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The Restaurant at the End of Your Life 

One of the cornerstones of Level-3 living is having a life purpose. My life purpose is the most important priority in my life. I can and do have other priorities, so in order to accomplish them and be true to myself I need to arrange my life so that I do them at the same time as I am living my life purpose.

Suppose youíre driving down an unfamiliar highway. In the car with you are the people closest to you. Itís getting late, and you have a long way to go, and youíre getting hungry. You need to choose a restaurant to stop and have dinner, but you donít know what lies ahead. You keep passing restaurants, but none of them clearly jumps out at you as the place to eat. You want to stop someplace decent, maybe even the best place possible. How do you decide?

There is actually a mathematical formula for maximizing your chance of eating at the best restaurant. If you estimate the total number of restaurants on the road and divide by e (approximately 2.7), then that is the number of restaurants you should check out before stopping at the next one thatís better than any of those. But for this to work, you have to really examine all those first few restaurants. For instance, if you estimate 81 restaurants on the highway ahead, you really need to examine those first 30 to give you an informed choice over the final 51.

Suppose you live to be 81. The more fully you participate in those first 30 years of life, the more apparent your life purpose will become when you decide to uncover it. My life purpose is like a Zagat Guide to the restaurants of life. Itís a guide that only applies to me. If Iím unclear about my life purpose, the only way to discover it is by playing hardófully immersing myself in the parts of life that attract me. Playing it safe and being a spectator are just ways of marking time, of passing restaurants without gaining either food or knowledge.

A life purpose is not a mission. It is a direction, a priority. It pertains more to lifeís quality than to the quantity of my accomplishments, yet by being clear about my life purpose I will leave a trail of accomplishment that I am proud of. A life purpose is not a statement of the way I desire to contribute to the world. It is my contribution to the world. By expressing myself fully, I fulfill my place in the world to the betterment of all those who come in contact with me. But their betterment is not my purpose.

Living my life purpose is easy. It requires courage because I must face guilt (an emotion that indicates I am going against my cultural indoctrination about how I should be) and resentment (likewise, an emotion indicative of a violation of cultural programming regarding how others ought to be). It requires consciousness to maintain focus in the face of lifeís attractive nuisances such as TV, power games, and spectator sports. But itís easy. Thereís no will power involved in living my life purpose. When Iím doing it, it feels good and right. I could do it for hours and days on end and never get tired.

Saying I donít have a life purpose is like saying Iím not going to stop at a restaurant and eat. At the end, Iíll be hungry, frustrated, and more confused than ever. Pick a place.

Richard Brodie
November 1999

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