The Purpose Of Life In The Second Half of Life: Finding Significance & Meaning
I’m in my second half of life, so the topic of the purpose of life is dear to my heart. It’s been an interesting transition into this phase of life and certainly has not gone as planned. But then again, life doesn’t always go as planned.
As individuals enter the latter half of their lives, (let’s say after 40 or 45), a common pursuit is the search for meaning and purpose. Having accomplished many career and personal aspirations, they may still feel a void in their life.
As we move into and navigate the second half of life, let’s remember that just because we’re hitting our 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s doesn’t mean we can’t experience deep meaning, purpose, pursue new passions, kindle old ones, and enjoy new avenues for making a positive impact and contributing. Diving into a deeper relationship with God, engaging in acts of kindness and service in the community, and fostering close relationships with loved ones can all help us understand the purpose of life and bring a sense of fulfillment.
The Purpose of LIfe: What Is The First Half of Life About?
Finding who you are and what you are meant to do is important in life. Our society primarily prioritizes survival and success, especially in the first half of life. This focus on the basics of life has been a common theme in many cultures, due to the limited time available for personal pursuits. Creating a sense of self, finding a place to call home, forming relationships, becoming a part of a community, and feeling secure are all deemed crucial in building a strong foundation for a fulfilling life.
The first half of life is heavily focused on matters like money, education and achieving social status. It’s about complying to conventions and following rules that give us a sense of identity and self-worth. On the other hand, the second half of life is where many people never make it, as they are too preoccupied with the first task. It is a much deeper journey which involves understanding one’s own significance and importance in life.
What Is The Purpose Of Life?
The purpose of life according to God varies among different religious beliefs and interpretations. In Christianity, it is believed that the purpose of life is to have a personal relationship with God, to love and serve Him, and to fulfill His plan for our lives. In Islam, the purpose of life is to worship Allah and follow His commandments, to seek knowledge and understanding, and to lead a righteous life. In Hinduism, the ultimate purpose of life is to attain self-realization and union with the ultimate reality. These are just a few examples, and different religions may have their own unique views on the purpose of life.
Finding our true purpose in life can be a long journey as it goes beyond just doing the tasks in front of us. It’s about finding the deeper meaning within those tasks.
The challenge is that we often spend so much time and effort on the first task of building our identity, our ego, that we don’t realize there’s a second task of finding our purpose. This can lead us to hold onto our old ways even when they aren’t helping us grow.
Let Go Of The Old & Embrace The New
As we age, we can embrace new experiences with a strong sense of self, or ego, but this often requires letting go of our old ways and being open to change. Let’s see what Jesus said about this in the book of Luke:
“And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
This passage is often interpreted as a metaphor for the need for change and renewal. It suggests that new ideas and ways of thinking must be embraced and that old, established traditions may need to be discarded in order to make room for growth and progress.
Essentially, this means being willing to replace old ways with better ones in order to embrace new opportunities in life.
Two Phases of Life
Metaphors such as “beginner and expert” and “apprentice and master” are often used to distinguish between the two phases of life. Understanding the distinction can only be achieved by experiencing the latter half of life, as it cannot be learned from books or from others. Each generation must make their own spiritual discoveries, as relying on the experiences of previous generations is not enough.
The journey of discovering the purpose in life and identity in life is a personal one, and cannot be accomplished solely through external means such as the Bible, psychology, formulas, spiritual teachers, or books. Attempting to bypass the first part of the journey, which is building a strong sense of self, will result in missing out on the full benefits and understanding of its limitations.
This journey must be taken by each person themselves, as it is unique to their own experiences and circumstances. This is one reason we should not judge another’s path. It’s unique to them, just like yours is unique to you.
Focusing too heavily on building identity in the first half of life can mean then that many remain unaware of what lies beyond. We may be overly consumed with our need for financial stability, status, and a hope for an afterlife, rather than focusing on our own personal growth, significance and enjoyable experiences in this world.
Religion may become a way to try to secure this afterlife, while forgetting about the importance of one’s purpose here now. Survival is then more important than learning and growing through meaningful experiences.
I like how Bill Plotkin differentiates life into two parts – the survival dance and sacred dance. Many people never leave survival dance, which is concerned with identity, boundaries, superiority, and security, but these are ego-related and not spirit-related. The spirit knows its importance and goes beyond these security questions.
Ways to Make an Impact
For me, seeking significance and fulfillment during my second half of life involves me letting go of ego and embracing my spiritual life wholeheartedly. This is my personal choice and journey. Embracing the reality of God and God’s kingdom brings me a sense of peace and purpose.
Letting go of or shedding the ego allows for a more humble and fulfilling existence. I am spirit, creating by God, and live and move and have my being in Spirit. For me, it’s that simple and this is something I meditate on daily.
It’s important to find what works for you and to continue learning and growing on your spiritual journey.
The following are some ways you can find meaningful contribution and fulfillment in the second half of life. It requires exploration and experimentation. It requires an open mind. It also requires trusting the God is good and has your back.
There are many ways to learn, grow, and make an impact, beyond the traditional career paths pursued earlier in life.
Volunteering in the Community
Volunteering in your local community is a great way to give back and have a sense of purpose. Through volunteer work, you can develop new skills, make new connections, and be part of something larger than yourself. All of this can certainly help you discover a greater purpose of life.
Developing New Hobbies and Interests
Developing new hobbies or interests is another way to contribute and make an impact in the second half of life. Whether it’s learning a foreign language, taking up woodworking or painting, or joining a book club – engaging in activities that bring joy can bring a newfound sense of purpose and fulfillment after retirement.
Engaging in Spiritual Practices Helps You Find The Purpose of Life
Engaging in spiritual practices can also provide a source of meaning during the later stages of life. Whether it’s through meditation, prayer, or other religious activities – engaging with spirituality can bring a sense of connectedness to something greater than ourselves.
Strengthening Family and Friendship Helps You Find Purpose in Life
Finally, maintaining strong relationships with family and friends is essential for well-being as we age. Developing meaningful connections and being part of a community can bring a sense of purpose to life during the second half.
These are just a few of the many ways to find significance and fulfillment during the second half of life. Exploring different avenues for making an impact and contributing in meaningful ways can bring joy and satisfaction at any age.
In conclusion, finding a greater revelation of God and God’s ways in the second half of life can be a deeply fulfilling and transformative experience. Cultivating a deeper spiritual connection with the divine through practices such as meditation, prayer, and contemplation, can bring a sense of peace, joy, and purpose to our later years, as well as a deeper understanding of our place in the world and in relation to God.
I find that through spiritual practices and a deep relationship with Spirit, I can cultivate a sense of inner peace, joy, and fulfillment that transcends the limitations of this earthly plane. Ultimately, my goal is to know and love God more intimately, and lavish unconditional love on others, which brings me a sense of ultimate purpose and fulfillment as I grow older.
I hope you too can find this kind of fulfillment and purpose.
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