What is purpose?
the desire for what we do to matter to other people.
It’s from The Art of Impossible, Steven Kotler and a bigger quote for more context:
TRANSFORMING PASSION INTO PURPOSE
Passion is a potent driver. Yet, for all of its upside, passion can be a fairly selfish experience. Being all consumed means you’re all consumed. There’s not much room for other people. But if you’re going to tackle the impossible, sooner or later, you’re going to need some outside assistance. Thus, at this point in the process, it’s time to transform the fire of passion into the rocket fuel of purpose.
It was University of Rochester psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan who first discovered this fuel.14 In the next chapter, we’ll get to know these scientists and their work even better. For now, just be aware that, in the mid-1980s, this duo introduced “self-determination theory” and, with it, their concept of “relatedness.” Self-determination theory has since gone on to become the dominant theory in the science of motivation, with relatedness remaining a core component.
Their original idea was simple: As social creatures, humans have an innate desire for connection and caring. We want to be connected to other people and we want to care for other people. At a basic biological level, we need to relate to others to survive and thrive; and, as a result, are neurochemically motivated to fulfill this need.
More recently, researchers have extended this notion, expanding the idea of “relatedness,” the need for caring and connection, into the concept of “purpose,” or the desire for what we do to matter to other people. Purpose takes all the motivational energy found in passion and gives it an extra kick.
From Peak Performance:
"Our “ego” or “self” or “central governor” serves as a protective mechanism that holds us back from reaching our true limits.
When faced with great challenges, our ego is biologically programmed to shut us down, telling us to turn in the other direction.
By focusing on a self-transcending purpose, or a reason for doing something beyond our “self,” we can override our ego and break through our self-imposed limits. To the extent you can, link your activities to a greater purpose (more on how to do this in Chapter 9). This way, when you are faced with formidable challenges and your mind is telling you to quit, you can ask yourself why you are undertaking them. If the answer is “for someone or something greater than myself,” you’ll be more likely to push onward.
Thinking less about your “self” is one of the best ways to improve yourself."
(Brad Stulberg, Steve Magness, Peak Performance)
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