Yesterday I had an astonishing realisation while I watched my cats sleeping on the sofa.
They were snoozing away peacefully. Blissfully content to spend the majority of their days chilling, relaxing and dozing without a care in the world.
And it occurred to me that our perspectives of life are entirely different. While cats nap all day (only interrupted by eating, casual strolls around the garden, stalking the occasional bird and, from time to time, defending their estate against foreign intruders), us humans are constantly on the go.
We rush around, stressed, anxious and breathless. Hustling, slaving, burning ourselves out. Sacrificing our emotional, mental and physical health so we can achieve, accomplish and contribute to society. So we have purpose and our life means something.
We believe that purpose is a prerequisite for happiness.
My whole life I abstained from activities that served no purpose. Despite enjoying the gentle exercise, I would never embark on a walk unless I did the shopping or post a letter at the same time.
I abandoned my favourite past-time of crocheting doilies because I personally hate them in my house and ran out of recipients for decorative needlework Christmas presents. And without anywhere to display them, the activity of creating them appeared useless.
Fabricating lacy coins of delight gives me satisfaction and happiness. I find it relaxing, de-stressing after a long day. But without real purpose, I felt lazy and guilty for wasting time on it.
Time that I could have invested in more productive, purposeful endeavours. Chores that I "should rather do" and "ought to complete instead". Like ironing, putting an extra hour in at work, running errands, keeping the house clean...
And the irony is that I was looking for purpose because I thought it would lead to happiness. While I abandoned the things that did make me happy because they had no purpose!
We all seek purpose in our lives and everything we do. Because somehow, we believe that we have to justify our mere existence. As if we didn't deserve to live if we had no purpose.
We feel anxious and distressed because we haven't found our purpose in life yet. As if we were unworthy of love and happiness if we didn't have something useful to contribute to the world.
And it all originates in our deep subconscious believe that we are inherently without worth.
My cats couldn't care less about any purpose in their lives. Because they have no concept of unworthiness.
As humans we grow up believing that we require worth to deserve a happy life. But that we are born as empty vessels, utterly devoid of worth.
Which leaves us devastated by the unbearable pain and anxiety of this cruel blow of fate.
So we devote our life to the accumulation of worth through the compulsive hoarding of possessions, achievements and accomplishments. We invest all our time and effort into activities that will gain us worth.
As such, every activity that we perceive as worth-increasing has purpose. And we prioritise it over things that are worth-neutral or might even diminish our worth (such as my crochet, because, let's face it, it's not the LL Cool J of hobbies).
Somehow, our success-obsessed society believes that more worth is gained from purpose-driven hard work, productivity and constant busyness than from relaxation and enjoyment-driven activities.
So, the relentless pursuit of worth through purposeful commitment and contribution leaves us stuck in a painful cycle of self-sacrifice, self-denial and exhaustion. We beat ourselves up for being lazy, not achieving enough compared to others. And we condemn ourselves if we haven't yet found our purpose in life.
Because, as we understand it, purpose earns us worth. And once we accumulate enough worth, we will finally be worthy of happiness and abundance.
You know, my cats would laugh about this twisted conundrum of human life (if they woke up long enough to care). Because the truth is that all this suffering is completely unnecessary.
The whole premise of our unworthiness is wrong. We were never worthless. Nor will we ever be.
We ARE worth personified. Worth is the essence of our Being. An integral part of our existence. Unchangeable, indestructible, unconditional.
We don't need to have purpose or be useful to be worth. The discovery of our purpose in life won't increase our worth. And being unaware of our purpose will not diminish it.
We deserve happiness. Right here, and right now. Just as we are.
And it is our task to seek it. Because our real purpose in life is to be as happy as we can possibly be! To learn from our mistakes, grow, evolve, remember our true, infinite, inner worth. And move closer and closer to fulfilment.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Finding purpose and making meaningful contributions is inspiring and uplifting and will add to our happiness.
But it is not a prerequisite for it!
So, maybe we should view the world more like cats do. Worry less about our achievements, productivity and the meaning of our life. And prioritise activities and things that bring us enjoyment.
Even if they serve no purpose at all.
Our lives are so busy. We can't always do what we want. But at least in your spare time, give yourself a break. Do what you love as often as you can. Without feeling guilty or beating yourself up for the lack of purpose.
I will now crochet a mountain of doilies (while my cats snooze on the sofa next to me). It might be unproductive and useless. But it sure makes me happy.
And it won't change a thing about my worth.
Dr Berni Sewell, PhD is a health scientist, energy healer and self-worth blogger. She is on a mission to make you feel good about yourself, no matter what. Download her free guide Instant self-worth: an easy 4-step solution to heal your self-worth in under 5 minutes a day” and start to boost your confidence today.