Why we do, what we do.
On our personal journey, we all seek understanding, meaning, wisdom and knowledge. We want to know why we’re here. We crave purpose. For many of us, we navigate life trying to make sense of who we are by distributing our time across things like obligations, work, family and our passions. We’re trying to find ourselves.
As we mature, we try and find a way to make the schematics of time work in our favor, so we can provide the type of life — for ourselves and our loved ones — that mirrors the vision of our dreams. If we’re going to act on something, we want to know why we should and, we hope to gauge the intended outcomes of that result.
Are we acting in our own self-interest? Are we doing things for others? Self-improving minds perpetually search for answers to the questions of why we do, what we do, as well as who we do it for. The greater understanding we have for the “Why” and the “What”, the more likely we are to find peace and balance in our lives.
This by no means suggests that life is one big game of figuring out all the answers and mysteries that elude us. That’s impossible. It’s a fool’s errand. But a noble, virtuous quest is to find our purpose — our mission, the namesake of this great publication. I hope as you continue your journey, you take solace that discovering your purpose is not as difficult as it appears at first blush.
In fact, with concentrated effort and focus, and the right methods of identification, you’ll realize in vivid clarity the reasons behind your thoughts, words and actions.
I love growing older. I truly do. I thought I’d fear it when I was in my teen years and even right after I graduated college. But I’ve found that life continues to reveal greater wisdom and beauty the more we seek to find ourselves.
The costs of fearing success and being afraid of becoming who you are meant to be, are astronomical. The pain and anguish is both mental, spiritual, emotional and worst case, physical. The rewards are innumerable. A life lived on your terms. Peace of mind. Clarity of thought. The attainment of dreams and goals. The attraction of warm, loving people that will continue to elevate, inspire and care for you.
I’m not talking about money or fame. I’m talking about virtues and values like faith, hope and love. Peace and confidence. These all form the core foundation of where your actions spring from. Herein, I have listed 10 reasons that help us examine and make sense of why we do, what we do. I hope you find great value in these!
1. Obligation (Need)
Starting at the base of the above pyramid, in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, we begin with obligation, which is based and defined by our most fundamental needs. Things like food, water, sleep and shelter which we need in order to simply survive. These can come from the government, other providers or ourselves.
There are luxuries and necessities in life. Survival is a sure necessity! So, we go to work and make sure we provide so we have a roof over our heads. Our cognizance of these things may not always be conscious, yet our senses are attuned and aware of it. We do what we have to do to survive, out of obligation to serve others and our needs.
2. Pride (Sense of duty)
This is a wide-ranging category, which could encompass a sense of duty like patriotism, nationalism, volunteerism — the pledge of ourselves for a cause that we deem to be greater than ourselves. This is derived from a feeling or call to take action that we take pride in and that others benefit from.
It’s also a feeling of pride — the good kind! — that comes from a job well done. We work to put “bread on the table” and go to school to prepare our minds for a brighter future. The fruits of those efforts are work products, or high marks on a test that may satisfy a customer’s needs or our own high standards. We take pride in what we do. We strive for success.
3. Vice (Selfish intention)
These are motives that disguise themselves as being in our best interest, often as needs, when they merely offer temporary pleasure and long-term pain. Vices are purely selfish. They don’t help us. They are the actions we should avoid. Yet we’re human and we fall into traps. Who would voluntarily choose a future outcome of long-lasting suffering in exchange for one night of fun?
Not me. Hopefully not you!
And yet we see a smattering of stories each day on gossip and news sites about people cheating on their partners or hurting themselves and others in the name of greed. And that’s only what’s reported! We likely know people in our personal lives that have hurt us or others. Maybe we’ve inflicted emotional wounds on people we care about.
Do your best to steer clear of the distractions and work toward…
4. Love (For the Benefit of Others)
… Doing acts out of kindness, altruism and love for the benefit of others. Find your people. Find your family, your loved ones. The people you’d run through a brick wall for and give anything to have in your life. Act out of kindness and love toward these people and I assure you, based on all of my life’s experiences and work, the gift will be reciprocated in equal or greater measure.
The most beautiful intentions, reasons and actions we take are rooted in love for our fellow man or woman.
Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone — we find it with another. — Thomas Merton
Passion for me and love, are in many respects, inextricably linked, as they share a mutual bond. My favorite activity is to spend time with my family — the people I love. My second favorite thing to do is pursue my passions of writing and coaching, which have the end-goal of providing benefit for others. Every column I write, every basketball team I coach and every client I work with, I earnestly hope, is better off for having met me.
I say this not out of arrogance or pride, but purely because I desire to have a positive influence on people that I meet, either virtually or in-person. Passion is about spending time and doing the work for which we have otherworldly enthusiasm. Find the people and things that light the fire inside of you.
6. Check the Box
Checking the box is a term I apply to things we can say that we accomplished, even if we don’t necessarily derive satisfaction from them. These may be lower-priority “bucket list” items, trying a new course at university or learning a new skill that may never be of use. But, ah! We did it! And the truth is, maybe that calligraphy class we sat in on could lead to more profitable ventures. Just ask Steve Jobs.
Our father might have done it. Our sister may have. All of us likely inherited some kind of tradition or feeling of destiny in our youth. We shoot for the stars and hope to exceed the standard or bar set by a family member, schoolmate or countryman. Perhaps, we simply believe that a particular occupation or set of circumstances are our destiny. For better or for worse.
Only you will know the answer.
8. For Show (Attention and Affection)
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. — Brene Brown
Let’s face it, part of being human is the desire to be the object of affection for another person, and often to gain the attention of others. In my earlier, wilder years, I found myself in situations I never would have imagined, were it not for the desire to meet or date a young woman. So I took chances, met new people, tried new things and have some hilarious stories to share.
Maybe in my memoir!
I acted out in middle and high school with classmates purely for fun, to get a laugh out of friends. I craved attention and risked getting in trouble to get it. What do you do, that you may find crazy or silly at the time, purely to gain the attention or affection of others? If I may be so bold, perhaps, it’s more of your actions than you think!
9. For Us (Self-Actualization and Fulfillment)
My passion for writing has led me near to the completion of my first book. It’s a very exciting time in my life and I place great emphasis on finishing the job. To reach a major objective or goal, we have to want it, and we need to feel energized and empowered to get there. We’ll be better for it and so will the people we care about. Allow me to explain…
Our best actions are rooted in love and done for others. Though, we are best positioned to love someone else when we’ve worked ambitiously to forge a new frontier for ourselves. My evolution as a writer and man has enabled my other relationships to flourish even more. I take great pride in the personal development strides I’ve made. Hopefully, you feel exactly the same.
When you do the work and improve yourself, you improve your mind, body and soul. Then, you take what you’ve learned and share that light and love to with others. You’re happier and there is greater equanimity in your life. This feeling of fulfillment is worth working toward.
10. For All
For the benefit of mankind. I come full circle with this last one and re-iterate the words of Mr. Einstein above. Let your thoughts, words and actions, manifested in their most magnanimous form, be for “the profit of the community to which your later works belong.”
If you left the world tomorrow, who would be the people you would remember most? I’ll answer that question and tell you, unequivocally, the people that gave me love and helped me become the man I am today. Those people have left a legacy, and a tremendous influence on my life. Their actions will echo throughout eternity.
Generosity, love and kindness are not impulsive reactions. They require thought and concern for others. They’re communicated via words and actions that inspire and radiate warmth. Those people knew why they did, what they did. Hopefully, you can aspire to be so beautiful. The gifts of gratitude and love will be yours in return.
10 Reasons: A Guide for Why We Do, What We Do