Exploring Purpose in Psychology Class

So many people in this world are struggling with what to do with their lives.

An existential struggle that did not exist 100 years ago when jobs were more clearly defined.

Which is why it is essential to explore purpose in many different ways.



We must not confuse life purpose with occupation.

My occupation = Psychology Professor.

My life purpose is to lift people up and help them feel better.

Something I can do on weekends, at work, with friends, in my community, and well into my retirement years.

Our occupation transpires 9-5. Our life purpose unfolds 24/7.

Life Purpose Discussions – Everywhere!

The topic of finding one’s life purpose was an active discussion on social media (see screen shot below) and in psychology class (link to video) this week.

Social Media: What’s my gift?

This is how I walked a fellow instagrammer through the process of (re)discovering their life purpose:


Life purpose is a way of being.

A way of living and giving.

It is all encompassing.


Who we are is our life purpose.

We are 1 in 7.5 billion.

What makes us different also makes us indispensable.

The world needs our unique kind of wonderful.

No more waiting. No more searching.

Our life purpose is now.

A daily mission. Big and small.

Supporting others and sharing our gift.


We have purpose because we are alive.

Breath by breath. Step by step.

We are the dominos.

I hope you enjoy this video message on life purpose too.

Reflection Questions:

  1. When do you feel most alive and in flow?
  2. How is your life purpose different or the same as your occupation?
  3. If you could do any one thing for the rest of your life, and not worry about money, what would that be?
  4. In what ways did you feel ‘odd‘ or cast out when you were younger, only to realize later in life that your ‘differences‘ were your greatest strengths and sources of happiness?
  5. What unique, one-of-a-kind gift will you share with the world today?

We are all worthy – not because of what we do – but because of who we are. 🌷

91 thoughts on “Exploring Purpose in Psychology Class

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    1. You are so kind Sue! And I have no doubt that we share the same life purpose given all that you written and illuminated too. xo

      p.s. Don’t forget to watch the 2 minute video too. It’s a lot of fun. 🙂

  1. I like that chart you established, the things that go against the grain. It takes courage, doesn’t it? It’s challenging because sometimes your life purpose doesn’t provide you the validation that your work provides you. Such is life. I always admire that small subset of people who manage to have a life purpose and job that aligns.

    Of course, sometimes others scorn us for being different and don’t appreciate our gifts. One of my biggest challenges is that some folks just won’t get it. That’s okay, because I don’t get others. I try, but you know, I fall short.

    Thank you for another thought-provoking and helpful post. Cheers

    1. The best part of blogging is ‘meeting’ other bloggers like you Michael. The conversational element to your comments, encourages us to reflect and delve deeper into each thriving under pressure post. Thank you! Your comments always make my day! Andrea

  2. I enjoyed the post and the video. Such an important message – however, I wonder about asking oneself this question later in life (as opposed to college student age) after fulfilling many life purposes in the decades before.. When life situations shift and change; sometimes without warning. Having the life purpose question pop up “unexpectedly” is unnerving…as crucial as it is.

    1. Excellent points re. the developmental process and discovering one’s life purpose. Thank you for reading and for watching the video. Your reflections and insight take my post to another love. #grateful

    1. Brilliant example of this concept Marie. My big sister Noelle (my inspiration) has a brain injury and is in the same situation. She (and you) and one of many motivations for this post. A reminder that we are all worthy — not because of what we do. But because of who we are. Andrea xo

      1. Thank you Andrea! It was a great learning curve, prompted as you probably know, by your comments. Your sister Noelle’s brain injury must be very challenging for her, for you and for all your family but she is so much more than her injury! Much love, Marie xx

  3. I really enjoyed learning about the differences between having a purpose and having a career! And I really appreciate the visuals that you had to reinforce the differences!!!! I truly truly admire you and your work !!!!!

    Keep at it!

  4. Very interesting post, I am one that thinks I know my life’s purpose but know one around me will except it and just wants me to conform into what they think is normal.
    Thanks for writing this post.

    1. You are so welcome! Love knowing it underscores your faith in walking your own path.

      Keep being you Mark! Authentically you. It’s what makes you (and your life purpose) indispensable. This is what you already know – for sure.

    1. Today’s mini life purpose challenge:

      How would you answer these questions Brad —

      1. When do you feel most alive?
      2. What have you been complimented on most often in your life?
      3. When do you feel get lost in the process and feel in flow?
      4. What trait makes you different and unique from the rest of your family and friends?

  5. Awesome!! Man you’re so right about we are human BEINGS!! We need to start being not doing.

    If I could choose one thing it would be to help show other people they don’t have to spend all their time working for money… in fact it’s better for EVERYONE if they didn’t do that.

    Thanks for this awesomeness


    1. I love your enthusiasm Mike!

      That is definitely your life purpose. You bring an energy and a positivity that inspires people to be their best self. “To change for the better” (love the title of your blog btw)

      Keep shining! Keep inspiring!
      The world needs MORE of you.

      Happy Sunday!

  6. Only when I lost my life as I knew it to be (my career, my social standing in the world, friends, family etc) did I come to understand what my purpose in life is.

    There I was standing on the ashes of what was, who I “thought” I was, and having no clue how to rebuild my life. Well, events began to happen and yes I did have free-will to accept or not, but my Heart strongly urged me to accept. From there as I accepted I learned how to listen to Spirit, how to be guided not by the world but by my Inner Guidance, and then one day I was encouraged to start my blog.

    Between how I care and Love cats who were really hurt by this world, my camera, my blog, and how I live my life on the foundation of LOVE, I found my purpose. Once found no one or nothing will take that from me.

    This is who I am. I define myself. No one else does or ever will again.

    THANK YOU for the continual uplifting, inspirational, life-giving posts you leave here, Dr. Andrea.

    I SO appreciate you!! Bless you! 💖

    1. Amy Rose, your story epitomizes the rising from the ashes of tragedy.

      Your experience gives your readers strength to rise up when times get tough.

      Remembering, even though it’s ‘messy in the middle’ — the light at the end of the tunnel will always be worth the chaos of the journey.

      Keep rising! Keep shining! Your purpose inspires us all.

      Andrea xo

  7. Such a beautiful message Dr Dinardo. Thank you, something I ponder frequently. I came to my conclusion that it’s who I am that is my life purpose. As you articulated, it’s the ‘transferable’ part of us, that lives on long after what we ‘do’ has ended…💐💞

      1. Thank you Dr Dinardo.
        Your kind words mean a lot.
        I love the power of words.
        Take care and keep up your amazing work 💐😘

  8. Thank you for offering us some very thought provoking questions. It’s only the last few years that I’ve really tuned into my purpose. You’ve clearly found yours. xx

    1. I love how you said “finally tuned into my purpose” Miriam. I so get this!

      Because I often say to students that discovering ourselves involves the parts of ourselves that no longer belong — revealing the diamond inside, that’s been there all along. xo

      A phrase I ended my TEDx talk with at the “Diamonds from Pressure” event:

  9. Wow! You really sound like a fantastic person to be involved in the psychology field. You know, I’ve been searching for a good therapist and psychiatrist for…ready? 30 years. 32 to be exact.

    But that is the truth. I got so worn out and so desperate that I just stayed with who I had. I’ve always stuck with jobs for years and years and the same with doctors. But I have to ask myself, what do I expect from them. Well anything. Living with constant anxiety, panic attacks is so draining, I don’t think that’s all that healthy for me just like my doctors have said that anti-anxiety medications are terrible for our brains. I appreciate that I don’t have pill pushers, but if that type of medication is all that will help me, he should give it to me. I will work with him about it. I will bring them so he can see I am not looking to abuse anything, I would just like to have a few years of enjoying life.

    But I enjoy reading your posts and I really have gotten a lot from them in one night! Thanks for your time!

    1. Wonderful knowing my psychology posts are helpful Mia! I put a lot of time and energy into my videos and writing. Your feedback gives me the bump in motivation I need (from time to time) to keep on creating. Wishing you a day filled with peace & good vibes!

  10. Love this, lots to think about. I smiled at how it resonated with the quote I posted today… thinking along the same lines💖 thanks for your inspiration. I love your calm, positive delivery!

  11. Children are so often raised solely focused on how to earn money and what career path to follow, that discovering one’s true life purpose (as you describe so well) may get buried in the process. Which may form an undercurrent of anxiety for years.

    This post is fascinating in its crucial simplicity – living out life knowing one’s purpose can be the key to a satisfied life. And maybe even (someday!) a more peaceful world. It all starts with the children. In a perfect world….

    1. Thank you for your heartfelt reflections on this post. We are on the same page – metaphorically and literally. 😉

      The good news is that even though I don’t have access to all the children in the world, I am fortunate enough to have access to 500 college students each year. And after receiving your feedback on the importance of this message underscores my passion for sharing it with my students (and readers) – every chance I get!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! Your encouragement motivates me to keep on writing. And I equally appreciate how you’ve found your purpose in helping others. How lucky they are to have your support. Have a wonderful night Mark!

  12. Exactly…. and sometimes our job has nothing to do with our life purpose and we feel frustrated… having a job that helps pursuing a higher goal is essential for our soul…

  13. It’s only in the last year, very roughly speaking, that I have discovered death. Not in a morbid sense but from a practical perspective. I’m 74 and still reasonably healthy but that doesn’t stop me wondering. Wondering about the future. Wondering how long that will be. Wondering when I will have to actively care for my wife (she has Parkinson’s disease). And more.

    So one’s purpose seems to require some adjustment? For very practical reasons. For example, I find myself holding back from volunteering these days. Because I don’t want to over-extend myself. I get very annoyed at my poor recall as well!

    (And I’m a humanist.)


    1. The older I get, the more my life purpose becomes about each day – versus each year. So rather than viewing volunteering as a ‘big commitment’, instead reconsider it as a day to day decision. A choice that you can make depending on how you feel (and think). The bonus – FREEDOM TO CHOOSE – the ultimate humanist perspective!

  14. Hi Dr. Andrea!
    Do you believe in serendipity? I completely do. It was a happy coincidence that I discovered your blog few months back when I needed it the most. And since then, I always look forward to your posts. And you won’t believe it that today in the morning I was pondering over purpose of my life and then I came across this amazing post of yours (Well, a happy coincidence once again😅). Your words of wisdom always inspire and help me. Thank you so much❤

  15. This is very insightful. I’m also of the opinion that we can discover our purpose by simply being ourselves and pointing out that thing that comes naturally to us

  16. My wife and I were literally talking about this last night. I find myself called to helping others. It’s been a part of everything I have done in the past, and everything I do now. As a leader in the National Guard, I feel that my purpose is to serve my subordinates by providing them with the clearest and most direct path to success by eliminating obstacles and empowering them with the knowledge, training, and equipment to get the job done. At work, as a product manager, I feel that my purpose is to help others utilize technology as a way to make them more efficient, to make their days easier, and to remove the hurdles between them and success through technology. As a dad to grown adults, my purpose is to provide them with advice, love, and any support they may need. As a husband, my purpose is to support my wife in her career, to help her in the house and with our meals, and to provide her with a partner she can rely on in any situation.

    The more we look at our purpose beyond our jobs, the more fulfilling life becomes and the easier it becomes to take pure joy out of what can otherwise become mundane and repetitive.

    1. I love the divine timing of our writing community. And how our writing translates so far beyond the pages of our blogs.

      Based on your reflections “I find myself called to helping others. It’s been a part of everything I have done in the past, and everything I do now.” there is no doubt that you are living and breathing your life purpose every single day.

      And the best part is that you have a wife who supports your life purpose as much as you support hers!

      Thank you for sharing & for dropping by! Keep living the dream! You made it so. 🙂

  17. Fabulous post love it…human being vs human doing. Most definitely – work should not define us.

    Our purpose in life is to show humanity to one another. To experience, express and grow. To be kind , wise and compasdion to all humans and the earth. A job is money to live. But our purpose is to a beautiful character filled human being… in my humble opinion.

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