Why are you here?
That was the main question posed throughout the book I just read called The Why Cafe. The Why Cafe was one of the most unique, eye opening books that I’ve read (not that I’ve read that many books). It’s a book I’d highly recommend to everyone, so I don’t want to spoil too much of it and its story. But I want to take some time to reflect on a few of the things I learned and discuss some of the keys takeaways.
So, back to that first question. Why are you here? Woah. That’s pretty heavy. It was something the narrator tackled throughout the book. He struggled with it initially and gradually began to grasp the concept. That’s a pretty tough question to ask yourself. You’re basically asking why do you exist. Why did God put me on this earth? Does anyone fully know the answer?
There was a term introduced in the book to help us better understand that question – Purpose for Existence (or PFE). Ok, great. So what is my PFE? How is this fancy term supposed to help me? Well, it’s really not that complicated, at least not the way it’s presented in the book. It’s more broad than you might realize. It can be as simple as helping people, making people laugh, serving others, etc. Discovering your PFE doesn’t need to be this stressful experience that takes a lifetime to figure out. Everyone’s PFE is different. For example, someone’s PFE might be to help people, and they’re way of fulfilling that might be to become an accountant. The difficult part, however, is finding ways to fulfill your PFE.
There is so much pressure from society to fit in. One of the biggest pressures we all encounter is money. Will I be able to make enough money to provide for myself? What about a family? Will I be able to take a vacation? We are so motivated by money. But why? It’s because we need money to buy things that help us escape from the stresses of life. We need to buy the newest phone, the biggest TV, go on the best vacations because they distract us from our struggles and our stress. Work is really stressing me out lately, I need to take a trip to the beach to just get away and clear my head.
But what if we always did the things that made us feel fulfilled? What it we were always seeking out the things that made us happy? We wouldn’t need to escape from the stress of work, school, bills, etc. Therefore, we wouldn’t need to spend as much money in order to buy so many things. So basically, only do things that make us happy. Sounds pretty easy, right?
It’s one thing to discover your PFE. It’s another to come up with ways to fulfill yourself. What if I felt fulfilled just watching The Office 24/7? Is that socially acceptable? That pressure from society to fit in is a HUGE factor. I want to be accepted by my friends, coworkers, neighbors, and especially strangers. But at the end of the day, what’s more important, appeasing other people or experiencing true inner joy and fulfillment? And no, that’s not a trick question.
We’ve all heard the phrase that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s such a cliche but it’s so true. It’s our experiences that determine our happiness. None of my best memories have come from making a big purchase. They’ve been a result of experiences that made me feel alive. The mountains in Utah made me feel alive, not my iphone.
Alright, so what is my PFE? This is something I’ve put a lot of thought into, even before I read The Why Cafe. I think it’s something that everyone ponders from time to time. It’s something we ask ourselves in different ways – what’s my calling, what’s my vocation, etc. And I believe my PFE/calling/vocation is to serve people. That sounds simple, but for me it means everything. I believe God has put me on this earth to serve people, and more specifically, to lead others closer to Him. Serving others is what makes me feel fulfilled, it’s what makes me feel like I’m making a difference. Serving others is what makes me feel alive.
There are many ways in which I fulfill my PFE. My last post was about how much I love my youth group. That’s definitely the biggest way in which I feel fulfilled by serving others. I always leave youth group events feeling like I’m fulfilling my calling and making a difference. My trip to El Salvador is another example of how I truly felt like I was responding to my call to serve.
I mentioned earlier that once you identify your PFE the hard part is then finding ways to fulfill that calling. I also talked about what it would be like to always do what makes you happy and makes you feel fulfilled. That for me is the biggest obstacle. I know what makes me feel fulfilled. I have such a strong desire to seek those things out. However, there are things that get in the way of that. The main issue for me is my job. My job is relatively easy and there are definitely aspects of it that I enjoy. But I get no fulfillment from it. I don’t leave work feeling that I served people or answered my calling. It’s been a huge struggle for me because I feel like I’m wasting my potential. I know that I’m capable of doing so much more to fulfill my PFE and as a result I feel stuck. I expend so much energy stressing my lack of fulfillment from my job that it just drags me down in every aspect of my life. In essence it depletes my motivation to fulfill my PFE. I dwell more on that sometimes than on what makes me happy. I think that’s what oftentimes leads me into my funks. I’ll come off an amazing, fulfilling experience and I yearn for that to continue. However, obstacles like my job get in the way and make me feel deprived of continuous fulfillment.
I do wonder if I put too much blame on my job, though. Maybe I’m being called to serve others while I’m at work. Maybe God is calling me to seek out different ways to fulfill my PFE in spite of my stresses from work. Maybe instead of viewing my job as an obstacle I should instead view it as a challenge. But let’s look past the job issue for a second. Where I fall short a lot of times is how I spend my time after work. I use excuses like being too busy or being too tired to always seek ways to fulfill my PFE. The book talked about spending as much time doing what you enjoy as possible. I know that sounds so easy but it can be hard. I dwell too much on what drags me down instead of on what lifts me up. So that’s something that’s been more of a focus for me since reading this book. I want to spend more time with friends, I want to spend more time reading, I want to spend more time praying. I mentioned in my post about Lent that I’m going to mass or adoration everyday. I can already feel the difference in my spirit. I’m feeling more relaxed and at ease. I’m feeling happier and more fulfilled. It’s given me more energy to pursue my PFE in spite of the long hours at work recently. It’s truly amazing what time with Jesus can do for the soul.
The Why Cafe is such a cool book that offers so much insight into why we are here. There is so much more to the book that I didn’t even mention. And honestly, I didn’t even do that great of a job explaining it. But that’s why you should totally read it! I guarantee you’ll walk away from it searching for your PFE and how to fulfill. But it doesn’t feel like an obligation, although it might come across that way. It’ll make you excited to explore your own life and to see how God is calling you live.