Develop a greater Sense of Purpose and Identity
There are many books and articles one could read to learn more about how a sense of purpose help your overall well-being. The most famous being that classic from Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning. I read that book over 20 years ago. It inspired me in many ways. Relevant to my thoughts here is the idea that no matter what you are up against, if you visualize yourself accomplishing something greater than you can handle significant trials. For a review of some recent research about how a sense of purpose helps go here http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140512124308.htm.
So developing a greater sense of purpose sounds like a good idea right, but how do you evaluate your own sense of purpose and further develop it?
Well there is scientific evidence that religion does help people have a greater sense of purpose. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9476707
I have read about various types of purpose and long-term versus short-term purpose. I suggest you get the ball rolling and shore it up. If your purpose is just getting through the day without crying in front of your kids that’s okay for now, but eventually your purpose would need to expand to something bigger.
Yes, eventually you want to develop a greater sense of purpose. A great place to start is by getting really good at defining who you are. Who are you really? Are you what you do every day or what you don’t do? Who is defining you right now? Are your parents? Your neighbors? Your culture, or other people than yourself defining who you are?
Do you realize your identity has significant influence on your sense of purpose? Right now, today is a great time to think and further develop your personal identity and ownership of yourself. Take inventory on what you are focused on. Do you worry about certain priorities like family or finances but spend an inordinate time reading social media, or gossip pages online? I really don’t understand our celebrity culture. I once got an autograph of a couple of football players when I was in boy scouts. It was cool listening to their stories of playing football. But I looked down at the signatures and thought “what do I do with this?” Nothing. Exactly.
I recall a story my dad shared with me when I was young. It’s not his story but he shared it. Many of you may have heard it before, but I thought it applies to the principle of realizing your true identity and purpose:
A young man, climbing in some rugged, high mountain peaks, came across an eagle’s nest. The nest contained several eggs. He took one and gently carried it back to his home. He then put it with several eggs an old hen was setting over. In due time all of the eggs were hatched, and there came forth the eaglet with the baby chicks. During the next several months the baby eagle grew along with the chicks. He scratched in the barnyard for his food like chickens do. Although he grew to full size, he still never flew. The young man watched the process with great interest. He wanted the eagle to fly. So one day he took the eagle up on top of his house and said, “You’re an eagle, fly.” But the eagle just flew down to the barnyard and commenced scratching like the chickens. A few days later, long before sunlight, the young lad took the eagle to a lofty crag high among the mountain peaks. Then, as the first streaks of sunlight burst over the mountain range, he said, “You’re an eagle, fly.” The eagle began to stretch its wings; its eye caught a shaft of sunlight; a sensation swept through it from wing tip to wing tip. The fresh, cool air, the smell of pine trees, and an exhilaration it had never known coursed through the great bird. Its wings spread wider; power swept through its entire frame. It began to lift off the arm of the young man. Soon it was lifting and soaring hundreds of feet above the high peaks. It lifted higher and higher and soared farther and farther into the endless sky. It saw more in an instant than its earthbound chicken companions saw in a lifetime. From that time forth the eagle was never more content to be a chicken.
Right now think, are you going to cluck around like a chicken or soar and see new things like the eagle you know deep down you really are? Where are your steps taking you now? Decide. Look up the Latin origin for decide it translates from off –cut so when we decide we cut off other possibilities. This implies a certain amount of focus doesn’t it? I can’t be everything or all things, but I will be . . . . what? You are free, like the eagle, don’t limit yourself to the chicken coup.
Talk to someone you trust about what your purpose is. Write your thoughts somewhere. Decide.