Living on purpose is equivalent to knowing that your life has meaning, value, and importance. Who doesn’t want that? Given such a simple, powerful definition, it is remarkable that there are those who say it is impossible to know (much less live) our purpose. They scoff at the search, calling it magical thinking, and declare it to be wasted effort. You might say their purpose is to tell us not to look for our own. Don’t be fooled. Behavioral science does not agree with their stance in the least. It tells us that knowing our purpose is a basic human need, giving our lives necessary meaning. Far from magical – it is a component to our quest for self-actualization.
Philosophers, politicians, scientists and entrepreneurs have explored the idea of individual purpose from every angle. These diverse views do agree on one key idea: knowing our individual purpose is required to feel life is fulfilling, and that does not happen in a vacuum. Living your purpose means that your work, your contribution, and your life make a positive impact on others. Purpose creates connection, and, while it begins with the individual, it cannot be actualized without some form of community.
Knowing our individual purpose is required to feel life is fulfilling, and that does not happen in a vacuum.
The benefits of knowing our purpose can make the search itself, which can be confusing or frustrating for many of us, worthwhile. There is a lot of advice (some of which is not very helpful) about the ways of knowing our purpose. Actually it may not be as hard to identify as some may think. I encourage you to explore 8 Self-Mastery Steps to Reveal Your Purpose, curating some of the best approaches, if you are embarking on your own journey of discovery.
Of course, knowing our purpose is only a beginning. Once we know it, we must live in alignment with it, to actually get the juicy benefits we are after. Here are some of them:
Mental Acuity & Longer Life
According to a University of Chicago study, elderly with a positive sense of purpose in life may be able to reduce their cognitive decline by 50 percent. The correlation implies that knowing our purpose helps maintain healthy brain function. Not only that, it keeps us young longer, being linked to a longer overall life span. Conversely, a low sense of meaning and purpose has been associated with heightened depression and suicide.
Developing a clearer sense of purpose and setting goals has shown to help remedy sleep disturbances and its associated dire consequences. One study found that a strong sense of purpose in life is associated with a 16 percent reduced odds of developing sleep disturbances.
When we know our purpose, we are not as likely to be derailed by obstacles. We know what really matters to us, which gives us more energy to pursue it, no matter what circumstances are happening around us in the moment. Our purpose is bigger than our situation. When things don’t turn out as expected, we can find new ways of achieving the same purpose, even if that one goal is no longer possible. This provides flexibility, continuity, and adaptability to quickly recover from setbacks and be more resilient in the face of to changing events.
Inner meaning connects us to our authentic self. That connection is like plugging into an infinite power generator. We shift from seeking outer validation and direction from others, and instead look to ourselves first. That doesn’t mean we aren’t willing to consider alternative views and choices we may not have considered, but it does mean we will no longer make ourselves a doormat for other agendas. An entirely new world opens up, where we have full right of choice to say yes or no as we feel is right – even in the face of other people’s ridicule or attempts to override us.
Clarity & Better Decision Making
Knowing our purpose adds a clarifying dimension to how we see ourselves. When we are clear who we are, it is far easier to assess potential opportunities for which ones are worth pursuing. If it supports our purpose, it is worth doing. If not, it is a distraction. Again, this helps prioritize limited time and resources with confidence.
How we respond to stressful situations on a daily basis is tied to our sense of meaning and significance. Individuals with greater sense of purpose were less affected by daily challenges, ranging from traffic to sick children, and much more. The ability to see it as part of a larger continuum, and not get caught up in one particular event as if the situation was permanent, as well as seeing the situation in comparison to other events’ importance, kept those individuals of adding to their stress by their own reactions.
We are fulfilled when we are growing, and there is nothing static about knowing and living in our purpose. Quite the opposite. Purpose, when it is activated, challenges us to continue reaching. Additionally, fulfillment comes from feeling connected to something larger than ourselves. Making a positive impact on the lives of others creates a deep sense of satisfaction.
Purpose-driven organizations encourage their teams to focus on others – especially customers. When they focus on the positive benefit their actions and products can have on different people, innovation grows. In academic research, this is called having an “other perspective,” and it has been known to affect creativity. This is equally true of the individual, who is living their purpose by bringing it to the larger community. Focusing on how others might use something gets us out of rigid habits of thinking.
“Purpose is a soft virtue — but it’s what gives you steel in your spine.” — Rich Karlgaard
We are more powerful, freer, passionate and unstoppable when we know our purpose. So, if you are ready to step fully into yours, read the blog: 8 Self-Mastery Steps to Reveal Your Purpose.http://staceyruthsays.com/8-self-mastery-steps-to-reveal-your-purpose/