Ultimately, what creates purpose is the experience that one is able to make a meaningful contribution to someone else's life. We are social beings and we need each other to find meaning and fulfillment. There's a clear relationship between purpose and connection.
In all the times I have gone to parks, play groups, and children's play centers here in Japan, I have yet to see a Japanese parent kiss and hug their kids. If you understood Japanese, you would probably never hear a Japanese parent say "I love you."
In this view, our selves are far more extensive than we've been led to believe. They extend beyond our own bodies to include what we think of as other selves and the world. We live in the minds of others, and they in ours.
The word "self" carries strong connotations of autonomy, individuality, and self-sufficiency. It's as if it were chosen to mask our interdependence. It's hardly an exaggeration to say that in buying into this notion of selfhood, humankind got off on the wrong foot.
It is tempting to think of the self as simply a home for the identities we adopt over our lifetime, but on reflection, this, too, falls short. Our self is also the source of the identities that sally forth as our proxies.
As our self-support emerges and we begin to love ourselves as we are, we find comfort and peace in just that. We end up longing less and less for the extraordinary, and we find more and more happiness in the ordinary.
Because we know that we can always get on Facebook, or tweet or text, the very manner in which we are interacting in the physical world has changed. We are less engaged and less committed, less dependent upon this moment of being together for connection and emotional nourishment.