Some people might have converged purposes with their lives. With a converged purpose, I mean that every activity you perform leads to one purpose. For example, some people their sole purpose could be to make money. These people spend on all their time on making money, at work, in their spare time, they might to work, or got to parties to network to make money. While for other, purpose could be more diverged. A diverged purpose would be a set of different purposes across each activity in daily life. For these people, making money could be one purpose, but another purpose could be to love their partner, to care for their family, and to enjoy their hobby. These people might switch from purpose at any given time by distributing their activities. There are certain risks and benefits to both sorts (diverged and converged purpose) behavior. Nevertheless, the amount of purposes is more of a spectrum than just a duality. Purposes can be distributed but could be also quite connected. Someone’s sole purpose might be to make money but this person still needs to eat. So, he purposely retrieves food and eats it. So, you could say he has at least two purposes, making money and eating. However, you could also argue that he solely eats to make money eventually. He might have no intrinsic goal for eating and just perceives eating as a mean. Then, this person acquires no intrinsic value of eating in itself.
Still, you could question whether purposes could be really diverged or connected after all. I guess the divergence aligns with the amount of intrinsic value you find within activities you do. You could take the train (as a mean) with the purpose to visit your friend. You could also take the train because you enjoy the train (as an end) with an adjacent purpose to visit your friend (as an end). Diverged purposes would probably find more intrinsic value in many ranges of activity. While converged purposes believe that some activities are an actual waste of time. Just imagine the “converged money-making mind” sitting at a family party being forced to talk about the weather.
The network view on purpose
People with quite diverged minds (on the surface) hold several purposes with a seemingly intrinsic value for them that result in activities. Their activities seem like a distributed network with multiple hubs of partially connected nodes (see the figure below). A typical person with a converged mind has fewer amount of activities with only a few hubs with strongly connected nodes. The purposes of people often align with the activities they perform on a daily basis. For example, one who could not find a purpose in exercising, would probably not perform the activity. Nevertheless, one could also find no purpose in exercising itself but does it as a mean. This implies that there is an underlying structure of purpose beneath the surface of activities. While one person might exercise to be healthy, others exercise to look sexy, to recover, to interact people, and so on.
For everyone, this multi-layered network of activities and levels of purposes is different. The figure above is just a schematic example of a very simple network. Connections within a network might be stronger than others but these are not shown. Some activities might be connected and have multiple purposes. Moreover, some activities that are performed might hardly have a purpose at all. Some activities might be directly connected to the deepest core purpose of people and some networks might be a little bit twisted.
For some people, their networks are twisted because they don’t consciously think about the purpose of the activities they perform. They just do things, without really thinking why they do them. I believe that many people hardly question their actions and habits, and that many people don’t really know their definition of happiness. It is very difficult to have your own network of purposes (consciously) crystalized behind your activities. For example, making money is sometimes the main purpose of people. However, money is literally a mean. Money could not be a purpose on itself. Stating that making money is a purpose on itself could then be a cloak that hides deeper purposes of status, dominance, or other reasons. This cloak could be as well as conscious or unconscious. When deeper purposes are unconscious, people are really not aware of why they do the things they do and chase. So, when they find out, this realization might be shocking to them (just imagine a heavy psychological evaluation with a shrink). But let’s face it, hardly anyone has everything figured out their core purpose and why they do what they do. I think we could all benefit from a heavy session with a shrink. When you don’t really know why you do what you do or have some vague ideas, you have a network that is quite messy (a non-directed network). In this non-directed network, you will find loose connections and knots within the network, like a bird nest. Where, for example, activities are not consequences of purposes or where purposes do not really emerge towards activities.
In directed networks, there is a clear structure within the purposes that make the activities. These people have reasons for the activities they perform every day. There is a certain alignment from the core purpose towards the activities they perform. Someone who works for 60 hours a week, has probably a clear directed network that is quite converged. But someone who performs many different activities (work, exercise, volunteering and so on) during the week with one sole purpose, could be directed but more diverged in their activities.
The reactive dynamic network
Purposes are often hidden from the environment. When one asks the network “c”, why are you volunteering? It is easy for him to say that he wants to make an impact. However, this person has multiple purposes for volunteering, that could remain hidden to avoid unpopular opinions (like the purpose of being recognized). A person can dynamically shift and change purposes at will. This could be as a response to the environment or internal dynamics. Purposes could be faked or people might not even know their own network. I believe the environment plays a large role into determining, crystalizing, and changing the purposes of people.
Interaction between purpose and activities
We would like to think that our activities are the result of our purpose. We desire to do things, and therefore we perform. It would be literally meaningless to do something without any purpose. However, we are creatures that are deeply connected to our environment. Laws, social groups (family, friends), and our physical environment often force us to perform activities that we have no intrinsic purpose for. We could than treat these activities as means in order to deal with our environment or we could flee from this environment. However, especially during our development we perceived our purpose through the things we do. Through the activities of interacting and learning our purpose emerges. It is thus a two-way interaction between the activities and our purpose. Through the interactions, activities and purposes emerge over time. As a result of that, your core purpose develops to be fragile or firm, depended on (the success of) the interactions with the environment and the sustainability of yourself. However, some people clearly state their purpose in the activities they perform while for others it is a more private matter. This is an ambiguous domain, as it is hard to see across the cloak that many people have.
Each day, we perform multiple activities on which we hardly reflect on the purpose of doing them. The things we do in our daily lives could be quite diverged or converged. Both types of networks have their own advantages and disadvantages. It is more important to think about our own purpose for the things that we do, in order to make sense of them. We often have multiples purposes and this is quite a complex network that is dynamic and could change through environmental and internal dynamics. Either way, finding our deepest core gives us the opportunity to make a clear structure towards the activities we perform. This is an interactive process that takes exploration of the self and the environment. Therefore, it is very important to reflect and talk to people (or shrinks) about our deepest purposes to make sure we are aware of our own reason for existence and crystallize who we are and do what we should do.
Not discussed (properly) – for next blogs:
Differences between surface- and core purposes
Long term versus short term purposes
Scales of these networks
The strength of connections
Dynamics of networks
The development of purpose