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How do I find purpose?

Discussion of how to find meaning.
I used to be really idealistic and passionate. I cared about a number of activist and non-activist causes. This last winter I endured a terrible depression, though, and while I'm better, I still feel pretty numb. It doesn't help that I graduated from college, so I don't have all that energy and intellect around me. Help? :-) Thanks.
Hey 04.Jul.2005 01:16


One reason for your depression (and mine) might be because the American people are so passified in the life they live. A major reason for that is the major media gives us the news that keeps us unaware of what is actually happening. It is a very, very disgusting and seemingly hopless situation. The only thing that has picked me up lately has been the story about Rove being the clown that outed the CIA agent.....a felony!

Maybe if we would see some justice for the wrongs that have been committed by this bloody administration, our depression levels would subside.

Today, MSMBC actually mentioned this story that broke yesterday on the net. It is not a whole lot, but it is something......I hope it helps......read some Chomsky.....that helps me.

i recommend... 04.Jul.2005 02:03

a friend

Read Joe Bageant! (See the interview: http://www.counterpunch.org/oxman01052005.html) I especially like this excerpt:
JB: One man never beat a mob on the mob's own turf. But one man can sure as hell get outside the turf and lob hand grenades at the mob. Can one even get away at all? Of course not. But I don't have to suffer the daily insults of America's military capitalist mindwarp ALL the time for christsake! I think I can leave the country for months at a time...get away to think and write and screw and feel free. And to hear some other voices and opinions from the outside world. It is impossible to do so inside this capitalist military state, where information is so controlled and the citizenry's behavior and attitudes are so heavily modified by media, consumer advertising, etc. Also, the older I get the more I appreciate simplicity...like buying vegetables in the market and spending all day preparing them. Playing my little parlor guitar. Napping with my dogs in the afternoon. Frankly, I'd like to slip away to a more contemplative life, but if you are born in this country you gotta buy back your fucking life before you are allowed to change it. The state owns us from birth. Ensnares us in its economic system as productive and consumer units. As far as planting seeds that may not bear fruit in our lifetimes, well, that's a global proposition, isn't it? You can do that from anywhere because it is about how you conduct your daily life. I think it is as much about what you refuse to do as what you do. Of course I am very much full of shit and tend to do as little as possible whenever possible. So screwing off and leaving the world alone, not using much of it up, appeals to me. That and internationalist solidarity of mankind. But even to accomplish that, we need to slow down, shut the fuck up and think about the world and our places in it. THEN we can commence to raise hell against the systems that enslave us.

Get a job, save a little money, and get the fuck out of this country for a few years, for the sake of your own sanity. You will live and survive to fight another day. Don't do what I did, moping around for years in a state of depressed lethargy, unable to work, racking up debts that you will have to work like hell later to pay back to The Man.

Stay free!

Do something 04.Jul.2005 03:04


If you "endured a terrible depression" "this last winter", it is highly unlikely that you are better now. In fact, you say not immediately : "I still feel pretty numb".

Many people would say you need psychological therapy. Other insist that therapy is evil.

The choice is yours. Do use it.

BTW purposes, especially other people's purposes, are snares set by the oppressor.

Help those less fortunate... 04.Jul.2005 08:39

Pravda or Consequences

because we all suffer. However, some of that suffering can be alleviated by acts of humanity.

channel your anger 04.Jul.2005 09:24

wake up

Most people slip into depression because they feel helpless.

Well stop feeling helpless by first getting angry- WTF is going on in this country!
The idea that so many are suffering at the hands of our country...the apathy of so many is depressing...true, but change starts with you. You have the power. Now, channel that anger into acts of good- Start freeway blogging,write letters to the editor,stage a protest at your representatives office... Do anything and everything to demand our troops are brought home NOW!

Kucinich: New Urgency to bipartisan efforts to pass "Homeward Bound" Resolution

We'll bring our troops home, whether Bush likes it or not

Decorate your town for the 4th of July

Anytime you start feeling down- DO SOMETHING- and your spirit will be lifted

Purpose 04.Jul.2005 09:29


Nothing matter with depression.

One might remember, Jesus first descended into the lower depths--before he rose high into heaven.

In other words, a person must go to the bottom of life: little food, housing, clothing, friends, etc . . .until they can find meaning--and purpose.

(Like Jesus being in the desert forty days.)

when a person has nothing, they will search out purpose; otherwise; there is nothing to live for; and they will probably succumb to the world's woes.

But everyone has some talent--and purpose.

You are unique.

There is something that you can do that no one else can do.

Once purpose is found, then it's a matter of whose purpose you will obey--yours or your Creator's.

The difference there should be like night and day. (There's not much satisfaction in fulfilling one's personal purpose, but to a greater and higher power--probably lies the anwser to which you are looking for.)

Such that so many people search for God's purpose in their lives.

ignore the above comments 04.Jul.2005 11:17


don't just do anything, because anything isn't always helpful; for example, writing letters to congress is a waist of ink, much like sitting in a tree, or ranting with sign-posts down an empty street. What you need is a serious search into the world you wish to change. Once you really understand what's going on, you'll feel confident and understand how to channel you energy. Chomski is a good place to start, but by all means move on! The Chomski-style school of activism is the type you've probably done already ( the 'anything is better than nothing' school), and part of the reason your depressed. You realise, like many activists before you, that all the well intentioned stuff you have done is not effecting the big picture, the real causes into all the issues you care about. For a much deeper understanding into the world around you read The Iron Heel-by Jack London. Make a serious study of Marxism, Lenin and Trotsky are especially helpful. You'll find your blood may boil a bit, but your depression will subside, being replaced by a new found energy and confidence.

Good music 04.Jul.2005 11:30


Good commercial free music from around the world helps.

Transformation and Rebirth 04.Jul.2005 11:33



"I deal with people everyday and it's my experience that they are experiencing the same situations I am: tired (almost always exhausted), procrastination, lack of motivation, and total inability to do their work, and a real desire not to do it anymore.... and the hardest part is, none of us can understand why? Things that used to be important aren't anymore, plus strange health issues are coming out of nowhere. Is there a higher purpose going on, or are we just going crazy?"
There is a Great Change upon us at this time. This change began after 9/11, when people all over the world started to re-evaluate their lives, and redefine what is really important in life. Since that time, people everywhere have been making profound and sweeping changes: changing their careers, long-term relationships, places of residence, etc., in order to connect with the true essence of themselves, which is joy. The Universe is supporting people to stop doing the things they don't want to do any longer, in order to allow us to do what will truly give us joy and fulfillment.

The time of the Calling is here, and this is what we've all been waiting for, and what many of us have come for. A calling often involves what is untrue falling away, leaving only the pathways that would fulfill our purpose. Often, we may fear these paths, even though they always involve using our greatest gifts, the things that bring us the most joy, and those things that come most easily to us. I have often wondered why we tend to fear this so much, and the answer is that many of us fear our own power, our own greatness, and our own joy. We have used whatever means necessary to keep ourselves and our lives small, and to do the minimum necessary to carry out our purpose on Earth. Well, that's not going to cut it anymore! We are being called to serve the Light of Love, and to shine brightly in our greatness and in our glory. This is the transformation that is at hand.

All transformation involves death and rebirth: the old must die so that the new can be born. Many of us are somewhere along this cycle. For those whose lives are undergoing a death phase, aspects of grief can be expected: we grieve the loss of what has been known and familiar, even if it has been painful (we often get comfortable with being uncomfortable). During this time, the body wants to rest so the spirit and psyche can undergo healing and transition. This is the reason for the lethargy and lack of motivation. If one does not allow for this kind of down time, then the body will manifest physical symptoms "out of nowhere" in order to slow you down so you conserve your energy for the inner work.

Transformation takes a lot of energy. A great deal of the transformation process can take place during the dreamtime, leaving one feeling tired and exhausted upon awakening. If we lived in a culture that honored the sacred rather than the profane, we would all be joining together to support one another in our vision quest, for what we are seeking to bring forth is a new vision of what is possible on Earth. We would not be struggling to toil at mundane work and would instead be committed to the Great Work that is before us. But our society does not presently support this kind of work, so people continue to show up for their "day jobs" with very little energy, presence or enthusiasm. It takes a lot of energy to be a superhero changing the world by night!

The death phase of transformation, or letting go phase, can involve releasing on all levels in order to make room for what is new. Some people may be cleaning house and letting go of things left, right and center, (I know of others who have had this done for them, seemingly against their will through theft). We must now let go of all that no longer serves us in order to lighten our burden for the path ahead; this involves letting go of outmoded habits, old friends who are no longer on our wavelength, and old ways of living life that do not honor who we really are (including jobs, relationships, locations, etc.). We may try to hold on with all our might to what is familiar, but this will only waste precious energy, as all that is no longer true for us must fall away.

Some people may find themselves in between the process of letting go and that of creating anew, feeling a little lost, empty and confused. Do not fight this, for resistance only causes pain, and wastes the energy necessary for the process of creating. The field of plenty must lay fallow for a time before new seeds can be planted, in order to produce a strong and plentiful crop. Take advantage of this quiet time to ask yourself: what gives you joy in life? What is most important to you? How do you want to spend your time on Earth? What gifts do you have to share and offer? Pondering these questions will lead you to a fulfilling path. Always let what gives you joy guide you to make your choices, because your joy is your purpose in life.

All those who allow themselves to go through the darkness of death and letting go will emerge into the Light of rebirth. There are those who are now in the process of beginning new and exciting paths that will be joyful and fulfilling. This is a time of planting new seeds for the future that will have far-reaching implications, and ripples beyond what you can humanly see or imagine. Trust the path that presents itself to you, even if it frightens you and seems to make no sense. Just take one step at a time, accepting where you are in each now. Trust that all is well and good. There is a big picture here, and we are all part of the Great Plan. Choose to play your part, to follow your own inner guidance, and it will bring joy to you and to the world.

All this does serve a higher purpose, and no, you are not crazy. The madness that has befallen this world is falling away so that the truth may emerge once again. We are the shepherds of that Light, and a new day is dawning. We may be feeling that we are losing our minds, and in a way we are, in order to come to our senses! We are being disillusioned by the proliferation of suffering in this world, so that we may understand that suffering itself is an illusion. This must now fall away to reveal the truth: that we are not separated by our skin, but only by our mind, yet we are one of heart. The truth is that love, joy and compassion must prevail on Earth, for this is the purpose of the whole experience of reincarnation, and the point of humanity itself.

One of my specialties in my work is to assist people through the process of transformation and transition. In fact, I am often told that my readings are "enlightening and transformational". It is my great pleasure to provide people with guidance and support through these times by offering a roadmap for joy, peace and success in all aspects of life.

Innerlinktraining.com may offer additional support in the rebirthing process.

Copyright 2005 Grace & Grace Associates Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

"Responsibility is power. You have the power of choice.
You are always responsible for the choices you make and the actions you take."

what works for me 04.Jul.2005 12:37

a friend

Hey, me again. Just wanted to say, everything here might be useful, but some other things that I think can help:

Get plenty of sleep, in a room with good natural lighting in the daytime, and very dark at night.
Look for a bedroom with south and/or east facing windows, that isn't saturated with bright street lights at night.

(Depression is strongly correlated with disruptions in sleep patterns, and vice versa, and nothing is more disruptive of sleep than the lack of natural lighting -- and the presence of artificial lighting constantly -- in our cities. There are hormones that the body needs in its continuous process of repairing and sustaining itself that only get produced in your sleep. And they get totally disrupted by the presence of light at night -- especially shorter wavelength light (blue/green/yellow). Avoid that shit like the plague. Also, you need a normal progression of dark, twilight, dawn, and bright natural light in the mornings, otherwise the body's circadian rhythm also gets out of whack, and the hormonal processes will also get overloaded and shut down because of excess darkness. Compare the conditions that human beings evolved in, and the current 50-100 year experiment we've been engaged in within urban environments immersed in artificial light is a gigantic uncontrolled health experiment that is responsible, or a contributing factor, in many health problems such as cancer. This subject has started to become the focus of extensive research, and you will find many articles in popular science magazines that distill these findings.)

Consider taking up a meditation practice. Developing a practice that can cultivate inner poise is invaluable. I've used zazen (it helps to practice with others, as this invigorates your sense of seriousness and purpose; a great place for this locally in Portland is Dharma Rain Zen Center ( http://www.dharma-rain.org), but there are also many other practices and organizations. Find one that appeals to you).

Take walks in the woods. Get out of the city, or go to one of the marvelous local parks like the trails of Washington Park around Hoyt Arboretum, or Forest Park. Or Oaks Bottom. Or around the lakes of Reed College.

Contemplate gratitude. Start to think of all the things that are RIGHT, things that you have to be grateful for, in the world and in your own life. You will discover, even when things seem at their worst, that you actually have plenty of such things.

Consider taking up yoga. This is a practice, distinct from meditation, which incorporates the whole body, and many people report gives them a profound sense of physical and mental wellbeing. Another is Tai Chi. But I think yoga is primary. Tai Chi is more specialized -- a sort of slow motion martial arts practice.

Volunteer in tasks working with others that are helpful to others. We can contemplate abstract words like "justice, truth, beauty, charity," etc, but they only become meaningful in the concrete instances of them in our own lives. We are social beings, and without strong and positive connections with others, where we feel we are contributing something to others wellbeing, we frequently become lost.

Once again, consider doing some travel. This is a marvelous way to broaden your perspective on the world, especially when you live in such an excruciatingly insular and homogenized society as the United States. Of course, there are many racial and ethnic minorities here. But the corporate consumer culture largely drowns out this diversity in an appalling drone of kitsch. But you can seek out noncorporate, authentic culture, even here. If you travel to other countries, consider doing it in the context of some kind of volunteer project, maybe work brigades of some sort, where you work side by side in solidarity with humble people who can use your help.

me too! 04.Jul.2005 13:11

Ben There

I too feel depressed in the winter. It is mostly because of the absence of sunshine here in western oregon. I leave every winter and usually go to southern Mexico where things and places to live are about half the cost of living here. When I have to stay here, I cope with this drab existance by drinking vast quantites of bargain bottles of wine. Lately, however, even the wine doesn't help,so I really get off on being sober. I think the real key to being happy for me is to not get in a rut. I hope you find happiness too. If politics are confusing to you , I would suggest reading Howard Zinn's Peoples History of the United States (1492 to the present.)

seasonal affective disorder 04.Jul.2005 18:17

light or temperature?

The incidence of depression goes up as you go farther north. I suspect it has more to do with temperature and cabin fever -- the consequences of being cooped up inside in a limited number of artificial environments, and being alienated from the natural world. I bet somebody working the night shift in the tropics would have a statistically better outlook on life than somebody up at dawn every day in Alaska all year long.

flouride 04.Jul.2005 19:59


investigate flouride

Getting one's shyte together 05.Jul.2005 10:29

regular contributor

Lethargic Guy,

I was an activist, and entered a similar state you describe. The trigger was the fact that the lefties around me were unable to support one another in a social sense, and found this out when I saw hard times, but it was largely unresolved shyte from long before I was an activist. Therapy is a good idea, in spite of the wierd anti-scientific and anti-intellectual bent of some anarchists. If you are reallt in a jam, the drugs are a way to mitigate the pain and urges while you sort out your life, much like a pain killer is while one does physical therapy to heal their limbs (and if you smoke a lot of weed, or drink, think twice about that-both cause depression, and cause people to not be able to connect with close ones). Therapy is expensive, and if you feel you can make progress without them, good on you. The movement needs a free phsych-family therapy clinic in a serious way, if we are to survive the stress and trauma that gets thrown our way because we stand up. But don't ever let anyone talk you out of tapping into resources because they believe it to be a conspiracy of the man to keep us down. If you become dependent on certain things, instead of using them to ground yourself, then that is another issue.

Take a break from activism, without guilt (that is not complacency, it's self care) and do your own thing for a while, and disengage. When the time is right, you may find another role in the movement that suits you. The paragraph about leaving the country was truely inspiring. Many great artists and writers had to leave the USA to produce their best work.

Bottom line is that the longer you wait to face things, the harder life gets down the road. Seek out your true friends, and if you have found that your friends are not supporting you, that is a tough break, but at least you know you need new people around you. The point really is to live life at the highest level possible. Good luck, brother.

Short term cure for depression 05.Jul.2005 12:44

Your local bartender

Go on an almighty bender for a few days. Maybe a one or two night stand. Wake up in Seattle or San Francisco. The hangover will give you purpose.