Having a sense of your purpose in life and working towards that purpose.

a.k.a. idealism?

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • aimlessness
  • purposelessness

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere


Inspirational quotes

  • “If we have our own why of life, we shall get along with almost any how.” (Nietzsche)
  • “Though the Odes number three hundred, one phrase can cover them all, namely, ‘With purpose undiverted’.” (Analects of Confucius, II.II)
  • “What is a man / if his chief good and market of his time / Be but to sleep and feed? – a beast, no more.” (Hamlet)
  • “The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the thought that the business of one’s life is to help in some small way to reduce the sum of ignorance, degradation and misery on the face of this beautiful earth.” —George Eliot
  • “Noble examples stir us up to noble actions; and the very history of large and public souls, inspires a man with generous thoughts. It makes a man long to be in action, and doing something that the world may be the better for; as protecting the weak, delivering the oppressed, punishing the insolent.” ―Seneca
  • “It is re­mark­a­ble that there are few men so well em­ployed, so much to their minds, but that a lit­tle mon­ey or fame would com­mon­ly buy them off from their pres­ent pur­suit.” ―Thoreau
  • “A person may not know the purpose of his life, but he should know how to live. A worker at a big plant may not necessarily know the purpose of his labor, but if he is a good worker, he should know how to do well what he should do.” —Tolstoy