‘Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self gratification but through fidelity to a worthy cause’.
Research shows that having a sense of purpose is really good for our health! It reduces stress and depression, improves short term memory and mental speed, helps us sleep better, cope better with life’s hic-ups and helps us age more successfully. It also importantly reduces our chances of having heart disease, strokes, developing Alzheimer’s or dying prematurely.
One UK study of 9,000 people over the age of 50 revealed that those people with the greatest sense of purpose had a 30% reduced risk of dying over a decade compared to those with the lowest levels of purpose.
What gets you out of bed?
Compelling statistics! But what gets you out of bed in the morning? Is it your alarm clock screeching in your ear? Or is it a feeling of drive and energy and a sense of direction?
Mark Zuckerberg defines purpose as ‘that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for, purpose is what creates true happiness. It also creates an unlimited supply of energy.’
I remember as a child how much my mum loved her work – sometimes I thought more than her own children. She was a Principle at a primary school and you would be hard pressed to find a person more passionate and more committed to her job. Why? Because she felt that what she did everyday was making a significant difference to hundreds of children’s lives.
She was living a life full of what psychologists term ‘Purpose’ and every morning she would bounce out of bed, ready to start another day. Even when she wasn’t at work, she was thinking and planning activities that she could do with her children the next time she was in school.
However, like so many people who retire, with plans to ‘do something different’, ‘to go and see the world’ or ‘spend more time in the garden’ the moment she did, her health and vitality declined and all too quickly. She had lost that compelling reason to get out of bed; she had lost her sense of purpose.
Many believe that fundamental to thriving and wellbeing is the ability to balance each of the four key energies; mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. Spiritual energy simply comes from having this strong sense of purpose in our life, this belief that what we are doing really matters.
So how do we find our purpose?
It doesn’t matter whether we are 20 or 90 years old we all need to believe that what we do has true meaning and contributes to the ‘whole’. Now the whole could be ourselves, our team, our company, our family, our community or the world. With purpose we have direction; we set goals, we manage our time and we want to get out of bed in the morning and take action.
Many of us spend too much time trying to find that one true purpose in life. However Stretcher in his book Life on Purpose, recommends setting a different purpose for each of the four domains of our lives: family, personal, work and community, again creating a balance, something that I personally feel strongly about.
Purpose and Core Values
The easiest way to identify purpose is to think of times when we are enjoying what we are doing and when what we are doing fits in with our personal core values.
Core values are those deeply held beliefs or guiding principles, that a person (or an organisation) has that drive behaviour. For example if one of your core values is ‘taking care of others’, then you will feel a sense of purpose when you create opportunities to do so. If we go back to the case of my mother, one of her core values ‘motivating and inspiring others’, meant that the synch of pleasure and purpose that she received from her teaching career, left her feeling deeply fulfilled and energised for life.
In my next blog I will run you though a values exercise, that I often use in my coaching and training sessions, to help you identify these driving forces, in order for you get more purpose into your life and tap into your spiritual energy.
If you’d like to find out more about how Emma can help you and your team, then please get in touch.