Defined Words: purpose, reason
The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that “everything happens for a purpose.” It’s important that you don’t confuse this with the more accurate statement “everything happens for a reason.” You might think that these are nearly identical phrases but let’s look at both to clarify.
A purpose is an intended end result while a reason is an explanation of why something happened. “Everything happens for a reason” is a more accurate statement because everything that happens is caused by something: a car accident is caused by a distraction; a hurricane is caused by shifting air currents; a market crash is caused by risky investments. “Everything happens for a purpose” is a wildly inaccurate statement because it requires an external entity with an end goal in mind.
When you see your life as having a purpose, you are viewing it from a top-down perspective. Top-down means that there is an entity with greater power than you deciding the path that is best for you to fulfill a purpose that you don’t know yet. A bottom-up perspective, however, comes from understanding where you come from and how you got to where you are now. You are temporarily alive as a human and you just happen to exist in the midst of the second Information Age, a wonderful time to be a part of reality. No external entity could have predicted or planned for the position we currently find ourselves, and yet here we are.
A bottom-up perspective understands that everything is the way it is for a reason, but the purpose of it all is yet to be determined. That’s where your job starts. You are capable of creating and living in stories throughout your life that involve characters that you will meet along your journey. While you are still living in a story, you have the ability to build a universe to complete that story and give the preceding events a greater meaning. When people discover their purpose, it is because all of their past experiences seem to point to a single storyline that allows them to complete the neural cluster about themselves.
You are the one who has to live in the stories you create but you are also the one who creates the stories that you live in. You are the actor and the director and it’s up to you to choose the overall purpose of your story.
When people finally find a purpose to follow, they often look back with a top-down perspective and think, “My entire life has been leading to this.” You might think that the purpose you’ve created is so obvious that you feel silly for not seeing it before. All that matters is that you have the ability to choose your own goals and then build universes with plausible steps toward achieving those goals. Your purpose is decided by you and you alone; go be something awesome!