It seems to be ingrained in our nature to seek a purpose for our life, and for good reason too. Having a sense of purpose in life has been shown to reduce risk of death, increase productivity, and overall happiness and wellbeing. It doesn’t sound too bad, but the question becomes, what exactly is “purpose” and how do you find it? While finding this sense of purpose a deeply personal journey, there are some key components that are shared among individuals.
In order to find purpose in your life, one must figure out what exactly purpose means to them. Webster defines purpose as “something set up as an object or end to be attained” while psychology goes a bit deeper. The psychology definition is as follows: “a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once personally meaningful and at the same time leads to productive engagement with some aspect of the world beyond the self”. While some find purpose in their jobs, family life, or time with friends, this experience and meaning can be found in many areas of life. As you search for purpose in your life, we suggest journaling and asking yourself: what matters most? What are you seeking to accomplish in this life?
Meditation and Mindfulness
It may be difficult to even think of what your purpose may be. For those longing to seek out this aspect of life or even further develop it, meditation and mindfulness are great practices that will enhance your life experience. Not only are these practices scientifically proven to reduce anxiety, but they also allow for clearer thought processing, self-awareness, and self-discovery.
A great meditation technique to try is listening to a guided meditation that focuses on self-discovery while surrounding yourself with a grounding, relaxing scent. A great option for this is the use of essential oils. For example, we know lavender supports relaxation, but so do other oils such as copaiba oil which has Beta-caryophyllene, which is also found in the Black Pepper essential oil. Putting a few drops into a diffuser will soothe anxious emotions that would otherwise block your meditation process. After you’re done, write down some of the thoughts and discovering you had during those moments of mindfulness.
Studies show that serving others may help you live longer and increase your sense of purpose and life satisfaction. While it may seem impossible and time-consuming, service and helping others is a great way to develop purpose in your life. Perhaps a friend has the cold and you could bring them soup from your local café. Or maybe a co-worker is struggling with a certain project or skill that you excel at—you could provide advice and resources for them that once helped you. There are many service opportunities and ideas to consider that can fit within your schedule.
Making Your Mark
The Fault in Our Stars, a hit movie released in 2014, features characters who are battling cancer. One of these characters has a deep concern with leaving his mark on the world, stating that he fears oblivion. This is by far a great fear of many—what are we leaving behind us when we go? Most of us will bring about something quite as powerful as developing a treatment for diseases or sheltering homeless animals, but we can still make small but just as meaningful impacts within the world we inhabit. Taking steps to go green, share pieces of yourself and inspire others, reach out to a troubled friend, or help a homeless stranger with a meal for that day. If you’re job isn’t meaningful to you, find ways to make it meaningful by connecting with co-workers and establishing a deeper connection with clients.
In your journey, remember that everyone finds “purpose” is various, changing ways and there is no right or wrong answer. Develop a deep self-awareness and find what works best for you. As you meditate on these things you will begin to reach moments of realization of where to put your energy and efforts, creating a happier and more meaningful life.