How to create meaningful moments and help heal the world
It’s summertime in the Northern Hemisphere! These warmer months are the perfect time for fun weekends and vacations; for some relaxation, rest and renewal. It is also the perfect time to re-evaluate your daily activities and consciously align yourself with the things that make you feel alive, engaged and inspired.
Having a sense of purpose is a vital component of ongoing well being. In fact, a recent study has revealed that consistently engaging with life in a meaningful way actually increases your life span.
Sadly, in the mad rush to be busy, productive, popular … or perfect … many people have forgotten the importance of self-fulfillment and of purposeful living. But your personal fulfillment is more important than you probably realize.
Despite society’s ongoing (and incorrect) assumption that we are separate and distinct from each other, recent scientific discoveries have shown that we are deeply entwined and interconnected. The fact is that you are an integral thread in the tapestry of life; your well being is essential to not just yourself, but also your family, your social circle and even your wider community.
Therefore, I invite you to take time this summer to gently review your life and your daily activities, and reconnect with the joy of living on purpose.
Being on Purpose
The first and most important step in this process is to realize that having a purpose is not necessarily about what you are doing.
From a young age, we are taught that ‘doing’ has the greatest value in society; it is our output, not our intention, which brings rewards. Therefore, it is common for many people to be drawn to some activities simply because they want to appear busy, or (more importantly) productive.
But there is another way of valuing the contribution you make to society. Your true purpose — your most valuable contribution to the world — may have very little to do with what you are doing, and everything to do with who you are being.
In fact, your purpose may be as simple as being happy.
Your true purpose may have very little to do with what you are doing, and everything to do with who you are being.
It is self-evident that when you are uplifted and content, you are better equipped to support others around you; your spouse, family, friends and community. Also, and importantly, when you choose to let go of unhealthy or unhelpful activities and make your happiness a priority, you set an example for those around you to follow. But, astonishingly, your happiness has an even greater effect on the world than these two factors.
In 2008, researchers Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler published a study that revealed that happiness is contagious. According to their extensive study, contentment flows out from “happy people” like ripples, lifting the overall well being of their wider social circle (including many people they may never meet).
When you give yourself permission to do things just because they bring you joy, you not only increase your own happiness but you also have a profound, positive impact on the wider community.
Questions on Purpose
This summer, I encourage you to reflect on the importance of your personal happiness, fulfillment and sense of purpose. Particularly if you are on vacation and are removed from your daily hobbies, activities or jobs, spend some time reviewing their true impact on your life and your well being. Ask yourself:
Are my regular activities still filling their intended purpose?
Has something that started out as an opportunity for social engagement turned into a chore that drains my time and energy?
Has the career I once chose still inspiring me? Or has my vocational purpose evolved toward some other career?
Is something intended as a fun hobby turned into minefield of drama and gossip?
Do I avoid going to a particular job or activity? Or, am I still enthusiastic about it on most days?
Do my regular activities energize me? Or do they leave me feeling drained and heavy?
Reconnect with your original purpose for each of your regular activities — and if it isn’t fulfilling that promise, let it go.
If a job or hobby makes your body feeling heavy, listless or stressed, it is an indication from your unconscious awareness that this activity is no longer serving you. Take real steps to move on.
Joy on Purpose
Next, define the things in your life that bring you the greatest sense of joy and/or fulfillment.
Remember, these activities may not appear to be ‘productive’ or be particularly ‘useful’ in the long-term. They may be as simple as baking for your friends, walking in nature, watching old movies, writing private poetry or learning a new skill you never intend to use again. The trick is to avoid social expectation and to follow your own sense of excitement and engagement — if an activity brings you moments of joy and inspiration, then its true worth is immense.
Many people ascribe to the idea of a having a life purpose, but perhaps the purpose of life is simply to live purposefully. By ensuring that your days contain moments of inspiration, meaningful interaction, joy, enthusiasm and adventure, you not only create a more fulfilling daily schedule, but — through your own sense of purpose — you also add incredible value to every life you touch.
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