Do you know your life purpose?

December 19, 2019 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

Many of us struggle to find our purpose in life.

A sense of purpose gives you a reason for being here. It’s the idea that your life makes sense, that you matter in this world.

Research suggests that a greater sense of purpose and meaning in life is also associated with better physical and mental health.

Having a life purpose is a buffer against stress, anxiety and depression. It can help keep frustrations in perspective and help you cope when faced with challenges.

A sense of purpose can also help you take steps to live healthier. In a study of older adults, a greater sense of purpose was associated with greater use of preventive health services and spending less time in the hospital. One study even found that individuals who feel that their life has meaning tend to live longer. 

A sense of purpose goes beyond creating a healthier and happier life for yourself. It can propel you to help others and do great things in this world. It changes other people’s lives for the better.

Only about 25 percent of Americans adults report having a clear sense of purpose. How can you discover your purpose in life? Here are tips others have used — maybe one will work for you:

  1. Look inside yourself. Think about what drives you, what energizes you. What do you love to do? What do you care about so deeply that it motivates you to take action? Now, how can you turn your passion and skills into something meaningful?  

  2. Draw on hardships or injustices. Have you experienced or witnessed something painful that’s shaped who you are? What strengths helped you overcome obstacles in your life? Your purpose may come from a determination to right past wrongs in your life or injustices in the world.

  3. Read. Research suggests reading is linked to a sense of meaning and purpose. Reading is an act of the imagination. It can spur ideas and insights. Read something that matters to you — it could be fiction, poetry, religion, etc. You may discover what matters in your own life.

  4. Be altruistic. Donating your time, energy and money to helping others can be good for you and give you purpose. Think about what you are passionate about — the environment, animals, teaching, etc. Even small acts of kindness (like holding the door open for someone) are meaningful.

  5. Express yourself. Sometimes creative outlets and other forms of self-expression (e.g., writing, painting, drawing, playing music, mindful mediation, prayer) can help you gain a sense of purpose. You may decide to experience different cultures and sights through travel. Do whatever inspires you.

  6. Get insight from others. You’ve probably already revealed what your passionate about to those around you without knowing it. What do other people appreciate about you? Pay attention to what others notice about you. It may help you understand the special gifts you have to offer.

  7. Practice gratitude. Gratitude is a state of appreciation for the goodness in your life. Research suggests gratitude leads to more life satisfaction, among other health benefits. When you take time to be thankful for what you have, it can also help you understand your purpose.

  8. Connect. A sense of purpose often grows from having meaningful connections to others and realizing that you are part of something larger than yourself. Look at the people around you, in your community. What do you have in common with them? Can you join them?

Finding your life purpose doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lifelong journey. There are times when you’ll get caught up in daily pressures, but don’t let yourself lose sight of the things that are worthwhile to you. You’re here for a reason. Part of your journey is finding out what that reason is.

Need help getting through a difficult time in your life? Get support from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

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