Finding Purpose in Everyday Moments

When we think of our purpose, chances are we think of big, grandiose goals and sweeping statements.

A group of friends enjoys the sunset on a beach. They are finding purpose in everyday moments.

In reality, living with purpose isn’t about achievements and accomplishing goals on our to-do list. Truly living a meaningful, fulfilling life is about finding purpose in everyday moments.

Would you like to live longer?

Would you like to get more done?

Do you wish you could cope with stress better?

Do you want to be more radiant, have more friends, and a social life filled with connections?

Would you like to enjoy a better sex life?

Believe it or not, all of these desires are fulfilled by finding a sense of purpose. If you want to live a life of more, experience better health, happiness, wellness, and fulfillment, you need to learn how to discover the purpose in everyday moments.

What Does Finding Purpose Mean?

It’s funny because many of us hear about purpose often. There are gurus and teachers out there, motivational speakers, and business leaders who will talk about finding your purpose and it sounds…daunting. Living a life of purpose seems like one of those goals that’s hard to pinpoint or even achieve. How do we “live with purpose?” How do we “find our purpose?” What does it even mean?

Purpose isn’t a grand mission statement. We tend to think our purpose needs to be huge—earth-shattering. We think we need to create a purpose statement on par with Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., or Gandhi. We look at visionaries and leaders and wonder how our meager lives could measure up. How could we live with as much purpose as these great people?

After all, when you’re stuck in traffic during your commute, when kids are fighting and you’re trying to get dinner on the table, or when your order gets screwed up at Starbucks, it’s hard to feel like you’re living with purpose and fulfillment, right? It’s hard to think of the bigger picture.

Purpose doesn’t come in sweeping statements and grandiose realizations. Purpose actually comes from finding the meaning in each situation we face each day.

We tell our students at Wright Graduate University that they’re life students at Earth School. It’s their job to look at each moment before them and ask, “What is the earth school lesson being posed to me right now?”

Yes, that’s a little challenging when there’s artificial sweetener in your coffee (blech) or your toddler’s having a meltdown in the grocery store. But those moments are full of opportunities to learn and grow. Those are moments for finding purpose.

What gets in the way of discovering our purpose? Fear. Habits. Drama. Life in general. We all want to live meaningful, purposeful lives. We want to be the best people we can become and to live great lives. Many times, though, we may feel as though we fall short—like there’s more potential locked inside us.

Maybe we face challenges in our lives (after all, who doesn’t?!) such as family problems, relationship problems, aging parents, or small children. We may find ourselves in political battles with our friends and coworkers. We may face conflicts at the office. Our days are demanding and overwhelming. Some days, we may feel as though we’re barely staying afloat, let alone swimming through life. We lose sight of our purpose.

Yes, life gets exhausting. We’re so busy getting through the demands of the day, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead of living a big, full, juicy, satisfying, and meaningful life, we zone out and “get by.”

What happens when we’ve had a rough day or stress out? We turn to our phones and start scrolling through social media, right? We look at all the fun activities and accomplishments our friends are posting, and we sink even further into the feeling of “blah.” Our lives don’t seem to measure up.

So then we turn to food—we reach for ice cream, chips, pizza, and cookies. Not because we’re hoping to enjoy and appreciate a special treat, but because it gives us a temporary rush of pleasure.

Or, we decide to engage in retail therapy. We buy new shoes, we fill up our Amazon cart, or we buy “toys” like makeup, video games, or another fun item to give us a temporary thrill (even if we can’t afford it).

Maybe you turn to Netflix? We binge out on shows, watching episodes back-to-back.

When you get through engaging in these time-wasters, what we like to call soft addictions, how do you feel? Do you feel relaxed? Energized? Emotionally upbeat?

Chances are, even if the episode was interesting, the food was delicious, or those new shoes are super adorable, the momentary high wears off quickly. After you’ve spent a Saturday indulging in your soft addictions, chances are you probably feel gross. Maybe you feel zoned out—almost hungover. Perhaps your energy is simply drained. Maybe you feel panicked about your impending credit card bill.

When we lose sight of our purpose, when we engage in soft addictions and timewasters, we move away from meaning. We go to counterfeit pleasures instead of seeking what would help us truly feel fulfilled.

What Purpose Does For Us

Purpose is like a compass. It gives us a sense of direction and helps us get to our destination—one of greater fulfillment. Purpose can inform our every moment.

We can find more purpose in our commute; more purpose at work; more purpose in our interaction with our children and grandchildren; more purpose in our face-to-face time with friends and family.

When we think of purposeless interactions we may think of chitchat. Conversations about the weather, or observations. Purposeless conversation may even include expressing physical sensations we’re experiencing, “Ugh, it’s so hot!”

Think of our interactions in an elevator or while we’re waiting in line at the coffee shop. When we talk to strangers, we often aren’t engaging or speaking with intention. We aren’t stopping to really listen to what the other person is saying. We aren’t talking about meaningful topics.

Imagine instead if we went into our interactions with a stronger intention to engage. If we stretched ourselves to converse about topics other than our surroundings. What if you asked someone how they were really feeling today? What if you observed something about them you could sincerely admire and compliment them on? What if you asked them their opinion or why they were there?

When we start engaging—really seeing those around us, listening, and caring—we start to feel a greater connection. We start to bring purpose into our everyday interactions and we start finding purpose in regular moments.

We aren’t used to walking into the coffee shop, or even into a work meeting with intention. We’re used to going through the motions, living but not really feeling alive. If we approach every moment with the intention to learn more, to connect, and to understand others better, we gain greater fulfillment.

Our sense of fulfillment and purpose is guided by the longings of our heart. What we refer to as our yearnings. These are deeper than our wants. We don’t yearn for coffee, new shoes, or even attention from a cute stranger. We yearn to connect. We yearn to feel loved. We yearn to be respected, to be seen, and to be heard.

If we engage with intent and consciously go into each situation, our yearnings will guide us. We become more engaged. We’re looking at the bigger picture, rather than indulging in the moment or seeking instant gratification. This sense of purpose brings us deeper satisfaction because our yearnings (not just our cravings) are fulfilled.

With practice, we’ll start finding purpose in everyday moments. Instead of zoning out, we’ll lose the feeling of sleepwalking through our lives. Purpose makes you feel more YOU.

Purpose helps us live longer. Scientific studies show now living with a sense of purpose and fulfillment lowers our incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure and even suppresses the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Extracting lessons from each moment, living intentionally with purpose will help us strengthen our connections with others. It helps keep us feeling renewed and cognitively sharp. It even helps us live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

The benefits of purpose are huge!

But purpose itself fits into even the smallest situations. We can set forth intention and find a greater purpose in each moment throughout our day. Be mindful. Extract the lesson from every situation. Explore, be curious, zone-in instead of zoning out.

For more on living a life of greater fulfillment and purpose, please visit us at the Wright Foundation. Join us for an upcoming networking event or download some of our great courses available online. Get more meaning from your day-to-day life, today!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Photo by Kevin Delvecchio on Unsplash.

The Secret to Happiness: What You Can Learn from a Kindergartner

When was the last time you watched kids playing? Maybe it was your own children, nieces, nephews, or grandkids. Maybe you babysat for a friend or went to their house.

Do you want more fun in your life? Would you like to feel happier and more like a kid again? The secret to happiness is something we can learn from children. They know that true happiness comes from breaking down our barriers, learning to engage, experiment, learn and PLAY!

Not long ago I was visiting with a friend—a mother of two boys ages 3 & 4. These two little guys knew how to PLAY! I watched them as they got out their toy workbench. They had a small plastic hammer, screwdriver, and saw.

Now, we’d expect they’d play “building,” right? Surprisingly, no. I asked them what was going on with their clearly engaging and elaborate play.

“This guy is a plane,” Simon told me, referring to the saw. “Then Davey has the sword,” referring to the screwdriver his little brother was holding. “He has to fly in this guy over the mountain before he falls in the lava. Then he has to get the bear with his sword, but I’m the wizard and I’m going to put a spell on him.”


This was pretty wild, fun, and involved play (at one point I believe Davey hit Simon with the saw and there were tears). Mom sat back, coolly watching.

“Do they always get this involved in their play?”

“Oh yeah—this is totally normal stuff at our house.”

How Kids Show Us the Secret to Happiness

When kids play, sometimes they get quite serious. Yes, there’s an element of fun and joy to play (of course), but it’s also completely engrossing.  Play is mindful. Kids play to learn, it’s true, but it’s not all mimicry of “real life.” Davey might not grow up to become a bear-fighting pilot-fencer. Simon probably won’t become a wizard.

Remember when you were a child and played with your favorite toys, making up stories with your action figures or stuffed animals?

One day you were a zookeeper and veterinarian.

One day maybe you were a princess or prince.

One day you were an architect of great cities.

One day you were a movie hero or heroine, saving the day.

Didn’t it feel great?

Then, as we get older, what happens? A friend tells us our uninhibited play is “babyish,” or “there’s no such thing as…” We start to learn boundaries. Around age 7 or 8 we start to reign in our play to a specific set of parameters and socially acceptable guidelines.

As we become adults this reigning in continues. Even if we play on a community sports league or throw back a few glasses of wine and dance at a wedding, we’re still self-conscious. We’re still worried about doing what’s socially acceptable—what we think we should do. How we should “adult.”

In truth—what would happen if you allowed yourself to push beyond those barriers and really PLAY?

I recall an “aha” moment as I was writing my book The One Decision, which I actually went on to share in the book:

To play is to be fully alive in the present moment. In a here-and-now interaction with yourself or someone else, play will encourage you to grow and be nourished. When we are at play, we are curious, experimental, and open to new possibilities.
In fact, just the other day I saw how the principles of aliveness and play were woven into my experience. At some point in the morning, hard at work on this book, I began to feel drained. Then, I tuned into the stirring piece of music playing in the background, bounded out of my chair, and twirled around with arabesques as the song played. I was a prima ballerina! Then my writing felt like play as I toyed with ways to express theses concepts.
Throughout the morning, as I worked, I danced a jig to Irish music pouring through the speakers, read jokes out of a good joke book out loud, lit candles at our home altars, and prayed for my writing.
In the middle of another full session of writing, I took a break, prayed, and did a meditation for the soul of a friend’s grandmother who had recently died. After working all morning, I took a magnificent bike ride in the countryside, was moved to tears when thinking about an inspirational story of one of my personal heroes, and went to lunch with Bob, where I read a hilarious passage from a book aloud and we laughed until we cried, attracting the attention of our waitress, who shared our joke, and wound up chatting about her upcoming move to another state.
That evening, I shared a luscious barbecue outside on our picnic table while watching the sunset, and warmed up with a dip in the hot tub in the twilight.
As I reviewed just a few instances of my play during the day, I am now reexperiencing all the aliveness with myself dancing, with the book, and with Bob. I was truly nourished and believe I grew, and am growing even more, as I write this.
–The One Decision

The Rules of Being an Adult

Play is the secret to happiness. When we play, we’re engaged and allowing ourselves to “let go.” We’re having fun. We’re challenging ourselves. Play strengthens our connections with others and is good for our relationships. Life becomes an experiment, where trial and error are allowed and encouraged. Rules no longer apply.

So, how can we take these ideas of play and incorporate them into our daily lives?

Let go of these self-imposed rules. Allow yourself to engage with others. Be emotional, be alive, and imaginative. Learn, discover, create! Allow creativity to flow through you—don’t worry if you’re not good at it or compare yourself to others. Let go and jump in.

Children are constantly discovering. This is why the world is so full and interesting to us as kids—we’re stimulated by all there is to take in. We can get our sense of wonder and aliveness back, simply by allowing ourselves to experience something new.

Want to figure out how to start playing?

Visit a museum and spend time really examining and getting drawn in by a piece of artwork. Go to a concert and get swept into the music. Listen to the radio or an album and dance!

Take on a creative pursuit you’ve never attempted before—painting, dancing, theater (plenty of pretend and imagination), comedy, or another form of expression. Sculpt with clay, decoupage, or paint. Allow yourself to freely experiment.

Play a sport, throw a ball, hit with a racket, swing on a swing. Don’t feel like you need to be athletic to go for it. Ride a bike or scooter. Roller-skate! Do an activity even if you fear a minor scrape or injury—part of play is allowing ourselves to experience hurt—physical hurt, OR the emotional hurt of embarrassment or self-consciousness. It’s okay.

If you attend a sporting event or watch your favorite sport, get into it! Part of the fun is rooting for a team based on arbitrary factors, luck, and circumstance. Cheer for the home team or cheer for the away team. Simply have a good time.

There are no rules that say you can’t eat dessert for breakfast, occasionally. There’s no rule that says you can’t eat dinner on your living room floor, you can’t wear a bold color, or you can’t sing along when your favorite song comes on (wherever you are).

Play is spontaneous and fun.

Find opportunities to turn the mundane into play too. How can you make a game of your next trip to the supermarket, project at work, or household chore? It sounds difficult but think like a kid. Can you time yourself? Challenge yourself somehow (talk to every person you see wearing black shoes at the store, pretend you get 10 points for every accounting error you find on a spreadsheet, or clean the house doing your best Mrs. Doubtfire impression)? You can still get serious work accomplished, without taking it too seriously.

Play is the secret to happiness; a way to awaken and enliven our souls. It leaves us feeling energized. It fuels us toward new ways of thinking and new epiphanies. It keeps us feeling young, vibrant, joyful, and upbeat. If you want to experience a zest for life—play!

For more ways to discover purpose and joy in your life, please visit us a We’re excited to share many of our courses available for download at a special, introductory price as well. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to explore and learn more about yourself!

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Photo by Myles Tan on Unsplash.