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last updated June 26, 2020

Why you need to find a sense of purpose (and how to do it)

by Rob Arthur

You might be crushing your workouts.

Nailing your eating habits.

Doing everything right to look, feel, and perform your best.

Yet you might still feel dissatisfied.

You might be feeling empty.

If so, you might benefit from finding a sense of purpose.

A sense of purpose can be thought of as having three aspects: the feeling that life makes sense, having goals and a direction in life, and the sense that one’s life has inherent value and is worth living (1).

A strong sense of purpose can protect against decrease in life quality, promote the feeling of being able to deal in difficult situations, and accept and deal with depression symptoms in a more efficient manner (2).

Higher sense of purpose has also been associated with better self-rated health, fewer chronic diseases (e.g. stroke, heart attack), reduced pain, less disability, less dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, reduced mortality, more consistent use of preventive services, higher physical activity, engagement in meaningful activities, and fewer sleep problems (3).

So, how exactly do you cultivate a sense of purpose?

Many of us lack a sense of purpose or meaning because we are so focused on helping, improving, or fixing ourselves, yet feel powerless to do so.

We’re always looking inward, ignoring our capacity for serving purposes beyond ourselves.

Ignoring that we’re integrated and interconnected with everything and everyone around us.

Seeking to help others – volunteering, mentoring, donating, or whatever calls to you – can go a long way toward building a sense of purpose (4).

If you’re not sure how you might get started, here are some questions you might consider.

What is your unique gift that only you can share with the world?

What would you do with your life if money were no concern?

What is the one thing you want written in your obituary?

What’s going on in the world that breaks your heart?

What people and organizations inspire you?

You don’t need to come up with some grand answer.

You only need to be open and honest with yourself.

Knowing that you are worthy of a most excellent life.

Not only a life in which you look and feel awesome.

But a life of purpose.

You’ve got this.


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