The combination of a successful career, a loving family, and a strong social network may seem like the recipe for a perfect life. However, even those who can check each of those boxes might feel like something is missing—and that “something” is their purpose in life.
“Finding your purpose” is more than just a cliché or a dream that will never be fulfilled. It’s actually a tool for a better, happier, healthier life that too few people attempt to use. In fact, only around 25 percent of Americans adults cite having a clear sense of purpose about what makes their lives meaningful.
Why Do You Need a Sense of Purpose?
A 2010 study published in Applied Psychology found that individuals with high levels of eudemonic well-being—which involves having a sense of purpose along with a sense of control and feeling like what you do is worthwhile—tend to live longer. Researchers found that the people with the strongest well-being were 30 percent less likely to die during the eight-and-a-half-year follow-up period.
There’s also research that links feeling as if you have a sense of purpose to positive health outcomes, such as fewer strokes and heart attacks, better sleep and a lower risk of dementia and disabilities.
In addition, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Research and Personality found that individuals who feel a sense of purpose make more money than individuals who feel as though their work lacks meaning.
So the good news is, you don’t have to choose between having wealth and living a meaningful life. You might find the more purpose you have, the more money you’ll earn.
With all of those benefits, it’s clear that it’s important to find purpose and meaning in your life. But, it’s not something that can be determined quickly.
The process requires plenty of self-reflection, listening to others and finding where your passions lie. These seven strategies can help you reveal or find your purpose so you can begin living a more meaningful life.
1. Donate Time, Money, or Talent
If there’s just one habit you can create to help you find your purpose, it would be helping others. Research from Florida State University found having a strong social network was linked to a happier life. But being the “giver” in a relationship connected people with having a purposeful life.
Altruistic behaviors could include volunteering for a nonprofit organization, donating money to causes you care about, or simply helping out the people around you on a day-to-day basis.
Whether you decide to spend two Saturdays a month serving meals in a soup kitchen, or you volunteer to drive your elderly neighbor to the grocery store once a week, doing something kind for others can make you feel as though your life has meaning.
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