By Sarah Godfrey
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
– Robert Bryne
Don’t you love that saying? The purpose of life is a life of purpose? A simple message that can often be forgotten amidst the hectic lives we lead. Getting distracted and just stuff going on make it all too easy to lose direction as we get lost amidst the endless demands made upon us. And those that we feel obligated or select to accept. Sometimes the goals we gravitate towards aren’t right for us. Or worse some purposeful objectives might be chosen for motivational wants defined by greed, envy and false illusions of happiness. Other times our purpose is linked to our developmental age and stage of life. When this happens, we can forget to adjust and adapt our goals to growing up, life experiences and getting older. The issue is we all need some kind of destination to push us forward and excite us to master and work towards endeavours that will be meaningful in some way. In turn, we get a sense of where we are going and why.
In my book, Life Works When – Piecing Together Happiness for a Successful Life – the second part of the jigsaw of happiness is the attainment of having purpose. I have been asked why purpose? Surely there are more integral needs to know in order to find true happiness than purpose? I don’t think so. Purpose is a gift that enhances our quality of life. What are we, if we do not have an aim in life? What is a life led without goals and motivation? If true purpose fails to connect us with what we need and each other, then we are rudderless to navigate our lives. Directionless with our dreams and empty of drive and determination.
But don’t just take my word for it, research shows we are engineered to have purpose because it generates a sense of wellbeing compared to those who are purposeless. We are happy when we have a reason to motivate us in life. Whether this is a spiritual, emotional or financial purpose, the act of moving towards a destination gives us reason to battle the tough times, helps us to master resilience and encourages us to hold on to hope.
For some purpose is finding a life partner, maybe having children, could be a career, self-development, generating wealth or building connections within our communities and each other. Purpose is individual and intrinsic to your needs and wants. Having a sense of purpose gives us a balanced meaning to our existence. It allows us to allocate time and resources to goals and dreams. And dreams create passion and energy. We all need to be excited about something, no matter if that drive is to feel better, care for our wellbeing, imagine a better life or to invent something truly amazing. Purpose is passion. And a life without passion is an empty vision.
So, what happens when we are purposeless? Just like Mo in my book, without having a destination to inspire us, we can easily give up, feeling lost and confused what direction we should take to find happiness. We start to experience apathy when our dreams disappear. It seeps in through the cracks of despair as we grow increasingly aimless. Depression is the outcome of a life that has lost meaning and motivation. Purpose is a salvation to hopelessness and a remedy for low moods. Knowing what gives you passion and purpose is the secret to true success.
Ikigai (the Japanese term for reason for being and a philosophy of finding happiness), is correlated with a sense of purpose and longevity. According to research those of us who connect with a strong sense of purpose are more likely to live longer, have less heart disease and be resilient in life (BlueZones). Having said that, it isn’t enough just to have a general, vague purpose to improve your health, a purpose with passion is the key. For the people in the research purpose included family, fishing or regular exercise that connected the mind and body and fulfilled a sense of joy. These studies indicated that having purpose is a protective factor for human beings.
The links with who we are and what we do are essential elements of having positive purpose in our lives. If we extend this out of ourselves and embrace our communities with purpose than the destination of wellbeing becomes a global need that could benefit us all. And having meaning is infectious. We are better lovers, family members and work colleagues when we are driven by our passions and celebrate a life full of meaning and motivation. When purpose becomes a unilateral destination then we can change the world.
Here are my tips on creating your purpose and in this way defining a destination of physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
How to have purpose.
- Write a list of things you enjoy. Make a plan to learn, master or at least try as many as you can.
- Define what you are passionate about (spiritually, creatively, physically, morally and ethically) and incorporate at least one of these passions into your everyday life.
- Do not give up on a dream. Purpose is about resilience and mastery, a dream can be rearranged, reshaped and reinvented, but don’t give up on the passion to achieve.
- Have a mental destination. And then another one. And then another one.
- Link your purpose with other parts of your life. Isolation is defeating for true happiness, so your purpose needs to benefit other areas of your life and connect you to others.
- Your purpose does not need to be huge. It can be to love with an open heart, to live in authenticity, to share your knowledge and wisdom. Find purpose in the small and every day activities around you.
Now, I have fulfilled my purpose of explaining the pieces of the jigsaw to happiness from my book Life Works When. Stay tuned for the next blog on Belonging as the third part of the puzzle to a successful life.