REASON TO LIVE
Having purpose matters. Science proves it.
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky,
The Brothers Karamazov
living life with meaning and purpose
How to Find Your Purpose in Life
6 steps to a more meaningful existence
Reading is a great way to connect with people you’ll never know, across time and space. One study found that teens who read the Bible more tend to have a stronger sense of purpose. Another showed a link between reading poetry and fiction and a sense of purpose. And of course, reading about people or causes that inspire you can help you zero in on a particular purpose.
People who turn pain into something positive tend to grow in purpose . . . especially if that “something positive” is directed toward others. One young woman who grew up in poverty and domestic violence turned to self-destructive habits as a teen. But as she matured, she was drawn to kids with “issues,” and reached out to help them. She now makes a habit of helping damaged people find healing.
Certain behaviors and mindsets — like gratitude, awe, and altruism — help promote a sense of purpose. Giving thanks helps us contribute to a world outside of ourselves. Awe makes us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. And altruism helps us make a difference beyond ourselves. Anytime your actions and attitudes are for the sake of others, you’re practicing purpose.
When someone tells you you’re good at something, take it not just as a compliment, but as an affirmation that using your gifts well is a way to act with purpose. One man who works with children with behavioral issues thought his job was a dead-end . . . till a former client told him he’d changed her life. “Something clicked,” he said, “and I knew this was my path.”
Finding and building community are key ways to discover your purpose, because sometimes it’s found in the people around us — and the way we interact with or help them. After growing up in a strict, conservative home, one woman decided she’d exhibit more grace and compassion in her own faith, “to be a good Christian and role model, to be a blessing to other people.”
You have a story to share; we all do. What obstacles have you encountered? How did you do so? How did others help you? How did you help others? “We all have the ability to make a narrative out of our own lives,” says Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning. “It gives us a framework that helps us make sense of our experiences.” Creating a narrative can help us to see how our strengths can make a difference in the world. And there’s no better purpose than that.
(adapted from Greater Good magazine)
More reading and viewing on purpose and meaning.