Do You Have a Purpose?

by Belinda Munoz on March 4, 2010


As someone who often prefers trust over proof, gut over statistics, magic over the big reveal, I believe we all serve a purpose.  If you’re groaning and thinking, “Oh, boy, lecture alert”, it’s not.  At least I don’t think so, but you be the judge.


It may be obvious, it may be a mystery, but I boldly assert that we are already serving a purpose whether we know it or not.

Proselytizers who make a ton of money Conventional wisdom proffers that we have to find our purpose, our destiny, our passion.  In response, I raise an eyebrow a glass, blow a kiss and say just be.

Well, of course we’re free to seek/choose/carve our own path, if we want to but haven’t done so yet.  (If you’re a new visitor here, choice is a biggie for me.)

But whether or not we’ve already found/fallen into/decided on our life’s mission, our mere being is already serving a purpose to others.  Whether or not we do anything or become anything, we are already being of use to others.  Like it or not.



Allow me to tell you a short story.  It was one of those less than perfect, gloomy mornings.  For no good reason, I missed having breakfast with my son and my husband.  Again.  Just like the day before.  I said hasty goodbyes to the boys.  My mood was lagging.  My stomach was growling.  I parked my car in a metered spot and sprinted across the street to my favorite French bakery called Blissful Bites.  I opened the door with high hopes for a quick chocolatey, buttery goodness healthy, low-fat muffin.

I waited a minute.  A minute became fifteen minutes.  There was only one person in front of me the whole time.

You see, this person, without even knowing it, was the catalyst for this epiphany: that we are already serving a purpose by simply being.


She ordered her items leisurely.  She made unending cheerful banter with the proprietor.  She capriciously understandably needed to switch out her cup (the lid wouldn’t close).  She changed her mind about her morning pick me up (she wanted herbal tea instead of a decaf latte).  She sipped and stirred and sipped and stirred again.

And then, she asked the patient proprietor this: “Do you know what time it’s supposed to rain today?”

That’s when I had my epiphany!

At that moment, this possibly lovely lady who didn’t seem concerned at all about my time, who turned out to be very concerned about time as it related to rainfall and her schedule, served a double-purpose for me that fateful morning:  1) She made me swear never to hold up a line like that and be completely oblivious of other people’s time.  2) She made me wonder if the gains we’ve made in meteorology can indeed predict the exact time of rainfall.


Okay, so the second point may be a little tongue-in-cheek.  But the first point — being oblivious to others, their feelings, time, existence — my gut-over-stats tendency tells me we can all relate.

Oh, and on her way out, she whacked me with her purse and didn’t apologize.  I’m small but not invisible, I thought.  She must’ve been in a hurry.  I was relieved that she didn’t seem to know I was behind her the whole time, which meant my reactions to her, um, signature style of ordering were inaudible.

If I ever run into this woman again, she for sure won’t remember me.   But I will remember her.  As the woman who made me swear never to be like her when I’m standing in line to grab a quick croissant.


When we’re simply being ourselves, chances are someone nearby is reacting, or possibly having an epiphany.  That reaction or epiphany is a purpose we serve at that moment.

  • The grumpy guy at the gas station:  reminds me that I prefer to spread cheerfulness.
  • The able-bodied young man in a shiny Mercedes convertible who honked at the octogenarian with a cane and the tired mom pushing a double-stroller crossing the street: reminds me about patience and dignity.
  • The quiet loner who eats lunch at the same greasy spoon: reminds me that we all could use a friend.

Why is this a major epiphany to me?

Because I’d rather be an example of how to be, not how not to be.  My trust-over-proof inclination tells me I’m not in dreamland all by myself on this one.

And also because it reminds me once again, how connected we are, how much power we have to impact others and how much of a difference we can make without even trying.  By simply being, we are affecting those around us.  It’s oddly intimidating and inspiring at the same time, isn’t it?

So, back to the title of this post:  Do you have a purpose? I’m wondering if this is even a good question anymore.  Perhaps, the question should be: What kind of purpose do I want to serve?

What do you think?  Are you a heart-over-reason person?  Do you eat a full breakfast or grab a pastry?


Here are some great bloggers I “met” recently who wrote some pieces I absolutely loved that I think you will enjoy:

BigLittleWolf‘s blog called Daily Plate of Crazy published a thought-provoking post called  What Are You Worth? which is about a number of challenges we face today.

Phil who blogs at Less Ordinary Living wrote an excellent post full of tips for those who want to make their dream a reality called How to Make a Living Doing What You Love.

Tony who is one half of Trottersville wrote a memorable post with accompanying original art about that space we find ourselves in when we or things have to be good enough for now.


Life is what you make of it. Always has been, always will be. ~ Grandma Moses

Image by *Edu Alarcon*

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tony Single March 4, 2010 at 4:51 am

Belinda, it’s awfully kind of you to mention my little blog. Thank you. 🙂

What kind of purpose do I want to serve? That’s a challenging yet pertinent question. I think the kind of purpose I’d like to serve is to have been someone who brought others some small measure of happiness. I don’t know how on earth I could achieve that but I can certainly try. 🙂

Also, I am definitely a heart over-reason-kinda guy. If I’m not emotionally engaged then I’m afraid I’m just not interested. That’s how it’s always been for me. I put it like this: you can either preach at me or sit and talk with me. I’ll take the latter any time.


2 Phil - Less Ordinary Living March 4, 2010 at 8:24 am

Belinda –

How do you keep getting better and better? I am a gut over proof kind of person and I’m with you that we all have a purpose whether we are aware of it or not. In every moment, with every action we take (or don’t take) we influence the whole world around us. If you stop to think of the impact we have on the universe every day, it is mind blowing.

I like the idea of exploring our meaning, just reveling in finding out is glorious. Trying too hard seems to lead to stress and suffering. Just floating in experience, enjoying and living teaches us everything we need to know. Oh and I’m a banana and muesli guy for breakfast – washed down with two pints of coffee!

Thanks for a great post – and thanks for the link too, I’m honoured.



3 Eva March 4, 2010 at 8:49 am

Belinda, thanks for this reminder of the little – imperceptible, unaware – ways we impact others around us. Some days it’s hard to spread good cheer, but I try not to spread negative energy.

This reminds me of my drive to work a few days ago. Actually, my husband drives and we carpool. As I sit in the passenger seat, I get to notice many things along the way. The people walking their dogs, the cyclists on the bike path, the houses along the streets. On this day, I was watching the faces of oncoming drivers. (It’s a 25 mph road, so I can really see their faces and expressions.) And one gentlemen was laughing, outright laughing, apparently at something on the radio. That made me smile. I wondered what my face looks like when we’re waiting at a red light. I turned the corners of my mouth up, just a little, to spread the cheer.


4 Justin Dixon March 4, 2010 at 9:44 am

I absolutely agree that no matter what we do we will serve a purpose. There is after all an order to this universe. Though there is still something to looking for your purpose. Its not that it is YOUR only specific purpose that if you don’t find it you fail but rather A purpose that pushes you to grow, and to live more completely. I always thought that is what purpose based writers were getting at.


5 Sara March 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Belinda — I love how I sometimes get caught in wondering “where are we going?’ when I read your post and then we get to the end and you give me a gift. It happens regularly and now I anticipate it, even as wonder what it will be.

Today, it was this line: “Because I’d rather be an example of how to be, not how not to be.” Just a few words that have such power! I agree with this. It’s not always easy, but a good purpose to pursue.

I think one of your purposes in life is to remind us how to see something in a new way; to see it so that it helps us grow and expand our selves.

BTW — There’s such a thing as “purpose based writers?” I happened to read the comment by Justin. I didn’t know this…I’m off to visit the Google and check this out.

Great post:~)


6 Patty - Why Not Start Now? March 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm

What an insightful thought, Belinda: “Do you have a purpose? I’m wondering if this is even a good question anymore.” As you so well illustrate in your wonderful post, purpose is everywhere. It just is. Can’t get away from it. And we have many purposes. Yet, purpose-finding is the “it” of our time; we’re supposedly incomplete without naming it and following it. But I wonder, how did others manage to live before all the purpose talk began? Just fine, I think. Often clients will tell me they don’t know their purpose. But guess what? What they’re really saying is it’s immensely frightening to just be who they know, deep down, they are because it might not fit in with who the world thinks they should be. Or it might not work out. Oh, and I’ve done all the purpose stuff myself, and it doesn’t make a darn bit of difference. I can never even remember my purpose “statement.” It’s like blah, blah, blah. Just words. Because in the end purpose resides within. There are no words for it.


7 Fr. Michael March 4, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I absolutely believe with every fiber of my being that there is a purpose to our lives. I just finished giving a talk to a bunch of high school students on that very topic. And I do plan to write about it on my blog. You preempted me.
When we know our purpose it fuels our lives. We are not accidents. If I may quote Pope Benedict: “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”
Great post as always. And full breakfast is better…


8 Belinda Munoz March 5, 2010 at 12:00 am

@Tony, the pleasure is mine for having found you through Sara and being able to link to your wonderful drawings. I’ve only recently “met” you and your art and words have already moved me. I look forward to more. Thanks!

@Phil, thank you! You’re right, mind-blowing is a great word to describe how we impact others with our existence. Maybe that’s why some of us would rather believe that we have to “find” purpose rather than to “live” purpose. The words you use: reveling, floating, exploring — these words aptly capture what gut-over-proof means for me. Such liberating words.

@Eva, ah yes, imperceptible is a great word choice! Love the picture you paint of your commute. I’m always game for receiving good cheer myself and would like to be on the spreading end a little bit more. Thanks!

@Justin, always great to have you participate in the discussion. I’m not sure I fully understand your comment. You refer to “a purpose that pushes you to grow and live more completely”. Do you mean like pursuing goals and dreams? I may not have done a good enough job of addressing this in the beginning. Also, like Sara, I wondered too about “purpose based writers”. Thanks!

@Sara, wow and wow! For me being touched by your generous words and for you naming one of my life’s purposes. Thanks, as always, for the awesome energy you bring here!

@Patty, I always feel wiser after reading your words. This: “purpose-finding is the “it” of our time” — pokes holes through a lot of inflated beliefs we’ve become comfortable with as a society and as individuals. Like I said in response to Phil, “seeking/finding purpose” for some of us is a lot less intimidating than “living purpose” and so we opt for the former when it’s the latter that’s infinitely more fulfilling. I could probably write a whole post as inspired by your comment. Thanks!

@Fr. Michael, I look forward to reading it in my reader! That’s a beautiful quote and the last phrase, “…each of us is necessary” — I’ll be meditating on that. Thanks!


9 ayo March 5, 2010 at 1:20 am

hi belinda,
i agree with Phils comment, your posts are just so……..
purpose hmmm!!! remember my blog is Discovering Purpose but I’m not in any way, shape or form like the purpose writers.
We all have a purpose and the best way to find out our purpose is to be ourselves and do things constructively. We all have potentials, talents, strengths and of course weakness but if we learn to be ourselves and accept who we are and work with what we’ve got constructively, it makes a whole lot of difference. Purpose is totally different from name it claim it or fake it to make it.(i stand to be corrected)
take care belinda


10 Nicki March 5, 2010 at 9:52 am

Belinda – For years, my purpose was to raise my children to be productive members of society. I think that is mostly done. YIPPEE! So I am searching for my next purpose. I know, while I may not find it, it will find me in the perfect timing.

You may want to check out what my friend Ben wrote yesterday – or maybe Wed – – not quite purpose but close.


11 Keith Davis March 6, 2010 at 2:39 am

Hi Belinda
Nice opening “Oh, boy, lecture alert”… made me smile.

I like the cross out effect used in:
chocolatey, buttery goodness…changed to… healthy, low-fat muffin
A clever technique that I must try.

Of course you are right, we are all connected. Blogging and the blogosphere shows just how true that is.


12 Fatibony March 7, 2010 at 6:01 am

Hi Belinda , This is a lovely post which I read right through and what caught my attention is the quote at the bottom, life is what we make it , even though it may sound sometimes too good to be true ……and I want to believe we all have a purpose in life ….


13 BigLittleWolf March 7, 2010 at 1:53 pm

What a wonderful story. (And thank you for the link!)

I think we can all relate to the oblivious woman in line, and so many examples for what not to be. I believe that whatever shapes us – whether the result of negative or positive experiences – is all of value. I believe I am a better parent for not doing many of the things that my own mother did. I believe I am a better manager (when in that role) for having experienced terrible managers. I believe I am more capable of joy for the many kind and giving spirits I’ve encountered at some of the strangest moments, who’ve been models for joy.

As for purpose? Some elements we serve intentionally, and others, unknowingly. And all of it is connective tissue, whether we realize it or not. A sort of human communal butterfly effect?


14 BK March 8, 2010 at 10:01 pm

This brings me back to what I read in Viktor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ where he mentioned that most people are looking for meaning in their lives when they should be the one giving meaning to life. It is a little like your post ‘Just Be’ and yet we cannot be oblivious to our surroundings. I too, wish to be an example of how to be and not how not to be. Thank you for the reminder that we have an impact on the people around us and we can continue to make a difference.


15 cna training April 5, 2010 at 10:26 pm

found your site on today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later


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