Is it a Privilege to Talk About Purpose?

In his infamous hierarchy of needs, Maslow argues that safety (eg: steady employment, health, and property) must be secured before one can spend any serious time thinking about self-actualization. Yet modern researchers suggest that having a sense of purpose is crucial to healthy development. What do you think? Is purpose only for the privileged? 
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I think that purpose and hope display a strong positive correlation...once a person obtains a world view that comprises them living for something greater than themselves, then there comes a hope that keeps them going and working towards making a better life for themselves. Where there is no hope and no sense of purpose, one can only wallow in pity and despondency which in turn takes away the desire to rise up out of poverty.

Then again, purpose may simply be a drive towards a better quality of life. If an individual has enough drive to work hard for their basic needs, at the bottom of Maslow's heirarchy...isn't that purpose?

Answered over 2 years ago kamutho 2 from Kenya


Of course it is a privilege to talk about purpose! But it is a privilege that everyone deserves to have. One of my favorite parts of the Echoing Green paradigm for social entrepreneurs is how we value the specific access that individuals have to the communities they seek to serve. One of the most meaningful ways to have access to a community is to be a part of that community. With that in mind, I believe that everyone has the possibility to find purpose and meaning in their life. Sometime purpose gets confused with totally selfish decision making. Privilege really  facilitates super selfishness, but not what I define as finding your purpose. Sure having a safety net allows you to make more mistakes and bounce back more quickly from them, but struggle also creates moments of obligation to the outside world. We find purpose when we combine what we are excellent at doing with our unique vision of a better world.

Answered over 2 years ago taliesin gilkes-bower 2 from United States


I would argue that those whohave not met their safety needs in a satisfactory (to them) manner have a difficult time thinking about purpose — or finding satisfaction in purpose. That said, I think most of us who are struggling do SEEM to be searching for purpose. We often find ourselves asking “why me? Why am I struggling while the rest are fine.” In the past five years I’ve spent time struggling as the step-parent of a child with severe mental and emotionsl problems. There has been a sense of purpose that has arisen from this, a sense of “This is why I’m here.” Let me note that having a sense of purpose does not equal a sense of satisfaction. Purpose is often found on the @#$% end of the stick.  Yes, an examination of purpose is necessary for some sort of personal growth. For a further examination of this idea, I highly recommend Marc Sundeen’s excellent book, “The Man WHo Quit Money.” 

Answered about 2 years ago rraabfaber2 2 from United States


Not at all! I think that becomes clear when one considers that the opposite of having a purpose is “meaninglessness.”  Dr. William Damon not only defines a noble purpose, he also offers concrete examples of in everyday, ordinary life. According to Professor Damon, “A mother caring for her child, a teacher instructing students, a doctor treating patients, a citizen campaigning for a candidate for the sake of improving the community, all are pursuing noble purposes. So too are legions of ordinary people…”  (Lobdell, Terri. “Getting Off the Treadmill” [Cover Story]. Palo Alto Weekly, Nov. 18, 2011, p. 36.)  http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/morguepdf/2011/20111118.paw.section2.pdf

Certainly many of these people are far from what anyone would consider “privileged.” 

In fact, according to psychologist Madeline Levine, privilege may be more of a deterrent to purpose. She writes that “heavily dependent on their ‘public’ success for a sense of self, many of these youngsters have little in the way of authentic purpose in their lives, leaving a void where conscience, generosity and connection should be.” (Lobdell, Terri. “Whose Problem is it Anyway?” Palo Alto Weekly, Nov. 18, 2011, p. 42.)
Answered about 2 years ago exdir1 143 from United States


An interesting article on the topic on the Harvard Business Review blog – http://blogs.hbr.org/haque/2012/10/ismeaningafirstworld_probl.html

Answered about 2 years ago linda kay klein 142 4 from United States
about 2 years ago exdir1 said:

Thought provoking. Thanks for sharing it. BTW: the link above must have become corrupted, so I’m re-posting it here: