How do you think purpose contributes to wellbeing?
– Karen, business owner and mother, Melbourne
Thank you Karen for asking a very important question. It’s one I’ve been researching lately, particularly in relation to the world of education and young people.
In the latest Gen Z Wellbeing Check by Year13, 70% of young people said their mental wellbeing was average to poor or very poor. This was both alarming and heartbreaking to me. The research also revealed that only 37% of young people said they had a purpose. I wonder if these same stats might apply to adults, especially after the last couple of years we’ve endured.
Purpose drives wellbeing
There appears to be much written on the link between resilience and wellbeing but not so much on the link between purpose and wellbeing. My personal experience is that resilience and positive mental health and wellbeing are hard to maintain without a sense of purpose. If more of us had a purpose, then resilience and wellbeing would be a natural outcome instead of something to seek in their own right.
But first, we must demystify the concept of purpose and remove the skepticism people seem to have around it. We need to make it accessible and possible for people to believe they can discover their why and pursue it.
Making purpose simple
Purpose: Accomplishing something that is meaningful to you and consequential for the world beyond yourself.
Purpose is all about pursuing a project or a goal that is aligned with your passions AND that is of service to other humans or Mother Earth. That last part, being of service, is an imperative for wellbeing and is perhaps the purpose of life itself.
Purpose doesn’t always have to be found at work. It doesn’t need to be your life’s work and you don’t always need to be paid for it. It can be found in family, in community, in the arts or sports arenas and in the natural world.
It must however, be something to commit yourself to every day. It has to be an essential practice in which you feel anchored, in flow and fully fulfilled.
A personal experience
My own highest purpose is to write books that matter to me – and my readers. In the first six months of 2021, I stopped writing completely, for various reasons that I’ll reveal in my forthcoming book. I couldn’t find the will to get my words out and a kind of funky haze descended which I now believe was mild depression.
When I finally found the will to write again, my whole world became brighter and happier, and everything else in my life began to miraculously flourish. In a way, it was my personal proof that the last 10 years of teaching and writing about purpose have not been in vain.
So Karen, in answer to your excellent question, I believe purpose and wellbeing are essential partners. Like night and day, the dark and the light, we can’t have one without the other.
With love and purpose
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PPS: I’m currently taking bookings for keynote speaking on The Power of Purpose and my Talk on Purpose course. If you’re intrigued book a chat.