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Last Updated on November 26, 2018

13 Ways Living with Purpose Makes Your Life Happier and More Fulfilling

13 Ways Living with Purpose Makes Your Life Happier and More Fulfilling

One of the greatest gifts as a human is the ability to choose how to live your life. The choice to be a parent or not; the choice to be college educated or choose an apprenticeship; or the choice to break the rules by designing your own future. Sure, the benefits of making the right choices are immense and the feeling of fulfillment even better.

But how would you feel you were forced to live a false life? Here’s an example:

You’re being forced to learn how to be a hair stylist and make it your occupation. No, it’s not your side hustle. Even worse, you are told to forget your loved ones and get married to someone you absolutely detest. Forget everything you’ve learned and loved, and instead, make this your sole career and relationship.

The amount of anguish and physical pain you might feel is akin to someone taking a precious object or livelihood away from you. This could lead to anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and an overall spiral into a web of negativity.

Yet, there are people who willingly or unwillingly live their lives based on society’s dictates and preferences. I’m talking about people who are constantly living outside their purpose and are unhappy about it. While sadness is an emotion that is as common as happiness, a constant state of sadness will cause you to slip into a pattern of automatic negative thoughts which can be more difficult to get out of.

So, how do you fix this? How do you stop living a life of false identities and instead honor your own calling and beliefs?

Without further ado, here are 13 ways living with purpose make your life happier and more fulfilling:

1. You feel grounded to a calling that is bigger than yourself.

While living with purpose won’t guarantee higher paychecks and fancy property, there is a desire to be part of something bigger than yourself. You want to be part of movements that positively impact the world and leave a legacy behind for future generation.

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Call it faith, mindfulness, or whatever it is you wish to align yourself with. This sense of anchor makes it possible to navigate through life by when you are able to visualize your existence on earth for a specific reason, which in turn enables you to spend more time to find your calling.

2. You help others live their purpose by empowering them.

An advantage to living in your purpose is that you discover your strengths and are more willing to be of service to your community. This is practically impossible if you lack self-awareness and are unable to translate the skills you have to helping others.

Sometimes, even if you do have the skills to help others, living an unintentional life casts a doubt of pessimism over you, blinding you of the opportunities to help others grow.

3. You engage with others from a point of healthy self-esteem.

As you go through life, your personality and attitudes become shaped by your experiences. However, negative events tend to leave you more vulnerable to self-doubt and crippling mindset challenges, which can cause your self-esteem to take a nose-dive.

Living with purpose is a powerful way to rehabilitate a sense poor self-esteem. When you change the way you feel about how adversity affects you, your confidence increases and you feel competent enough to deal with setbacks and even stand up as a change agent in situations with unknown outcomes.

4. Your physical and mental health will thank you.

Yes, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Living a lifestyle not of your choosing can subject you to severe mental health decline. Anxiety begins to attack as you experience a rise in excessive worry, irritability, lack of concentration, among other things.

In fact, a Harvard article explains that researchers studied the risk of cardiovascular death between people who reported living with a sense of purpose and those who didn’t, and found the risk of death was 20 percent lower in those who reported living with purpose.[1]

5. Letting go of failure is easier.

Life becomes easier to navigate because you’re living with purpose. Note, I didn’t say easy because it’s never easy.

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That’s because choosing to pursue a life aligned with your purpose will stretch you and demand more from you. You will be required to grow and commit to continuous personal development.

However, it is easier to let go of failure without letting it fester into an emotional wound because you’re able approach life as an adventure rather than an “all or nothing” mindset.

It is easier to let go of failure because despite a few losses, you believe that you are on a creative, professional path that is designed just for you.

6. Forgiveness others and letting go of bitterness becomes easier.

Life becomes more peaceful when you no longer have to hold onto year-long grudges and misunderstandings that have caused you unhappiness. This isn’t to say that you become unfeeling to injustice or deliberate disrespect from others. Forgiveness does not excuse a wrong or action. Rather, people who choose to live a purposeful life are more inclined to choose peace over tension.

According to Andrea Brandt Ph.D. M.F.T., you actually might feel un willing to forgive despite knowing that you need to.[2] However, it takes a gradual process of acknowledging that what is done is done, releasing the hurt and suffering caused, and growing from it ordeal.

Living with purpose makes this process easier because you are more likely to understand that there is no “perfect” human.

7. Gratitude becomes an essential part of your life.

Interestingly, living a meaningful life opens your heart to feel thankful. When gratitude preludes your wants and desires, you’re inclined to live fully in the present, to savor and enjoy the relationships and things you do have.

When you live a purposeful life, you acknowledge the difference between needs and wants and make it a daily effort to remove your focus from what you do not have.

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8. You engage in positive behaviors.

When you’re living a happier life, you’re able to adopt healthy coping strategies when dealing with stress. According to Stephanie Hooker from Psychology Today:[3]

 “People who have a greater sense of meaning may be more likely to take care of themselves because they feel as if their lives matter more.”

This means more exercise, meditation, mindfulness, and less of drinking, smoking, and risky behaviors that will put your health and safety at risk.

9. You expand your worldview.

Unlike living in a world where everything is viewed in black and white, you become very sensitive to nuances, undertones, and challenges that plague daily communications, intercultural communications, and even business operations.

Having an open mind leads to craving a deeper sense of connection and understanding of the world around us, which allows for a higher level of thinking for better results in your career and business and business.

10. You develop more empathy for others.

Rather than living a life of assigning blame to others because they can’t seem to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” you understand that life is not a race.

You know that everyone is equal and experiences discomfort at certain times. You are also aware that it takes a loving and nurturing environments––not critical ones, to raise mentally-strong and balanced individuals who will go on to achieve greater things in life.

11. You pursue a values-based life.

Ever heard of some people always talking and breathing their core values? Well, that’s what living with purpose does.

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Let’s say you’re exposed to social issues that plague local and global communities. When you live with purpose, your work instantly gravitates towards solving these problems. This integration becomes more prominent because you find it difficult to extricate your what you do from how you are called to serve.

12. You are more aligned with your career.

When you are out of alignment, you are blind to the unassuming job opportunities that mask themselves as challenges or simple introductions. You take risks and make very unwise decisions about your career and/or business.

But success comes from within before it is ever manifested externally, and the only way to know this and acknowledge it is if you are purposefully living your life.

13. You gain clarity about the future despite uncertainties.

Uncertainty is always going to be a part of life. But it is in these moments that we either realize unspoken potential or let opportunities slip from our fingers.

However, a life lived with purpose recognizes uncertainty as the path to achieving something greater. This encourages you to engage with life from a place of genuine curiosity and wonder instead of anxiety and pessimism.

Final Thoughts

You have to be clear about what you want your life to look like and how you want to live it.

Whether you’re following trends or breaking societal rules, your personal joy and fulfillment is your responsibility.

After all, you only live once and you should find your meaning in it. This article will help you find your meaning:

There Is More to Life Than  ____________ (Fill in the Blank Yourself)

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Margaret Olatunbosun

Creative coach who teaches high-achievers how to thrive at the intersection of creativity, passion, and profit.

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Last Updated on May 20, 2019

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future

We sometimes hear people talk about the importance of living in the moment. We might hear about the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly racing?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then we’ll look at some of the obstacles, and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

Why Live in the Moment?

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

Living in the moment has innumerable benefits. Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being.[1]

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and makes relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with him because we can make a much deeper connection with him.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind, and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier.[2]

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

We sometimes worry when we don’t know how to deal with a problem. For example, have you ever received a letter from the IRS telling you that you owe more money than you thought, and don’t have the funds to pay it? This is enough to scare anyone who is not familiar with taxes.

How to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

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Learn How to Live in the Moment

By living in the moment, you calm your mind, and are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. So we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, living in the moment will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions.

Learn to Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with higher educations tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, and outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind, and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down. And an agitated mind wants to go to another place and time.

Unpleasant Situations and Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, and we can avoid them by taking our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to doing things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as eating, alcohol or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind, and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. So it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. As noted above, one thought starts an endless chain of thoughts. The reason is that one thought reminds us of something else, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function, or until we get distracted with something else.

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Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities.[3]

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The news media draw our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future.[4]

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful IS to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment. When you are mindful, you are fully in touch with reality because the present moment is where reality is taking place.

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counter-intuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then much of our understanding will come from simply observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

You’d be surprised to find out just how much your emotions and past experiences influence your judgments. What many of us do, including intellectuals, is make a quick judgment about a person or situation, then add the reasoning afterwards. That is not logic, but rather rationalization.

When you are mindful, you reserve judgment until you have more information. Notice how I said “more information,” and not “complete information.” It is impossible to have complete information about something because there are infinite numbers of factors affecting it. So the best thing to do is be as objective as possible, and always be open to new information.

Viewing the world in this manner can be a challenge, and takes some practice to overcome years of habitual thinking. But it can make our lives infinitely more fulfilling, as we’ll be able to make much better decisions that will result in real happiness and inner peace.

So if you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your busy life to help you live in the moment, that is, reality.

You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you, and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath, and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

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You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to give your mind a rest from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: How to Practice Mindful Meditation to Calm Your Thoughts

Also, there are many good books on the market that explain the concepts and techniques in greater detail. Some examples are

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting, or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone, or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking for training yourself to live in the moment?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing. But instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable, and can really help your mind settle down.

Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. So what many of us do is try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss.[5]

So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

  • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
  • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself. Ask yourself, “Is this what my body and mind need to be healthy, and perform at an optimal level?” “Is it sufficient, or too much?” By asking yourself these questions, you will be more inclined to make better choices in the future.
  • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

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Mindful Activities

Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander, or get distracted. When it does, then just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

Notice some of the specific movements, or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

Bonus Suggestion

Here is one activity that is not generally considered a mindful activity. It is physical training. For those of you who already workout, it may be easy to see how physical training requires you to live in the moment.

Here’s how it works:

In order to perform an exercise to get the desired benefit, you need to use a proper technique. In order to use the proper technique, you need to pay close attention to how you are doing the exercise. In other words, you need to be fully present in the moment.

Another aspect of training that helps you live in the moment is tuning into what is happening in your body. First, during exercising, you need to pay close attention to how your body feels. Are you exercising hard enough, or not enough?

There are times to go easy, such as during warm-up exercises; and times to push yourself hard, such as when you’re warmed up and want to stimulate growth.

Second, when you’re not in the gym training, you need to pay close attention to the signals your body is sending you. What nutrients and how much do you need to consume to support your training? How much rest do you need?

By tuning in to your body, you force yourself to be in the moment. So, physical training done properly is just about as effective as meditation, or any mindful activity, for developing mindfulness. It’s also great for your health.

Final Thoughts

Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time. And this will add up to greater peace and happiness.

Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning; but I can assure you, it will get easier fairly quickly.

The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying; and when you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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