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Create a Stronger Sense of Purpose for a Healthier Life


What is a life purpose? Why does it help to know your life purpose? What if you don’t know, or don’t think you even have one? How do you figure out what your life purpose is?

Several days ago, we took a look at a recent study related to life purpose and health behavior. Specifically, how a person’s sense of life purpose relates to how easily the person deals with health-related behavior changes.

Behavior changes are relatively simple — in theory, maybe not so much in action. It’s easy to think about a behavior, recognize that it needs to be changed, and what it needs to become, yeah?

For example, let’s say you currently live a fairly sedentary lifestyle with room for dietary improvement. You wake up in the morning, slug down a cup of coffee, head to work where you sit at a desk all day and order takeout for lunch, rush home to make a quick and easy pre-packaged dinner, jump in the shower, then binge some Netflix before bed.

You’d know — even if just deep down — that you weren’t living the healthiest of lifestyles and that even if you can’t change your work environment and responsibilities short of getting a new job, you can find ways to eat a healthier diet and be more active.

What about life purposes, though? For many of us, a life purpose isn’t as obvious, in theory or in action.

What Is Life Purpose?

You need to know what “life purpose” means before you can figure out how it applies to you, right?

The University of Minnesota created a quick guideline explaining the meaning of life purpose and contribution as well as how life purposes evolve. That’s right; your life purpose at 20 years old might not be your life purpose at 50 years old. Likewise, your life purpose before an educational change might not be the same once you earn your degree.

Refer to What Is Life Purpose? for the definition of life purpose, an equation you can use to help you break down the meaning of life purpose (and maybe even start figuring out yours), and the kinds of things that contribute to your life purpose’s evolution.

Understand the Benefits of Knowing Your Life Purpose

We already know that being aware of your life purpose can help you make healthier life choices; however, there are several other benefits to knowing your life purpose.

For example, you’ll have more clarity, you’ll feel more gratified, and you’ll live with more integrity — to name a few.

So, before you start working on figuring out your life purpose, work on understanding why it’s beneficial to have a good grasp on your life purpose. Take a look at Your ‘Why’ Matters: The 10 Benefits of Knowing Your Purpose in Life for several ideas.

How to Determine Your Life Purpose

As you can imagine, there are tons of resources out there to help you with the tons of ways you can figure out your life purpose. Let’s take a look at a few of the most clear and direct ones:

Can You Have More Than One Life Purpose?

Chances are, you probably got stuck a few times while trying to determine your life purpose. Not only because, well, figuring out your life purpose can be daunting (it packs big meaning, after all — what if you’re wrong?!), but also because you might have felt by focusing on one purpose, you were ignoring other possible purposes.

That’s because you can, and most likely do, have more than one purpose.

Kenneth Acha, MD breaks it down like this:

A good way to understand calling is to view it as your main assignment, passion, or mission for a season of your life. Your life can have more than one season. Yet, for some people, it may be one. I know people who felt called to teach when they were young and they went to college to be trained as teachers and have taught their entire lives. They haven’t done anything else at all. That’s their “one” calling. The right way to view it is that their season was one lifetime long.

Now, I don’t entirely agree with that (for example, my father was a teacher and it certainly wasn’t his only calling, nor was it even his only calling during his season as a teacher), but you get the idea.

Going further, Liisa Kyle, Ph.D affirms we all have “more than one purpose or passion,” that we are “on this planet to do many, many things” because there are many activities that give us “pleasure and meaning.”

Still, Acha warns about getting too inundated with life callings:

So, yes, you can have more than one calling in life. However, multi-tasking destroys calling than anything I know. With calling, it’s not good to pursue many passions at once because a passion requires our full focus especially when we are beginning to learn about that area. It’s best to pursue different callings in different seasons of life than try to do everything at once. Remember, there is a time for everything. If you do the right thing at the wrong time, you get a disaster.

How to Stop Resisting Your Life Purpose

According to Jayne Stevenson, resisting your life purpose — or simply being unconscious of it — is dangerous:

The danger of being unconscious of your life purpose is that you may confuse it with your worldly goals, such as career, making money, and being successful. In the confusion, you may try to force your life purpose into an inappropriate form.

Stevenson goes on to explain how you can get clarity regarding better understanding your life purpose and avoid letting it take an irrelevant form.

Let’s hear from you all!

If you already know your life purpose or calling, how did you figure it out? How does your purpose line up with who you are? Your likes and dislikes? The things you enjoy and those you don’t? What are you doing to fulfill your life purpose?

If you don’t know your life purpose yet, do you plan on figuring it out? Do you feel like something in your life is missing because of not knowing it?

Furthermore, looking back at the study, do you think knowing or not knowing your life purpose relates to how easily you’re able to make health-related behavior changes?

Share in the comments!

Create a Stronger Sense of Purpose for a Healthier Life


Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of WritingSpark.com, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."


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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2019). Create a Stronger Sense of Purpose for a Healthier Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/your-mind/2019/05/create-a-stronger-sense-of-purpose-for-a-healthier-life/

 

Last updated: 28 May 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.