wanted to do.
That he says, gives us the best chance of making a positive impact on the world.
He starts off with a cool football story and ends with this lovely thought —
“The person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction, just as the canvas shapes the painting”
Checkout the complete post—
Its all well and good preaching the importance of fulfilling work. The passion economy thrives on it. Talented people leverage their passion to make a business and live a fulfilling life that also makes them wealthy.
To the rest of us mere mortals, this ‘passion to business’ thing only seems like a distant dream. A sweet fantasy that we may never be able to make into a reality.
What can we do really? To find work that’s fulfilling. To find work that excites us, fascinates us, and also makes money for us?
This video from “The School of Life” discuses this idea of finding fulfilling work. They go through a 6 point mechanism that all of us can employ in our lives and gain insights on finding the kind of work that makes Mondays feel like Sundays.
Check it out—
Finding your life’s purpose
Mark Manson is back!
On any topic regarding the improvement of the self, we invariably find his work adding the most value.
This week is no different.
This is an article where he goes deep into 7 strange questions we must ask ourselves to find our lives’ purpose.
This is a serious matter, and requires deep reflection, but the way he has framed the questions and how he explains the ideas is fascinating.
If you are psych prof then perhaps you might not find much value(and you might have already found the purpose of your life!). But if you’re an average Joe like me then his insights are immensely valuable.
The 3 questions that stand out for me out of the seven —
WHAT’S TRUE ABOUT YOU TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF CRY?
WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT AND POOP?
IF YOU KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED? (there are variations of this one which I myself have reflected on many times and the answers have been mind blowing, this project was borne out of one such question!)
Read the whole article—
Signing off for the week, here’s a quote worth pondering, its from the Manson article above —
"What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.
Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-by-fire process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity."
— Mark Manson
Read that again.
None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.
People sit around waiting for their passion to come to them, they waste years feeling “stuck” in their life because they don’t know what their passion is. They wait around for their passion to inspire action.
While in reality, the process of discovering your passion is the opposite, it is the result of continues action. Action coupled with reflection and self directed learning.
Action where you will fail and learn continuously. Learn about the activity you are indulging in, learn how you can add value to the world, learn what makes you and the people around you happy or sad.
Most of all, it will help you know yourself, learn about yourself, about what you want in life, and also, what you don’t want in life.
As he says, finding purpose, meaning, passion in life, is a full contact sport, its a trial by fire.
Think about it.
Thank you for reading.
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This was Wisdom Letter #51. In case you want to revisit any of the previous 50 letters, checkout our entire archive.
If you are wondering what this project is all about, checkout this intro post we wrote a while back. This is like Wisdom Letter #0.
Aditi & Ayush
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