How well do you know your purpose?
Knowing your purpose is good for your health
Little did I know, that knowing your purpose is important and good for your health! Both mentally and physically. Upon deeper reflection, this makes total sense. After all, an individual who wakes up and goes about their day with no purpose is likely to develop depression. While a person who is eager to start their day and organizes around their purpose will find more fulfillment in the mundane.
A research study showed that having life purpose decreases risk of death. This article by Mara Gordan presenting research around purpose convicted me. A noteable quote below:
People who didn’t have a strong life purpose — which was defined as “a self-organizing life aim that stimulates goals” — were more likely to die than those who did, and specifically more likely to die of cardiovascular diseases.
Mara Gordan, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/05/25/726695968/whats-your-purpose-finding-a-sense-of-meaning-in-life-is-linked-to-health
Last year I completed a fun course called “Purpose to Impact” led by Harvard. It was an amazing program which helped explore individuals purpose through a series of answering questions aloud, reflecting and sharing feedback. The class itself was fun and enjoyable and led to some eureka moments for each one of us.
Prior to taking the class, I would not have really said I knew my purpose in life. Not that I was aimless, but I wasn’t really ever sure if I was on the right path. At some point I was getting antsy and wanting to know what was next for me. In order for me to answer the ‘what is next’ question, I knew I had to make a few decisions. As well as explore the options. However, as you may well know, there is only so much introspection that can be productive. Easily, I was at the end of the productive side of thinking.
The class was a great tool to gather feedback, with the other people in the group acting as listeners and almost positive listeners. It just so happens I came across my notes from the end of the class, where we state our purpose. Mine was one word, “Nurture.”
It all makes sense
The common response to those in the class was a moment of surprise realization. Followed by, “ah yes this makes sense” once we discussed one another’s purposes. One person had never seen herself as the, Yoda, which I so affectionately called her. Another realized the direction she was going in was just ever so slightly creating a separation from her purpose, resulting in daily frustrations. And yet, another knew his purpose but realized he was in need for more recognition for his contributions.
And then there was me. Growing up, I was told I was more of a math girl; raised to be more stoic than soft. It would not have naturally occurred to me that nurturing others would be my calling in life. One particular moment, I shall never forget was when a friend angrily debated with me that I was simply a cog in the corporate machine. (I’ve mentioned I grew up in New Jersey, right?)
Although I’ve jokingly accused of being a cheerleader in more recent years, and known for my bright eyes and never-ending smile ;), it honestly never crossed my mind that being a nurturer would be my purpose. However, after taking the class and listening to others reflections, I was able to agree that being a nurturer fits me. Furthermore, if you were to listen to my life-stories, it would show up more and more that my happiest moments occurred while taking care of a plant, animal or person. To be clear, not just babying and spoiling but nourishing and empowering.
It started with a book
Perhaps it all stemmed from reading the book “Nurture” by Lisa Bevere which is listed on my inspiration page. I distinctly remember reading this book, the first time in 2013, on an airplane from Ohio to North Carolina. Each page spoke more and more to my heart, my head nodding and even a tear or two escaping down my cheek. In this book, Lisa speaks on creating meaningful connections, encouraging one another and lending our talents and strengths to raise another up. Given the timeframe which I was reading this, it most likely was the first time I was learning these concepts.
Thinking back to the first time I read this book, I can still feel the inner yearning I had for someone to show up in my life and be an example of this gentle but radiant light. Then, one day I woke up and realized that woman needed to be me. Eight years in the making, and I do my best to be the gentle, radiant lady everyday.
Level of Purpose Quiz
With that said, below is a quiz from the Berkeley Greater Good Site. It measures your level of purpose. My results are down below, and yes I floss my teeth, exercise and go to the doctor.