Book notes: The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren

Synopsis: Translated into over 50 languages, The Purpose Driven Life is far more than just a book; it is a guide to a spiritual journey that has transformed millions of lives. Once you take this journey, you’ll never be the same again.

On your journey you’ll find the answers to 3 of life’s most important questions: The Question of Existence: Why am I alive? The Question of Significance: Does my life matter? The Question of Purpose: What on earth am I here for?

Initial thoughts:

Pastor Rick is actually my pastor! I go to Saddleback Irvine South, which is one of his church’s several campuses in Southern California (though there are some outside the country).

I’ve heard him and other pastors mention this book on different occasions. My roommate even told me that my pastor (before I knew) was a well-known pastor and has one of the biggest congregations in the country! I had no idea that my pastor was such an influential and successful person.

He’s also claimed to have read tens of thousands of books over the course of his life, which is apparent as he comes across as a very learned and intellectual, as well as compassionate, person. Needless to say, I’ve felt compelled to read his book for a while now.

A couple weeks ago, pastor Rick actually told an anecdote about how this book helped Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps get out of depression and get out of retirement and back to training for the most recent Olympics.

Although I am a Christian and I imagine I will get a ton of value for myself (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) out of this read, I’m also determined to draw some of the key nuggets that can add value to anyone else no matter what their beliefs are.

Key ideas:

  • “It’s not about you” -opening phrase
  • The purpose of your life is greater than any personal happiness, fulfillment, or self-satisfaction
  • Focusing on self will never reveal life’s purpose
  • The most valuable things in life are not things
  • Benefits to knowing your purpose: gives meaning, hope, simplification, peace of mind, and focus, and motivates
  • The most damaging aspect of contemporary living is short-term thinking
  • Best way to understand people, ask “how do you see your life?”
  • We’re stewards of our life and gifts, which are trusts from God
  • Meditation is simply focused thinking
  • Pain is the fuel of passion, it energizes us to make a change
  • Pain isn’t a punishment, it’s a wake up call
  • The highest use of life is love, without it life is pointless
  • Relationships must have priority above all else in your life
  • Best expression of love is time, the most precious thing you own
  • Forgive instantly, but not necessarily trust again
  • An honest answer is the sign of true friendship
  • Pride builds wall, humility builds bridges
  • Give more honor to others than yourself
  • Difficult people are put in our lives for their benefit and ours, its an opportunity for growth and fellowship
  • Be devoted to others like family, excel at showing respect to each other
  • Unresolved conflict will make you miserable, always take the initiative to reconcile whether you’re the offender or offended
  • You gain patience and wisdom from listening and understanding others
  • Attack the problem, not the person. A gentle response diffuses anger
  • Nagging never works, you’re not persuasive when you’re abrasive
  • Focus on reconciliation over resolution
  • Relationships are always worth restoring
  • You learn more with a humble attitude
  • Be thankful in every circumstance (but not necessarily for every circumstance)
  • Every temptation is opportunity to do good; don’t resist temptation, ignore and change focus
  • Your character is the sum total of your habits
  • We should spend our lives and energy helping others, we were made to ADD to life on Earth
  • We’re only fully alive when helping others; service is the pathway to significance
  • Our gifts are meant for the benefit of others, this way we would need each other
  • Your greatest ministry (service to others) will come from your greatest hurt
  • Shared experiences help people, it’s not what happens to you but what you do with it
  • Try many things and take many opportunities to find your gifts; start serving to discover your talents
  • Never compare your gifts with others
  • Do the little things as if they were great things
  • If you wait for perfect conditions, nothing will ever be done
  • Accept your weaknesses; authenticity attracts, were drawn to humble people
  • Vulnerability is the pathway to intimacy
  • Pass on what you’ve learned to others, it’s the best way to keep growing; knowledge comes with responsibility
  • 3 problems we struggle with: identity, importance, and impact
  • An intelligent person aims at wise directions, a fool starts in many directions
  • Happiness is a choice; you’re as happy as you choose to be

Closing thoughts:

Fantastic book. Definitely adds a lot of direction to my own spirituality and quality to how I practice my own beliefs. One of my biggest takeaways is to think about myself less, but also focus on God and others more.

I think as a general life principle, increasing one’s gratitude, humility, and compassion will always increase the quality of one’s life no matter what your own religious beliefs.


Whether you’re a religious person or not, this is a fantastic book on how to live a higher quality life with more purpose through compassion towards others, valuing relationships, and service in your strengths.

Rating: 5/5

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