Studies show that seniors who have a purpose in life are happier and live longer. This information got me thinking: what is a purposeful life and am I living one?
Although the studies focus on older adults, the main theme can be applied to any age. If your life is constantly one of living from problem to problem, deadline to deadline – just going through the motions to get through another day with no thought why, no wonder you’re stressed, angry, depressed (fill in the word that suits you).
I’m not immune, although I do have a purpose in life. I get caught up in all the crap shoved my way each day – from bad weather causing water leaking into the basement, to overload in demands from others, to financial crisis, to health issues, to just plain too much to do.
Wait a minute. And while you (and I) are at it – grab a minute…or more to re-focus. Why am I scrambling and rushing around doing all this stuff? Does any of it have anything to do with my purpose in life? Do I actually know or have a purpose in life?
Remember, your purpose in life can change with your time in life. When raising kids, that might be your purpose until they grow up and leave the home nest. Then what is your purpose? You may have become a doctor, lawyer, police officer, etc. because of your purpose in life. Maybe you want to help sick children have a better life, help those living below the poverty level with legal issues, or catch criminals – to simplify matters. But are you doing just that? We’ve probably heard about police officers whose marriages can’t survive the strain of police work. One of my family doctors years ago couldn’t take the stress of his life anymore and killed himself. Then there are the parents being driven “crazy” by their kids.
Often the surrounding activities and problems take over the purpose and you become lost in the ensuing chaos. For example, it might not be your kids per se driving you nuts – but all the activities you have to drive them to at all hours of all days. Ask any hockey parent.
To get back to our seniors and those studies, my mother is a prime example of not having a purpose in life because she figured she lost her purpose. From hindsight I can see that Mom’s purpose was twofold – raising me and looking after my dad, particularly after he got cancer (when I was 9) and his other illnesses. Remember this was the late 1950s to mid-1960s. When Dad died (when I was 16), mother lost one of her life purposes and the other one (me) was a teenager. Enough said on the latter although by today’s and even those days’ standards I was a “good girl.” After Dad died, Mom’s arthritis showed up; so did her scleroderma. She had to quit work (which she had returned to when Dad was in the hospital) and I had to hurry and finish my secretarial course and get out in the work world. Mom died at the age of 63 from a brain aneurysm.
I’ve made it past Mom’s death age, but not Dad’s (66)…yet. But I keep trucking on. Why? I have a purpose in life, although many of you may wonder about that from some of my previous postings. But like many others, my purpose gets buried in all the day-to-day crap. Much that I place in “delay” should really go into “delete” and get well, deleted from my life. I “should” delegate more, but what I want to delegate (my business bookkeeping and tax return preparation, weekly housecleaning) I can’t afford. Therefore, I have to “do.” So far doing job trades hasn’t worked out except for one instance currently being done – but that is keeping the trades in one area – writing and writing-related tasks. Any attempts at bartering across different areas haven’t worked. Appliance repair people, plumbers, electricians, want money and usually upfront.
We need to re-look at what we do each day (myself included) and be ruthless about what should go out the window (preferably an open window; can’t afford broken windows). You can’t throws all the hateful jobs out. But maybe they’re only temporary and telling yourself this can help you get through your day. We must also not forget our passion, our purpose in life. Perhaps we can do one little thing each day with our passion. Perhaps inspiring writers bogged down in diapers, toys and car pooling, can write – 10 or 15 minutes only daily – in a journal about how they feel, what is bugging them, etc. And are some of the things you do related to your passion?
You can probably guess what at least a part of my passion is? It is living my life creatively and helping others to do so. That encompasses writing, teaching writing to aspiring writers, and yes even editing (for now), gardening, cooking, and walking…by exploring different places –parks or city areas, etc. – I can create a walking adventure and often get more story ideas. (Couldn’t resist the latter).
I’ve known since age 11 when I came in second in an essay-writing contest what my life’s purpose is. Like many others I got and get distracted. So I have to make myself return to the four D’s in my life – Do, Delay, Delegate, and Delete, so that the Delay stops bursting at its seams and at least the Delete increases and the Do is more what comprises my purpose and passion in life.
What about you?
Meantime, check out the ginger tapestry website and the article “The Three Paths to Purposeful Living at http://www.innertapestry.org/articles/vol-11-3/1021-the-three-paths-to-purposeful-living.html I don’t agree with all the author’s ideas, but I am pleased that he isn’t a sheep follower of the Law of Attraction. Neither am I – and I’m not really a big believer in it either.
Sharon A. Crawford