Although the latter is far more common, many people give up pursuing their purpose too early. They settle for a small piece of success, or less.
The question, ‘what is your life purpose,’ can overwhelm us with anxiety, self-doubt, and existential angst.
People can become embarrassed and bewildered when the topic arises.
Memories of failed efforts, regrettable life choices can hurtle into consciousness making us reluctant to venture there.
It can feel safer to remain gilded to our habits, psychological patterns, and external structures even if they’re working against our best interests.
And it can feel destabilising and risky to respond to the subtle voice of our inner calling because it almost always wants us to change and grow in an uncomfortable way.
You can resist your life purpose for years or a lifetime, but, as many wisdom-keepers have advised over the centuries, a higher purpose can bring enormous benefits to your very existence and revolutionize your life.
Various studies over the last decade show that a purposeful life positively impacts:
The message is clear, life purpose is not something to be pursued at a later time.
Nor is it a luxury or indulgence only available to a talented few.
“Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”
Without awareness of a higher goal or purpose, it’s easy to settle into dull routines and attempt to inoculate the accruing boredom with destructive habits.
Florida State University studied 4,963 adults aged 32–34 from 48 states and concluded that boring, repetitive work causes cognitive decline.
The research challenges our centuries-long notion of work as a sacrificial means to a rewarding end.
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A 6-year-long study showed that people with a sense of purpose are inspired to become healthy. Focused on a healthy lifestyle, they exercise more, have regular health checkups and monitor their biomarkers.
My friends, clients, and students who live purposeful lives are typical of this study. We tend to consume little or no alcohol, eat a healthy diet, and engage in at least one form of regular exercise.
Anyone dedicated to personal growth is possessed by Eros. He/She enjoys the good things in life and resides in a kind of heaven. Anyone dedicated to self-destructive behaviors is possessed by Thanatos. He/She loathes existence and lives in a kind of hell.
The presence and quality of your life purpose can help swing the pendulum towards Eros.
Numerous studies into adolescents show that purpose-orientated living reduces self-destructive behaviors including drug addiction, acts of self-harm and suicide.
Both children and adults become motivated to develop healthy behaviors, untapped skills, and talents when they have a purpose.
“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.”
― Homer, The Odyssey
After a long day of purposeful activity, whether through engaged work, positive relationships, learning, or self-expression, you are less likely to ruminate and worry in bed.
One study showed that people with a purpose had reduced sleep disorders, including insomnia, sleep apnea, and Restless Leg Syndrome.
Other studies show that good sleep, relaxation, and meditation help the flow of creativity and lateral thinking.
“You possess a kind of inner force that seeks to guide you toward your Life’s Task –what you are meant to accomplish in the time that you have to live.”
— Robert Green
A meta-analysis by the American Psychosomatic Society concluded that “a higher sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk for both cardiovascular disease events and all-cause mortality.”
The research, consisting of 10 studies conducted over 7-years, involved 136,000 participants (average age of 67) evaluated the relationship between purpose in life and the risk of death or cardiovascular disease.
Risk of death was about 20% lower for people who reported having a strong sense of purpose. They also had a lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
― Gabriel García Márquez
Purpose begins with faith in the value of your life and unique contribution. But faith is often our most difficult challenge because doubt is faith’s constant (shadow) companion. Do what you can to build healthy self-belief and faith in your own existence.
[Article first published on BigShakti.com 26th February 2019]