What if you could take a pill that would do the following:
- Slow down your own mortality
- Reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s
- Help prevent a stroke by as much as 44%
- Reduce the chances of a heart attack by 19%
- Improve your overall health
- Make you more alert
- Strengthen your immune system
Did you know this “pill” already exists? It’s called living with purpose.
Finding your sense of purpose quite literally adds years to your life. According to one study, it doesn’t even matter when you find your purpose; once you do, you have a greater chance of prolonging your life than those living without a sense of purpose.
Beyond the physical benefits of living with purpose, studies also show that living with purpose can improve your emotional state and allow you to live a happier, more fulfilling life.
Living with purpose can mean different things to different people. So, let’s define it so you can understand how to apply this to your own life.
What is “living with purpose”?
Living with purpose means knowing what you value most and living in a way that aligns with those values.
‘Knowing’ and ‘doing’ are two different things. We might know that eating healthy and exercising daily is good for us, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the knowledge will affect the way we live.
To break this down even further, we’ve come up with a few dos and don’ts if you are looking to begin a purpose-driven life.
Do: Find your “true north”
Finding your true north means looking within and discovering the things that mean the most to you. These can be:
Values: i.e., integrity, honesty, trust, commitment
Beliefs: i.e., political, religious or worldview
Behaviors: i.e., showing love, being loyal or faithful, living selflessly, showing compassion, etc.
Finding your true north helps keep you guided down the right path when life happens and attempts to steer you away from the things you value most.
If you aren’t quite sure what you value most, envision your funeral and all your loved ones gathering to commemorate your life. What are the things they are talking about?
Practical tip: Go to a library, sit alone with your thoughts and write down 3 values, 3 beliefs and 3 behaviors that you value most.
Don’t: Mistake the things that “feel good” in the moment for purpose-driven living
Short-term pleasure can sometimes help you identify the things you value, but often the things that are deeply impactful and meaningful may not bring about instant pleasure or a shot of serotonin. Feeling fulfilled and feeling pleasure are two different things.
Do: Find a charitable cause that you care about and contribute in some way.
Living for a purpose that is greater than yourself is interesting. There is actually something physiological that happens in our brains when we experience a calling on our life. Our mood changes. Studies say practicing compassion and making a difference in the lives of others actually has the same effect on our brains as eating a tasty dessert. Our whole perspective changes because we are not just chasing our dreams, we are fulfilling our purpose. And that’s powerful.
Do: Surround yourself with people who have similar values
When you surround yourself with people who have similar values as you, you are encouraged daily to stay the course. You are supporting each other and leveraging your efforts collectively.
Don’t: Sweat the setbacks.
When you understand what living with purpose looks like for you, it can be quite liberating. Suddenly the unexpected auto repair bill, or failed job interview, or burst pipe in your home doesn’t wreak as much havoc on your stress levels because you understand life is about far more than that. It just simply doesn’t matter as much to you.
In addition to these dos and don'ts, did you know there is an actual formula you can follow to find your purpose? We covered this in a previous blog found here.