Meditate. Eat Clean. Do yoga. Drink green smoothies. Get in those skinny jeans. Sound familiar? We all do our best to live a healthy lifestyle, and make choices that make us feel good and look good, but what if I told you there is a missing link in your health? If there is something you aren’t currently doing that could significantly enhance your well-being, wouldn’t you want to know what that is? After spending thousands of hours doing hot yoga, burpees and eating clean, I discovered there was one missing link: I had no idea who I really was or what I wanted to do. I lacked purpose. I kept my mind busy to avoid thinking about it. I seemed to have it all, but I knew there was something missing. When I got clear about my purpose things started to shift in my life.
If you don’t know your purpose, it’s the missing link to your health and well-being. Having a sense of purpose or meaning in our lives can completely change our outlook on life, our life satisfaction and our overall well-being.
This isn’t some esoteric mumbo jumbo. See, the researcher in me rejoiced to find out that there are actual studies that confirm that a sense of life purpose helps us live longer, protects against various diseases, helps us endure pain better and lead a life of less stress. A sense of purpose is a mental component of our overall well-being and it matters as much as what we do physically and the social aspect of our lives ( our relationships with others).
You won’t be surprised to learn that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) study finds leisure-time physical activity extends life expectancy as much as 4.5 years. We all know that physical exercise feels good, gives us more energy, and prolongs our lives, but the quality of our lives contributes to our life expectancy as well. (Turns out, it isn’t all about those skinny jeans!) Once we are plugged in to our life purpose, we can improve the quality of our lives, and we just may live longer too.
So, what does all this mean for you? Take the time to know who you are, what you want and why you are doing what you are doing. Here are some of the questions to help you discover your purpose.
What do I really want?
After all is said and done, what do I want in the very end? Is it peace? Health? Community? Love? Connection? You will find that we do whatever we need to in order to fill these gaps but we do it in a roundabout way instead of directly going after what we want.
What makes me happy?
I mean, really happy. What gives me deepest joy? What people and circumstances make me feel alive and like I can conquer the world? You will find that the answer about purpose and meaning lurks behind these questions but we rarely take the time to answer them.
What is most important to me?
We live our lives according to our top values and most of us have no idea what our top values are. Here’s a tip: sit down and take ten minutes writing out the things you value the most: freedom, beauty, nature, organization, integrity … ? Your values are like a compass for life. Your values tell you whether you are in the right place, and what direction to head next. If you need help, MindTools has a great article on how to figure out your values.
If I could do anything I wanted, what would that be?
I believe most of us know our answer, but are afraid to say it. We don’t want to sound silly, or we don’t quite believe it’s possible. Remember: Only you can give life to your dreams. It starts by saying it, even if silently and only to yourself at first.
I am a firm believer that our life purpose is a cross between the things we are really good at and the things we are passionate about. There is no doubt that at some point, you will come to ask yourself these questions. Why not start today and head directly toward your purpose?
Plug into your life purpose, drink your green smoothie and get that physical activity. Now you are on your way to optimal health and your ultimate well-being.