The Importance of Purpose ($)

Being co-creative means accepting all the things that bug you.

Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Lincoln Stoller, PhD, 2021. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

We Are Tainted By Wisdom

I draw inspiration from my dreams, and this inspiration centers on finding my purpose and things purposeful. Like many things that come from dreams, the ideas feel clear but are unconsolidated. Ideas that are unconsolidated spin in many directions and follow an undisciplined narrative. Dream ideas are like a person with many faces.

The first epiphany is that wisdom is unconsolidated. It is multifaceted and laden with what appear to be contradictions. Wisdom appears in dreams because dreams are honest and complex. That is why dreamwork is important, and dreams can provide more useful guidance than rational conclusions, but you have to study them.

Wrestling insight into sound bytes sounds good, but accomplishes little. For example, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorable quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” sounds wise but tells us nothing. If you didn’t feel this way to begin with, this admonition would not change you. It encourages anything. In addition, Gandhi didn’t say it. What he said was not even close (Morton, 2011).

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The Feature Film is Your Life

Managing life is a project in managing your mind. Your experience is a projection of your perceptions of which you are the author, cameraman, and editor. There appear to be many lines of control, many actions you can take that will change how things work out. It’s your motivations that lie at the root of things. Changing your behavior has a limited effect without changing your motivation.

Logic, reasons, and explanations come to mind after you’ve decided what to do. Your reasons justify the outcomes you aspire to. Forget being reasonable. You live a life of fantasy. And while this may make you nervous, since it may contradict the facts, it is the truth. You will want to do what satisfies you, and if you want to do better, explore your motivations. Not only those that represent the change you wish to see in the world, but all your motivations!

Purpose fuels your motivations, and it is not disciplined. Neither are your dreams disciplined, and that’s why they are important. They are a more honest reflection of your authentic feelings than your trussed personality, which is conflicted. It is better to be honestly confused than destructively consistent unless, of course, destruction is the change you need.

In my recent dream, I felt aligned with my sense of purpose, and my purpose was clear because it was undefined. This is the lesson that emotion teaches us: you can be emotionally resolved without reason, and reasons are unnecessary. It is healthier to be emotionally resolved without justification than it is to contrive reasons for the emotions you would like to have.

Consider a purpose we all share: the purpose to live. There is no reason for this. You can make up reasons and you can espouse them, but they are superficial and hardly provide motivation.

With that same insight, you can examine other senses of purpose that guide your life, and you won’t find much reasonable foundation for them, either. That does not mean every purpose is right, only that it is real. Like minerals that have erupted from the earth, your purposes define your landscape. They are not made more or less by your paying attention to them.

You Are A Jigsaw Puzzle

The pieces you assemble to form your personality don’t really fit. You force them together. The ones that match your sense of purpose fit, but if you would admit how badly the others fit, it would embarrass you!

You are adamant that this is who you are. This explains how you behave and your friends don’t contradict you. Your colleagues and acquaintances take this as a given. They will not try to change you as they see no attraction in it. You are a piece in their jigsaw puzzle world.

You would not take advice from most people. This is one boundary we all have, the boundary of no interference. We create this boundary to protect ourselves, but it is to our misfortune.

It is the people who don’t care who see parts of us most clearly, yet they’re not motivated to inform us, and we’re not interested in listening to them. In this way, the ill-fitted jigsaw puzzles of our personality, our ill-fitted rationalizations, go unchallenged.

We spend most of our lives putting out the fires that threaten our dry tinder personalities. A much safer and healthier approach would be to avoid living in these flammable structures. That would mean living more self-contained lives, less dependent on the guidance and rewards of others. It would mean being more authentic to our different senses of purpose and less insistent on being obedient to a few dominating directives.

Our typically dominant directives are longevity, comfort, support, and being treated with respect. The essential senses of purpose we typically ignore are spiritual value, strength, creativity, and honesty. If you’re like most people, then you won’t even see these as motivations. You will see them as means rather than ends.

Few people see spiritual value, strength, creativity, and honesty as fundamental motivations. These are things we typically use to further our longevity, respect, comfort, and intellectual support, not the motivations for them. But if you return to how you thought as a child, before you lost contact with your essential self, these were your primary values. A child’s life is built on spiritual value, strength, creativity, and honesty.

Over time, these channels became diverted to serve institutional needs. Over time, you converted to the institutional thinking that sees you as inadequate and unjustified. Now you feel unworthy and insubstantial. You allow yourself to be used and you’ll violate your once primary values in order to use others.

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Resources Experience 1% Growth and 99% Decay

The populations of 99% percent of the species that have existed on earth have collapsed, and these species have gone extinct. Some estimates are that 99.9% have gone extinct, but there is no accurate number (Pearce, 2015).

There are two lines to your evolution: growth and decay. Growth is where you recreate yourself in new environments. In this process, you are vulnerable and uncertain in creating new connections. Creation is uncertain and often uncomfortable.

Your situation decays as you use the resources that provide you with comfort. Living always uses something. You exploit existing resources, further imbalance, and move toward extinction. When you endorse the status quo, you support the decay of others and the extinction of yourself.

One percent of your evolution is growth, while the remaining 99% uses nonrenewable resources and leads to a decay of opportunity. Your personal evolution recapitulates general species evolution. If you are not renewing relationships and uncovering resources, you’re exhausting what you have.

Ice cubes cool things down as they melt. Fire heats things up in a process that ultimately destroys them. This is the nature of opportunity: it’s either created or used up. Purpose is the connection between the two. Is your purpose reactionary or creative?

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Purpose is What You Aim For

Most of us take the untenable position that we’ll retain all we have while looking for something better. Fearful of chaos, attached to situations we create, we believe we are flexible. We only consider opportunities that don’t risk our plans for comfort and safety. We are caught in the monkey trap.

monkey trap: English, Noun
1. (literally) A cage containing a banana with a hole large enough for a monkey’s hand to fit in, but not large enough for a monkey’s fist (clutching a banana) to come out; anecdotally used to catch monkeys that lack the intellect to let go of the banana and run away.

2. (figuratively) A clever trap of any sort, that owes its success to the ineptitude or gullibility of the victim.

Codependence is being woven into the inflexibility of others. If change is hard, novelty unwelcome, and creativity unsupported, then you are codependent. Codependence is rarely built on a sense of purpose. The only exceptions I know are religious, in which case it becomes sanctimonious. In other cases, codependence is based on fear and inadequacy.

A healthy sense of purpose does not depend on approval or reward. It sustains itself as the root of your identity. Healthy purpose generates faith in oneself and your value as an independent person. You are not a single person with one set of values; you have many variable personalities. A healthy sense of purpose is like a sail that can be trimmed to catch the winds of change.

You cannot embrace your sense of purpose from a single perspective. Different purposes are rooted in your different emotions and are positively connected to each other. They are the various motivations of the close-knit congregation of your personalities.

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The Things That Motivate You

Purpose is best seen from a dreamlike point of view as a community of positive, co-creative attitudes. I would question my sense of purpose if I didn’t feel a unified sense of purpose in my dreams. If I held to purposes that conflicted with each other, then this conflict would have arisen in my dreams.

As an exercise to connect with your purpose, meditate on your motivations just before sleep and in your pre-wakefulness. In these states, as your conscious mind submerges, a chaotic range of possibilities leaks in from the unprotected boundaries of your subconscious.

Imagine that you open the screen door in the twilight of a buggy, summer night, and you let all the bugs in. Instead of swarming to bite and annoy you, they sweep past your head to whisper reminders of how you feel. Being co-creative means accepting all the things that bug you; accepting all the messages either in agreement with them, or with respect for them despite their contrary nature.

“To begin to think with purpose is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment.”
James Allen (2006)


Allen, J. (2006). As a Man Thinketh, Project Gutenberg eBook. Retrieved from:

Morton, B. (2011, Aug 29). Falser Words Were Never Spoken, New York Times. Retrieved from:

Pearce, F. (2015 Aug 17). Global extinction rates: Why do estimates vary so wildly? Yale Environment 360. Retrieved from:

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