On Defining Purpose

So many people who have succumbed lately have left behind grieving family and friends. In general, one can notice how whenever someone passes on, we find people who had an active connection to the dead person suffering. This lead me to contemplate the importance of individuals and their purpose.

An issue that I find plaguing many millennials is about finding their purpose. So much so that they can enrol in expensive courses, programs, coaching and whatnot just to find their hallowed purpose. Pegged on by motivational speakers, cinema and other such mass media, many feel their lives are meaningless if they fail to find their purpose. Curiously for most finding their purpose means:

  • Rebelling against the world
  • becoming famous
  • becoming rich
  • having lots of following
  • travelling (many a time for the sake of their Instagram art gallery) etc.
  • Making a ‘dent’ in the Universe

Nothing wrong with any of the above, of course. These are all good things to aim for if the heart and conscious action drive one towards them.

Coming back again to the ones who have left their mortal coils. You will find that most who have died did not have much of a following or a social circle. They perhaps only had a close-knit circle of friends and family. Their loss, though, haunts their loved ones as much as a loss of a cherished public figure. In a perverted sense of defining purpose, one may say that many who have gone failed to discover their purpose.

But is it really so?

When we lose someone close to us to the humbling phenomenon of death, our thoughts usually go towards the happy moments that consciousness helped us experience. We lament that loss because of the importance and impact that consciousness in a human (or animal) form had on your system. We remember the moments of love, of giving, of sharing that made us feel alive.

What does that entail?

Purpose kind of fulfilled 🙂

It is sad that in mass media and this day and age, when there is an apparent encouragement to project what you are not, there is a lot of dissatisfaction, especially amongst the urban population, about lack of purpose.

Purpose is not necessarily about the number of people reached or impacted. Purpose is about doing something with an intention to be helpful, of service and with a bit of heart. 🙂

In doing so, even ordinary, mundane activities become purposeful and impactful.

I’m sure you’d have heard of that story of a man who encounters three individuals on a construction site.

Once a gentleman sees a few people working on a construction site. He asks the first person, “what are you doing here, sir?”

The man replies, “Can’t you see where we are and what I’m doing” (basically, this guy was like, raasta naap, chaccha, bakaiti ka time nahi)

The gentleman asked the second person working on the site the same question. He replied, “We are working on some building, sir. I don’t care about the details. I just do my work so I can get paid.”

When the gentleman asks the third person working on the site, he replies happily, “Sir, we’re working to build a beautiful temple. I’m so happy I got a chance to be a part of this project.”

The story above is significant because it talks about the same work providing a different meaning to different people depending upon the attitude they bring to it.

The first guy was FML, Monday vibe.

The second was like, you’ve got to do what you must do.

The third found a meaning to what he was doing and felt joyous.

An idea that I dare put forth is that perhaps your work is not your purpose. In other words, the career that pays you is not your purpose, but you may need to be engaged in it anyway. Maybe your purpose is just to mow the lawn, water the plants, bring a glass of water for a family member, take care of your animal, pick up litter off the street and drop it in the trash can, or simply giving a kind smile to a fellow human and so forth. It is these seemingly small things where purpose can manifest. 🙂

Let me conclude by sharing an incident when I felt purposeful.

Back when I was doing my yoga teachers training at Govardhan Eco Village, almost every evening, I went to take darshan of Shri Giriraj Govardhan (a manifestation of Shri Krishna). While circumambulating the embodiment of the lord, I saw a plastic water bottle on the trail. My immediate response was of irritation mixed with anger on the lack of civic sense of some people in the country. My mind even thought of some really ‘sweet and gentle’ words that are the hallmark of a Delhi guy (think of Virat Kohli on a Cricket field). But, blame it on the conditioning of the spiritual atmosphere and Shri Krishna, I uncharacteristically picked it up and dropped it in the trash basket. This entire exercise somehow made me feel good.


Because I felt useful to contribute by picking the bottle up, which anyway would have been picked up by the diligent staff at the eco-village who’re so particular about cleanliness. Maybe some other guest/student would have done it sans any irritability like me. But, the fact that I could be used and inspired for that little act when no one was around to pat my back or praise me was humbling.

That is how purpose can work. It may be doing the most insignificant thing that someone else will do anyway. But, God gave you a chance to be of use and service. And when one can program their mind like that, boom! Every day of life becomes meaningful, purposeful and a reason to be grateful.

Do you have a story to share?

When did you feel purposeful in your life?

I’d be pleased to read, hear and know about your experiences and thoughts.

Shall feel purposeful if this resonates with you,

Kushagra 🙂

The Smiling Panda Recommends:

1. House of Cards by Sudha Murty
Easy to ready, engaging and true to her style, with a subtle message about the society and a lesson if one is willing to take it.

2. Death on The Nile by Agatha Christie
She is a famous author, and this was my first book by her. Fun, delightfully immersive and a page-turner. One always loves a lovely detective/mystery novel. This one is no exception. Try it if you like the genre.


A few old favourites that I rediscovered and have been loving them again.

3 thoughts on “On Defining Purpose

  1. Annapurna

    Very beautiful post Khushagra! I believe the same. Purpose these days is so overrated.It can be as simple as living ur life mindfully. Each & everything on this planet happens for a reason. Sometimes purpose could be to be part of a bigger purpose ( which I believe we all are).


  2. justmadhuri

    I loved the simplicity. The joy of doing it and the flow when I am doing it are indications to me that I am living my purpose.


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