The Purpose of Life: Taking the Long View
Tuesday, 01 January 2013
As the holiday season winds down at the end of the year, many look forward optimistically to the new year. The new year is approached with hope, aspirations and goals that require action from us. This time of year and annual exercise always makes me think about the purpose of life. I believe that the purpose of life is not to acquire things or even knowledge, but to become something, ultimately to grow and progress to reach our fullest potential.
Life is an exquisite teacher. It will try and test you beyond what you possibly thought you could ever accomplish or withstand. I believe we existed as individuals before this life and that we will exist after this life. If we see this life, our mortal existence, as act two in a three-act play, we allow ourselves to take the long view. Having a long term view, even an eternal perspective, can make acute bumps along the road of life seem less challenging. We all have major challenges that will push us to our limit, but if we can view these as an opportunity to learn, progress, and become something better, our long view mindset can enable us to positively push through each challenge. Not only can we survive life’s difficult challenges, but we can use them to our benefit to become something better.
This long view perspective runs counter to many cultures today. Expectations of my generation and younger generations are accustomed to instant gratification, with answers to questions and fulfillment of appetites literally at their fingertips. Many cultures are transactional in nature, focused on obtaining a certain product or asset immediately. While wonderful technologies have made such benefits widely available, we have not had the benefit of working in an agricultural world where you plant in the spring and harvest much later in the year, and sometimes not at all.
My father’s favorite saying is, “A little effort consistently will make a massive difference ultimately.” This saying connects our daily actions to our eternal potential. As we become incrementally better people day after day, we will look back after the years at our former selves and be amazed at the progress we have made.
We will all make mistakes and fall short of our ideals, but we can repent and continue to progress, thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ. As we look toward the new year, I would encourage us all to take the long view by making choices and taking consistent action to become the person you want to become.