Part Two: Purpose System Development

Being human, our decisions are rather easily biased by our personal needs and desires, many times even the whimsical. Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” is a theory of how we innately prioritize the fulfillment of our “needs” (from the bottom up).

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

If we spend efforts to understand and develop the prioritization of our needs and values, we may regain self-control over our decision-making and, ultimately, our lives. Treating the facets of our values and lifestyles as big decisions, we may find compromise such that we fulfill both our lower level needs and adhere to the values that most resonate within us, finding higher fulfillment.

Note: This is only a vague guideline. There is a reason why there is minimal explanation. It is best that one takes the initiative to define one’s own path, recommended through writing with careful thought and creativity.

Step 1: Re-Prioritizing Lifestyle

Health (exercise, sleep, diet, mental)
Working to survive (food, water, shelter, clothing)
Working for luxury (material desires)
Leisure (relaxation, indulgence, socializing, travel)
Charity and Contribution
Improving oneself (intellectually, emotionally etc.)
Finding love, spending time with Significant Other
Spending time with Family, support and traditions
Spending time with Friends, support and traditions
Furthering one’s Passions (activities we find ourselves naturally enjoying the most and love to lose ourselves in doing)
Furthering one’s self-prescribed Purpose and subsequently, potential future Passions (how we want to affect the world, the issues most important to oneself)

Something to think about:

Eternal Recurrence Question
“What if some day a demon were to appear and dictate to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live innumerable times more’ … Would you throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse this demon? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'”
Nietzsche wants you to consider whether eternal repetition of your life’s choices is a curse or a boon, and in so asking, he forces you to assign a value to your actions: if you are proud of them. No matter if you would repeat your life or not, your future choices, in the light of this dilemma, will be more considered and more honest than those made without it; ultimately, more moral. Reduced to an ethical maxim, Eternal Recurrence may read: “Do not commit yourself to any action you would never repeat in the same circumstances.” This exercise is preferable to the maxim “live life as if you will die tomorrow” that may be biased towards indulgence and against long-term goals.

Step 2: Developing Purpose

Purpose creates for oneself direction and meaning in the face of life’s uncertainty, that otherwise leads to feelings of loneliness, helplessness, and constant anxiety. Purpose is different from morals/values in that it can be more specific, referring to various projects we may take on that express/fulfill our values, and further allows us to measure how we affect the world with our efforts (both intent and consequences). In essence, purpose is the plan of action and follow-through from our theory/ideals. Purpose may be far-reaching but should at least include realistic actions that may be taken in the short-term, and may take into account (1) your lifestyle (to realize how much resources you will have available to pursue your purpose), (2) your morals (to filter your passions/skills in determining a purpose aligned with your beliefs), and (3) your [potential] skills (what you are or will be good at).

Step 3: Testing the self-created Purpose System (Lifestyle and Purpose)

Questions to Test:
Do I hold myself to the same standard as other people?
What types of Values/purposes/contributions do I think people should strive for and how similar is it to my own? How should people spend their free-time (Work, Innovation, Pleasure, Whatever they want, Charity, Getting involved in society) and do I hold myself to the same standard? Kant similarly posed the Categorical Imperative question: Imagine that all people thought/acted in your way, would it be possible for the world to function or be a good place?
Big Picture Questions:
What is humanity’s purpose? Do I care where the human race should lead to and if so, where would I wish? If I knew that the human race would perish a few years after I died or that humans would not outlast the death of the Earth, would I be distraught? How does my purpose fit in the grand scheme of humanity? With what scope of impact should people think with when making decisions (ie only myself in mind, family/friends, country, humanity, Earth, the far future of any of these or just the present) and do I do so?

Questions to Test Purpose/Actions:
To what level should I/people take life as it comes or focus themselves (take life seriously)? Am I uncertain in my purpose such that I need to learn and experience the world more before I set myself to a path? Do I need to research to better figure out the actions to further my purpose? Do I need to change the way I live to better serve my purpose? What kind of people do I look up to? Do I need to change my attitude or explore options (ie being around other people with similar beliefs, find a mentor) in order to motivate and improve myself towards my purpose? Given my circumstances of your purpose (reliability, viability) and your lifestyle requirements, should you follow your purpose as a career (and is it necessary to?)? How important is current “perceived status” or money important when choosing a career? When we set a purpose/goals, should be it required to also remove all doubt from one’s purpose (to achieve max proactivity instead of passivity)?
Additional Questions to Self-Develop
Write down your definition of success
Write down your definition of success within the realm of one’s purpose
Write down things you want to improve
Write down things you won’t tolerate from yourself (ie never want to see yourself do again)

Ending: Acting upon our Purpose System

Do not be passive, Act: Aristotle argued that ethics/virtue is practical, and that the purpose of ethics is to become good (practice being virtuous), not merely to study/know (knowledge). In addition, people who can think and talk at a high moral level may not behave accordingly. “Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.” — Aristotle. When one studies ethics and one’s morals/beliefs, it is easier to notice how one’s actions align; act in the way you do because to do otherwise would be at odds with yourself. Being on a path true to your character carries with it a state of flow, where the thoughts about your next step come upon waking, unbidden, but welcome. Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence (finding rationalizations to avoid conflict even if we are of noble heart and see the need to act) and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. It also goes without saying that better evidence/facts/analysis and knowledge of the world, not just theory/ideas/ideals, help us hold more correct beliefs and make the correct actions that don’t betray our values with negative consequences (our actions are less like “guesses”). Peer-reviewed scientific or statistical evidence tends to be better than experiential/anecdotal knowledge.

Tips on acting and improving on our purpose: Seek mentors, People like to see you really want something and also have a strong reason why (try to understand yourself and your motivations)