Finding Purpose (What Game of Thrones Taught Me)
There are many excellent books and philosophies around the topic of finding purpose. Countless theories of how to find it, what it might be, whether everyone’s purpose is the same or different, and on it goes. But I am not going to talk about those books and philosophies today. I am going to go much dorkier than that. Today I am going to tell you a few things I learned about finding your purpose from the HBO show Game of Thrones.
If you don’t know what Game of Thrones is, if you haven’t watched it or have no idea what I am talking about, read through this introduction: What is Game of Thrones? But pretty much, it is an immensely successful fantasy television show created by HBO that follows the book series of the same name. There are dragons and politics and beheadings and most every character is power-hungry and awful. I am obsessed with it.
We hopped on the Game of Thrones (GOT) train really late. The show’s eighth and final season aired in 2019 and we just started the first season a few weeks ago. We have been bingeing HARD on Crave (really milking that free month trial) and we have made it through 4 seasons so far.
As we have been watching, I had a realization about the characters on the show. Some of these characters are really unhappy. Actually, I take that back. They are ALL unhappy. But some of them are downright miserable while others are relatively content (in their miserable lives). And I got to wondering why, and what exactly the difference is between these characters.
Having a Purpose Makes Even the Toughest Life Worth Living
I came to the conclusion that the completely miserable people have either a) no family or loved ones or b) no purpose. Take Brienne of Tarth for example. Brienne is an extremely tall warrior who is barred from becoming a knight because she is a woman. Her whole role (so far) has been to serve whichever character she vows to protect. And although her life is fairly horrible – fighting a bear and being criticized CONSTANTLY for her height and her looks. She also has a purpose, which gives her a sense of direction and contentedness that other characters don’t have.
Having a purpose for your life, which could also be having a “goal” for your life, creates something that you can work toward and feel good about – either for completing or just working towards.
Your Purpose Can Be Simple
Many characters in GOT have very simple purposes. Brienne of Tarth vows to protect another character, and that becomes her purpose in life. Lady Stark, one of the famous Northern Stark families, promises to protect and care for her children. That is her life’s purpose. Marjorie, a character who is very clever, very beautiful, and extremely charming, has her heart set on becoming the Queen. That is her life’s purpose. All of these characters, although they live quite unpleasant lives most of the time, are content in their goals – no matter how simple or complicated they may be.
You don’t need to have a big fancy goal (like becoming queen). Sometimes your purpose is to be a loving partner, a fair boss, a kind friend. Or sometimes your goal is to create a healthy lifestyle for you and your family. I often need a reminder that not every purpose or goal has to move mountains.
Your Purpose Can Change (Many Times)
Any time a GOT character makes a promise or “vow” it gives them a direction to their lives. Like, “well, my life sucks but if I make it my life’s goal to keep my vow then at least I have something to work towards.” And in many cases, once a vow is fulfilled, someone will make a new promise to someone else and then off they go to fulfill that new vow.
It can feel scary to choose a goal for your life because we think that is our sole, or only purpose. But we can have many different purposes and goals in our lives. We may as well choose one to start with and go for it.
Purpose Gives You a Set of Values
Having values to guide your life is incredibly important. Knowing your priorities helps guide you and aids in decision-making. When a GOT character has a purpose, it tells them their values. Little Arya is a young girl who is intent on killing anyone who wronged her and her family. Her purpose then, tells her what she values. She does NOT value, for example, forgiveness. She values justice because that is what her purpose is (at the moment).
Do you know what your values are? Right now, one of my values is health because I have some health goals I am working on. Another value I hold is financial prosperity (hence my money goals). The goals and purpose you set your sights on will tell you a lot about your values and priorities.
Just to clarify after all this… I do not think that our priority should be to have a miserable life (like many of these GOT characters) while at least having a purpose. I hope that’s not what this sounds like! Rather what I discovered while watching this series is that EVEN when life is really tough, the thing that can make it better and provide a renewed sense of direction and happiness, is a purpose or goal.
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As Always, Belle