How To Find A Sense Of Purpose
You are not alone if you feel like a strong sense of purpose is missing this year. A crisis of purpose is a natural symptom of isolation—living in times of uncertainty as well as aloneness from not being able to give to others effectively isolates our authentic self. According to the University of Berkley, a strong sense of purpose arises when we reflect on our past and present, as well as our beliefs, values, and behaviors, skills and weaknesses, gifts, and talents. These aspects of our life point us to our authentic selves. This reflection can be exercised by journaling, contemplation, mindfulness, and self-awareness. Invoking curiosity about the choices we have been making, the mistakes and the success in our life, as well as the beliefs and habits that may not serve us anymore allows us to gain the clarity and motivation to make choices that lead us to a more meaningful and fulfilling future.
Meaning contains our values, goals, and self-worth. Purpose is the motivation to align to and give from that meaning. As we become clear with our meaning and invoke purpose, we leave our individual focus and find a community of others that we feel aligned with and can give through. The venue for giving may be through family, work, charity, volunteerism, mentoring, or creativity. Purpose is adaptive as it helps us as individuals (research shows it is associated with better mental and physical health), and it helps the species survive. We are wired to cooperate rather than to compete.
Here are some considerations for overcoming isolation and discovering your purpose:
Expand Your Perspective
Reading spiritual, philosophical, poetic, and secular fiction can connect us to the spectrum of humanity and help us align with values, beliefs, and meaning
Purpose is not just an intellectual focus, it needs to align with our inner feelings. It can often grow from self or witnessed suffering.
Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism
Awe gives us the context to connect to something greater than ourselves. Gratitude and generosity supply the drive to contribute to making a positive impact in the world. The generous desire to give to others and the appreciation we feel for the many blessings in our life are both wired to the same neurological centers in the brain and are rewarded with feel-good hormones.
Connect With Like-minded People
We may feel alone with our unique sense of purpose, but once we are clear, it is important to connect to like visioned people, both to break the sense of isolation and to give with.
Reposition Your Mindset
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