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10 Quotes for Finding Your Purpose

The meaning of life is a question that has plagued philosophers for millennia, and in truth, there’s no universally applicable answer. Instead, it can be easier to ponder the question on an individual level. And finding our purpose doesn’t necessarily mean changing the world; sometimes a person’s most profound impact exists on a much smaller scale.

Whether it’s by caring for family, thriving professionally, or dedicating our lives to the betterment of others, we can all walk a path that leaves us feeling fulfilled. If we start to feel lost, it can help to return to our unique strengths and passions, and then put them to use. As the one and only Dolly Parton put it, "Find out who you are and do it on purpose."

In the end, what matters is not the breadth of our accomplishments, but how content we feel with each passing day. In support of that belief, here are 10 enlightening quotes about finding purpose in life.

The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn't matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.
— Barbara Hall, TV writer and producer

There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It's why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.
— Oprah Winfrey

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
— Howard Thurman, author, philosopher, and civil rights leader

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent.
— Billy Sunday, evangelist

Be brave enough to live the life of your dreams according to your vision and purpose instead of the expectations and opinions of others.
— Roy T. Bennett, motivational author

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.
— David Viscott, psychiatrist

The purpose of life for man is growth, just as the purpose of life for trees and plants is growth.
— Wallace D. Wattles, motivational author

The meaning of life is to find your gift. To find your gift is happiness.
— Terry Pratchett, fantasy author

Sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize your life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind.
— Khaled Hosseini, novelist

Photo credit: Stefania D'Alessandro/ Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

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About the Author
Bennett Kleinman
Bennett is a staff writer at Optimism as well as a freelance comedy writer. He's based in New York City.
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