Recently, I’ve found myself facing a scary and unsettling reality. I will walk into a room and have no idea why I’m there. Have you experienced this? Please tell me “yes.” For instance, yesterday as I walked into the kitchen, I stopped in the doorway and thought, “What am I doing?”

Was I hungry? No.

Did the plants need watering? No.

Was I there because I intended to clean? Definitely not.

I honestly couldn’t remember. Then I began to think through what I had been doing up to that point. I was working on the computer in the living room, spilled some cranberry juice on my keyboard as I took a sip, and … paper towels! I needed paper towels.

Sometimes we have to look back in order to remember what we came to do.

The process of navigating our way through a forgetful mind is a good metaphor for life. We sometimes lose our way, get confused about life and why we are here, and we find ourselves saying, “What am I doing?”

It happens to everyone. And just like when you walk into a room and forget why you’re there, the best way to remember is to ask yourself what you’ve been doing that has led you to this place. Take an inventory of your life, your choices, and your relationships. Look for the why. It works for everything from paper towels to existential questions of life.

For example, suppose you have a difficult job that you really hate. If you’re not sure why you’re doing that job, consider that happiness is not necessarily driven by what we do. It’s driven by the why behind it. At the end of the day, ask yourself: What good comes from this? Am I producing something that makes people’s lives better or easier? Am I bringing home a check that pays for a food and shelter for my family? Am I offering someone friendship or healing? Find what matters in what you do. Then bring photos to work to remind you of those things. Keep them front and center.

Studies show that having a sense of purpose in life can improve your sleep quality and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and depression. It can build your self-esteem and self-confidence. Most of all, it brings direction, resilience, and perspective. In the end, without that knowledge, all we do is aimlessly put one front in front of the other. As my colleague Rev. Roy Medley has explained, “If you don’t know who you are, you act like who you ain’t.”

This exercise is not a one-shot deal, though; it’s a lifelong task. Our sense of purpose changes as we progress through life. It can also get beaten up or stolen by outside voices. The world has a knack of pressing in, drowning out our sense of self and purpose with others’ expectations, and judgments about what is appropriate or right. That’s why we must remind ourselves — every day — that our lives count for something and that we