Family & Education

5 Rules for Finding Purpose in Life

TIMEDecember 28, 2021

Today’s world is so full of fools who have turned the world into a chaotic mess that the most basic, common-sense statements become nuggets of profound wisdom. I almost stood up and cheered when I came across one of these the other day.

The statement in question was made by Abigail Shrier, an Oxford and Yale-educated lawyer turned independent journalist. Shrier is perhaps best known for her 2020 book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” a topic that hasn’t exactly won her many friends in the politically correct stratosphere.

Shrier kept her nonpolitically correct reputation intact during a recent speech to Princeton students in which she took polite swipes at our illogical society. Yet her speech didn’t just snipe at what was wrong with the world, it also offered five ways to return to sanity. Shrier’s advice pointed toward a life lived with purpose, rather than as just another automaton marching in lockstep to the drumbeat of the political and cultural elites.

Get Married

Official Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers show that the number of marriages per 1,000 people has declined from eight to six in the first two decades of the 21st century alone. This is down from more than 16 marriages per 1,000 people at the close of World War II, The Hill recently reported. Educational choices and greater financial independence for women drive this decline, but it’s also likely that fear—both of divorce and of risk-taking—contributes to it as well.

Yet those who avoid marriage are missing out, according to Shrier.

“You feel that frisson [or thrill in life] when you choose a person to commit yourself to, knowing full well that any marriage may fail,” she said.

Committing is a risk. Those who don’t commit will escape marriage difficulties. But in doing so, they forget that difficulties are what make someone a better person. Those who do make the commitment get the thrill of companionship and of looking out for someone besides themselves, along with the knowledge that traditional families make the world a better place in general.

Have Children

Birth rates are taking a beating along with marriage, and 2020 saw U.S. births reach their lowest point ever. Understandably, a world in chaos isn’t exactly the type of environment people want to bring a child into. Children are also a lot of work and even put parents at a disadvantage monetarily and timewise.

But having children is still one of the most thrilling, purposeful moments of life, according to Shrier, even though there’s always risk “when you bring children into a world where there are no guarantees of their safety or success.” Children are an eternal investment. They bring joy, laughter, and even an opportunity for self-reflection—a mirror for your faults and an incentive for self-improvement in order to be a good role model to their little watching eyes.

Work Hard

Great purpose comes “when you summon the courage to fashion a life, something that will remain after you are gone,” Shrier said. There’s a joy that comes from working with your hands on something meaningful, not only for your family, but for the world in general.

Landing a job in the corporate arena is considered the epitome of success. But sometimes those who have the most influence in life are those who do the simple things, doing their best to brighten their little corner of the world. As the classic Christmas movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” demonstrates, the small things in life—such as providing daily meals for your family, befriending a neighbor, or volunteering at church—can have a greater influence for good in the world than we’ll ever know, if they’re done faithfully.

Its_A_Wonderful_Life
Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Karolyn Grimes in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (Public domain)

Be Principled

“[Speaking] the truth publicly—with care and lucidity,” is the fourth thing that Shrier said gives her purpose in life. Speaking truthfully can get a person in major trouble these days, thanks to cancellation, job loss, or other things. Yet there’s nothing like knowing that you’ve spoken the truth, regardless of the cost.

Don’t Be Bought

In conjunction with the above point, many are quick to cave or sacrifice their principles, whether it be for monetary gain, personal safety, or even to retain a good reputation in “woke” society. But by being principled and telling the world that “you cannot buy me with flattery,” you also give life greater meaning and integrity, according to Shrier.

There’s a commonality in each of the points Shier made: each involves an element of being selfless or self-sacrificing. In order to marry and have children, one must give of oneself continually, both to maintain the conjugial relationship and to ensure that the little ones survive. The same goes for working with your hands and helping others. And when it comes to being principled and avoiding flattery, you must lay aside your own good opinion of yourself, as well as the opinions others have of you in order to do right.

But then, isn’t that what life is all about? Laying down one’s self for others?

A wise person once told us that laying down our lives for others is a sign of the greatest love. Perhaps it’s that reason alone why Shrier finds so much more life purpose in these things than in “marching lockstep” and “obeying the algorithm.”

This article was originally published on Intellectual Takeout.

Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout and the online editor of Chronicles Magazine, both projects of the Charlemagne Institute.