Every so often, I need to renew my sense of commitment to my purpose. Not my goals, visions, desires… but, really, to this larger sense of “Why” that’s a big part of the energy that makes life spring to life.
I feel it when I start running on auto-pilot, focused on “getting things done” for the sake of getting them done, checking off all the boxes, crossing off lists or finding myself too fixated on outcomes. When any of this starts to dominate my thoughts and days, I feel my creativity slowly slipping and I turn back to the big “Why” of purpose to get grounded again.
Whether your larger sense of purpose is to be of service, to nurture, to inspire, to heal, to create art, or anything else, it’s that awesome energy that fuels every part of your day when you’re really connected to it.
Getting more clear on purpose has made me more persistent and more patient, it’s increased my endurance and helped me bounce back from obstacles, and it’s even made the triumphs more triumphant because they’re rooted in a bigger mission.
In so many ways, having a more resonant and heartfelt purpose — and staying connected to it!– will keep you in a more dynamic and abundant energy flow!
Research has shown that a sense of meaning and purpose in one’s life has a profound, overarching positive impact on, and is almost essential for, a person’s overall well-being.
Participants in the study were 7,304 women and men aged 50 or older, with a mean age of 67 years old. The study found that, “… higher worthwhile ratings are associated with stronger personal relationships (marriage/partnership, contact with friends), broader social engagement (involvement in civic society, cultural activity, volunteering), less loneliness, greater prosperity (wealth, income), better mental and physical health (self-rated health, depressive symptoms, chronic disease), less chronic pain, less disability, greater upper body strength, faster walking, less obesity and central adiposity, more favorable biomarker profiles (C-reactive protein, plasma fibrinogen, white blood cell count, vitamin D, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), healthier lifestyles (physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, sleep quality, not smoking), more time spent in social activities and exercising, and less time spent alone or watching television.”
All these findings were shown to be independent of age, sex, educational attainment and socioeconomic status.
Following these participants over a four- year period, it was also shown that how meaningful one deems their life has a direct positive influence on their social, economic and health outcomes.
Connecting to higher meaning is quite a life supercharger!
More financial success
A 2016 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality found that people with a sense of purpose gained more wealth than those who lacked a sense of meaning in their lives. When researchers controlled for factors that are known to usually garner people financial success, such as personality and demographics, it was still found that a sense of purpose was a major determinant of someone’s financial situation.
Researchers explained one aspect of their findings, “Studies show that purpose correlates positively with more expansive future time perspectives and with a greater sense that their time is being used effectively to fulfill downstream goals …As such, purposeful people may be more likely to save money or make investments that support downstream goals, and not squander resources based on impulsive decisions.”
Better Coping Strategies
People who have a sense of purpose and view their life as meaningful may have better coping strategies to deal with challenges.
In a study on patients 59 years and older having total knee replacements, subjects completed a questionnaire 2 weeks before, 4 weeks after and 6 months after surgery. A strong sense of purpose before undergoing surgery was correlated with better active coping and physical health after their knee replacement surgery.
I have a family friend with such a strong sense of purpose that it appears he’s bionic. Five weeks after three major spine surgeries and a hip replacement he’s out on vacation and ready to hit the gym.
When I felt really lost and like I was floating through life waiting to be chosen, discovered or in some way “picked” for something to give me a larger sense of meaning in my early 20’s, I couldn’t deal with emotional turmoil or challenges without melting down. Now, with a higher sense of purpose, I’m so much more resourceful and resilient and ready to find solutions to be able to move forward as soon as possible!
Purpose is also anti-aging!
A study published in JAMA Psychiatry discovered that having a sense of purpose can directly affect your physical functioning as you age. Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health assessed how having a higher purpose in life would buffer against declining physical function. To test this, they used the markers of grip strength and walking speed for indicators of strength and mobility, respectively. The subjects used for this study were 4486 US adults over the age of 50 who were part of a nation -wide Health and Retirement Study. The subjects were test in 2006 and again in 2010 and it was found that subjects with a higher purpose in life had a 13% decreased risk of developing a weak grip, and a 14% decreased risk of developing a slow walk.
There are so many studies and testimonials of healing that reiterate this.
Purpose is how we all connect to life. When we tap into love. Where we get excited. Where we find the stream of energy, the creative current that keeps us moving forward.
One client’s purpose was to be “a healer of the Earth” and when she became clear on that, she realized it didn’t matter as much which avenues she focused on first, it mattered most that her days, her home, her activities, her beauty products, her gardening methods — all things from big to small— were aligned with these principles. From there, the avenues to manifest this in writing books, in practicing healing modalities, to share it on a blog, and more and more would be so much more clear.
If you’re not 100% sure or clear on a sense of purpose or meaning right now, being more broad was were I began. It literally started with, “My mission is happiness.”
It freed me to start aligning my life in all ways with more and more happiness. It made me look at my former job (based on suffering through things until the day would arrive when I could be happy) and realize how short term it was. It opened doors to start experimenting with Feng Shui and developing my own methods because it was so much fun and spreading happiness. It took me to see more art, to meet new people, to have great adventures.
Ultimately, it became more and more specific. It became more clear. It still does, all the time.
And when I’m thinking about how things will work out, hoping and praying for things to come together instead of creating and feeling the electricity of flow in my days, I know it’s time to get back to a more clear purpose.
A few days off. More quiet time. More journals, spiritual practice, sleep, baths.
The connection to purpose clicks in.
If you’ve done it, you may have had a similar feeling of click or re-connection, or a sense that energy and joy comes rushing back into your days!
If you’ve never thought much about purpose, or meaning, or whatever you want to call the sense of mission that is underlying all you do… it’s quite the experiment to give it a try.
Here’s to the radiant glow and magnetic joy of having your passion fully engaged!!!
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