One of the most important aspects of wellness is often the most overlooked: a sense of purpose. When you can identify and incorporate a personal sense of meaning into your daily life, even in small ways, you're more likely to feel content, fulfilled and at peace, even in the midst of everyday stress and times of challenge or upheaval. Your purpose doesn't need to be lofty — just take small steps to discover what makes you feel more energized and connected.
Chances are, you're already tapping into a sense of purpose, but you may not have fully recognized it. Think about the times when you have felt most energized or times when you were so engaged that you lost track of time. What were you doing? Who were you with? People typically find meaning when they feel connected to something greater than themselves. But that doesn't mean you have to end world hunger or discover a cure for cancer. Start by looking for the ways you find meaning in your work, your relationships, or your religion or sense of spirituality.
Perhaps your role as a mother or father brings you this sense of meaning. Or maybe you find fulfillment in your career or through your spirituality or nature. Look for the times when you feel most content and at peace.
Try these suggestions for discovering what's meaningful to you and bringing that into your everyday life.
- Explore your strengths. When your strengths and values align with your actions, you are living with purpose. Take an inventory of your personal strengths and talents. Brainstorm ways to bring your top five strengths into your daily life.
- Ask a close friend, spouse or mentor when they see you thriving most. Sometimes other people notice things about us that we may not be aware of. Their stories and insights can help you explore your purpose.
- Take small steps to add meaning to your day-to-day life. If you love being a parent, leave a note in your child's lunchbox or set aside time in the evening to read together. Or if you find joy in using your creative side, volunteer for a new project at work or explore a hobby, such as painting or photography.
- Note the times throughout your day when you feel most fulfilled and energized.
- Set aside time this week to call or meet with one person who is important to you.
- Create and record a goal that's connected to your sense of purpose.
- Values in Action Survey of Character Strengths from the University of Pennsylvania (free)