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Published on June 10, 2019

What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For?

What Is the Purpose of Life and What Should You Live For?

In society today, knowing your purpose in life and what you should live for has become the major criteria for measuring how happy your life is. There is a lot of pressure to know your purpose in life, becuase if you don’t know, then the chances of you living a fulfiling and happy life are nil.

This is absolute rubbish.

Ralph Emerson’s states in his quote that our purpose in life has nothing to do with happiness but more to do with how well we lived our lives.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

That is the secret recipe to living a happy fulfilled life.

Meet My Friend John

My best friend John suddenly passed away a few weeks ago. John was a person who lived a purposeful life that was centred on his commitment and love for his family and serving others.

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John did not seek out his purpose in life. He didn’t read personal development books on how to find your life purpose and he never asked the question “what should I live for?” He just knew what gave him joy and that was to serve his family and the people who were in his life.

John was that person that Ralph Emerson was referring to in his quote: a man who showed compassion and kindness and who lived a full life with purpose and commitment.

John was not a famous man who had achieved world recognition for his amazing feats. He was my long-time friend, a truly great man who to me lived his life purpose to the fullest.

Not all of us are like John who just knew what his purpose in life was and then just did it. Some of us need guidance as to how we can start this journey…

3 Steps To Finding Your Life Purpose

Here are 3 very simple steps that if you follow will help you to attain purpose and fulfilment in life.

1. Disconnect from Social Media

With social media, we are relentlessly exposed to thousands of people who present a life where they seem to be living incredibly fulfilled and successful lives with purpose.

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It seems to be for many people that figuring out your life purpose today is complicated and a drawn out process that can take forever. This is in fact not true at all.

On social media, you only see the fabulous and fun parts of peoples lives, you do not see their true life that can be as challenging and as complicated as yours. No one escapes the realities of life – those life curveballs that come from nowhere.

If you are comparing your quality of life and your happiness with those people on social media, then you need to stop. You need to find your own measures of success as to what a fulfilled happy life means to you.

Social Media will not give you what you are seeking when it comes to finding what it is that will bring joy to your life.

When you are consistently experiencing joy in your life, you are living a purposeful life. You know what the kind of life you want to live that is important to you. Using other peoples experiences of joy on social media is not best way for you to determine your life purpose.

2. Ask These 3 Key Questions to Define Your Life Purpose

To start your journey to figuring out your purpose in life ask yourself these 3 key questions:

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  • What is the legacy that I want to leave behind?
  • What will people say about me when I have gone?
  • What difference have I made to other peoples lives?

The answers to these 3 questions will help you determine your purpose in life.

Once you have defined these answers, the next step is for you is to take action and consistently demonstrate those qualities you believe are important for you to attain living a life with purpose and joy.

3. Focus on the Specific Actions That Bring You Joy

“You do not write your life with words. . . You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do” — Patrick Ness

Discovering your purpose in life and what you should live for is the same for everyone in the world – rich or poor. Everyone has the opportunity to live life to the fullest. It is not complex, difficult or out of your reach.

Finding your life purpose is very achievable. All you have to do is decide what it is that living a fulfilled happy life means to you and then you go do it. Go and be kind to others and live your life the best way you can every day.

Acts of kindness, generosity, gratitude and love are the core actions of living a life with purpose. If you focus on these actions on a daily basis, you will be living your life with purpose. It is at this point that the feelings of happiness fill your life.

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The more you do for others, the more happy you will be.

A Word of Warning

When you are living your life with purpose, it does not mean that you will transform into living the life of an angel.

Remember your reality – you will still have your faults, make huge mistakes, fail and have to navigate your way through the challenges that life throws at you.

However, living a life with purpose and commitment builds your resilience and enables you to deal with life challenges from a place of strength and certainty.

Your power of choice is the only thing that you have that enables you to live a life with purpose and joy. My friend John knew how to use his power of choice to the fullest. He chose to live a life with purpose and he knew what he had to do to bring joy into his life and to those people he loved – a very simple recipe to living life to the fullest.

The journey to knowing your life purpose and living your life purpose is within your reach. You are the only person who can do it and you have control over how you want to live your life.

Remember that nobody else does – it is all down to you. I suggest that you go do it now!

More Articles About Finding True Purposes

Featured photo credit: Timothy Paul Smith via unsplash.com

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Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on September 17, 2019

30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

I sat in the quiet, cold, white doctor’s office in Sydney, Australia. There was crinkly loud paper under my legs as I waited for my MRI results. I had been in pain for months and desperately wanted to know what was wrong. The doctor removed his glasses, pointed to the images, and told me I had a compressed disc in my lower back, narrowing of the spinal column and arthritis.

I was 21, living in a foreign country and alone. I burst into tears and all the worst-case scenarios ran through my head. He told me I could never run again, and worse, I would need to stop exercising completely for an indefinite period of time. Sports, activity, exercise, running, being athletic and adventurous – that was my identity and had been for most of my life. I went home and crawled in bed. I felt hopeless, defeated and depressed. My boyfriend at the time, now my husband, came over and tried to cheer me up. But it seemed nothing could do so.

My life as I knew it was over. If I couldn’t be an adventurous athlete, I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore.

This wasn’t the first time I had been told by a doctor never to run again. In fact, it was the fourth. The first was at the age of 16 after my first knee surgery to fix a torn meniscus. The second and third times were in college. Once was my sophomore year when I was training for a marathon. I have always wanted to run a marathon (and still do), but had to stop two weeks short of the finish line as I developed stress fractures in both of my femurs. The other, my junior year, I found myself on the surgery table, removing part of my meniscus. The doctor once again, as others before him, told me that I should never run again. I nodded my head, healed my knee, strengthened my leg in physical therapy and once again hit the pavement and the sports field.

Which leads us back to the doctor’s room in Sydney. This time it wasn’t my knee. It was my back. And the doctor told me if I chose not to listen this time, if I DID continue to run, that I could pinch a nerve, causing the potential for serious problems long term.

Pain I could handle, but the thought of being paralyzed, or worse, was not a risk I was willing to take. Continuing to ignore my doctor’s advice and push through the pain was not an option anymore.

It was time I started taking better care of myself and my body. It was time I learned what self-care looked like.

I hate the term self-care.

I have always cringed at the term self-care and therefore, any advice to follow it. Even today, the word still makes me uncomfortable. Something deep within me feels weak when I hear it; like I’m not tough enough or I can’t handle what life throws at me.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always been an athlete, or because I was raised in a fast paced, entrepreneurial family. At six-years-old, I remember walking behind my dad at the store. He kept a fast pace. I yelled ahead, “Wait up Dad, slow down!”. His reply, “Hurry up, speed up, catch up, run!”

So that’s what I did most of my life. I hurried up, sped up, caught up and ran. If I was in pain, I sucked it up and worked through it. If I was tired, I pushed through. If I was sad or upset, I pushed it aside and moved forward.

In my mind, self-care meant slowing down, not progressing; for those who couldn’t keep up. To use a term from my grandpa, I thought self-care was for ‘sissies.’

But what I didn’t realize until that wake-up call in the doctor’s office was that self-care is the very thing that allows us to do everything we want to do in and with our lives.

It is what gives us the energy, strength and resilience to keep going.

I want to emphasize something I wish someone had told me. Maybe someone did, but I needed them to take me by the shoulders, shake me, look me in the eye and say it.

Self-care isn’t for sissies. Self-care is not for the weak. It is not a luxury. And it is not selfish.

When you don’t take care of yourself, are too hard on your body, or don’t take care of your emotional needs, you are at much higher risk for burnout, a variety of mental health issues including anxiety and depression, physical injury and illness.

Not taking care of yourself will always catch up to you. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve had a wake-up call of your own.

Why Is Self-Care Important?

Self-care is quite literally taking care of yourself. It isn’t just about getting a massage. It is any action you take to preserve and improve your health, wellness, happiness and fulfillment.

We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” or “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” These are self-care. You cannot take care of others if you do not take care of yourself first. This takes on a whole new meaning when you also have kids and a family.

    self

    Self-care is doing what needs to be done so you can be balanced and energized to achieve all that you want out of life. Self-care nourishes your mind, body and spirit and allows you to thrive. It increases your happiness, ability to be successful and the quality of your life and relationships.

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    When I look at it that way, not as something for the weak, but as something to help us live our best lives, then instead of becoming an ‘nice to have’ it becomes an important and essential part of life. In fact, I now know it’s the only way to live my fullest life.

      That’s why I’ve pulled together 30 ways to practice self-care so you can live your best life. I’ve got you covered from an integrative wellness approach – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.

      How to Practice Self-Care: 30 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

      Let’s start with the basics. These are self-care practices you can do daily. Many take very little time or energy, and most can be done in less than five minutes, some in less than one.

        1. Breathe

        Deep breathing increases circulation by bringing oxygen to your muscles and brain. This increased oxygen content leads to greater energy and healthier muscles, organs and tissues. Breathe deeply more often. What happened when you started to read this? Did you take a deep breath? Great, you’re already practicing self-care.

        2. Eat Well

        Your body is a machine and food is your fuel. Simple as that. I’ve learned two main things studying diets over the years and working with top health doctors:

        First, focus on eating real, whole, nutrient-dense food; avoid processed foods and refined sugars.

        Secondly, find what works for you. There are lots of options out there – pale0, Mediterranean, plant-based, you name it.

        3. Stay Hydrated

        The human body is composed of 50-65% water. Some parts of our bodies, like our brain, heart and lungs, are more than 70%. Drinking water is a simple, effective way to take care of yourself.

        Aim to drink eight 8-ounce glasses daily. It takes no extra time, energy and effort, so grab a glass and start hydrating.

        4. Sleep

        I used to wear it as a badge of honor that I didn’t sleep much. However, increasingly more studies are coming out on the importance of getting enough quality sleep[1] and, more importantly, the consequences when you don’t. Make sleep a priority. Your mind and body will thank you.

        5. See Your Doctor

        How long have you been putting off making an appointment, tolerating constant pain or dealing with something that just isn’t right?

        Most things can be dealt with if they’re caught early – and are much harder to manage if you wait. Grab your phone, schedule an appointment now.

        6. Express Gratitude

        In order to live a life we love, we must first love the life we live. Research continues to surface on the science and benefits of gratitude.[2]

        Being grateful is one of the simplest, yet most powerful, things you can do to take care of yourself. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

        7. Take Supplements

        Name what ails you and research or ask your doctor what vitamins, minerals, or herbs can support your health and well-being. For example, those with a B-12 deficiency are much more likely to experience anxiety and Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to all sorts of health problems.

        I take turmeric/curcumin to reduce inflammation,[3] and B2 and magnesium supplements recommended by my neurologist for hormonal migraines.

        Always make sure to check the quality and efficacy.

        8. Hug Your Kid, Spouse or Pet

        Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels (the love hormone), increases serotonin (elevates mood and creates happiness), strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, balances the nervous system and releases tension. Only a few seconds can put you in a positive mood.

          9. Meditate

          Yep, you knew this was coming, didn’t you? Check out how to meditate here . And, if you’re one of those people who think you can’t meditate (I feel you, I was one of you!), no more excuses. Try it.

          10. Get Bodywork

          I said that massage wasn’t the only form of self-care, but it is a good one!

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          Bodywork is a staple of my self-care routine. Our bodies store emotional tension in ways that we don’t even realize, and bodywork allows us to release that tension.

          Options include chiropractic, stretching, cranial-sacral therapy, myofascial release work, osteopathy and reflexology.

          11. Take a Hike

          Get the blood flowing. We all know the benefits of exercise. This might be a walk, run, hike, trip to the gym, yoga or stretching. Whatever you do, get your blood and body moving.

          Feel like you don’t have time? Try this short, 4-minute workout:

          12. Spend Time with Those You Love

          Schedule a date night with your partner, a special day with your kiddo or happy hour with your BFF. We are biologically hardwired for relationships and connection.

          Studies prove that people who socialize often have higher levels of happiness. This doesn’t have to be face-to-face; sometimes a phone call is all you need (and can fit in!).

          13. Take a Vacation (or a Staycation)

          More than 50% of Americans don’t use all of their vacation days. Take time off away from the routine of life. Make time to have fun, recover and reenergize.

          14. Do Something Just for Fun

          When was the last time you did something because it was fun or gave you joy? Not because it had a tangible benefit, purpose or ROI?

          Crank up the music and dance. Laugh with your kids. Head to the bowling alley. Play a game. Write. Buy flowers. Follow your passions. Attend a fun event.

          The real ROI? A better, more energized, happier self.

          15. Treat Yourself and Your Body

          When you look good, you feel good.

          Get a haircut, have your nails done, enjoy a facial, manicure or pedicure. When we take care of how we look physically, we feel better emotionally.

          16. Spend Time in Nature

          Studies have shown spending time in nature has a wide range of health benefits including lowering your stress hormone levels.[4]

          Get outside. Head to the forest, hit the beach or take a hike. Walking barefoot and ‘grounding’ can be especially healing.

            17. Eliminate Toxicity and Negativity

            Make a conscious effort to hang out with people who feed your soul and make you feel energized and alive. Eliminate or reduce the amount of time you spend with people and situations that drain you or leave you feeling exhausted.

            Surround yourself with love, encouragement and positive energy.

            18. Take a Bath

            This is a simple and inexpensive way to take care of yourself.

            Add in a little Epsom Salts, essential oils or that bath bomb you have lying around. Light a candle, sit back, relax and unwind.

            19. Practice Self-Reflection

            Self-reflection is about taking a step back and reflecting on your life, behavior and beliefs.

            Take time regularly to hop off the hamster wheel of life. Think about what’s working and what’s not, acknowledge your wins and successes; identify what to keep and what needs to change.

            Try journaling or check out tips for self-reflection here: How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life

            20. Feed Your Mind

            Learn something new! As humans, we have a need to use our full cognitive capacity. We are here to grow and evolve and learning is a huge piece of us feeling energized and alive.

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            Take a class or online course. Read a book. Listen to a podcast.

            21. Lend a Hand

            We also have a need for significance, contribution and making a difference. Among many other benefits , volunteering has been shown to help people feel healthier and happier.

            22. Unpack your Baggage

            Self-care is about taking care of your whole self. Often this means dealing with emotional trauma, past events or limiting beliefs.

            See a therapist. Talk to a coach. Have the conversation you need to have with that person you’ve been angry with for decades. Find a way to move forward.

            23. Be Adventurous

            Get outside your comfort zone. Be brave. Challenge yourself.

            Whether that be a backpacking trip, trying a new activity, or pushing yourself physically, mentally or emotionally, you’ll feel proud, confident and strong.

            24. Tidy up!

            There’s a reason Marie Kondo has become a sensation. When we seek minimization in our homes, schedules, and lives, we feel more at ease and less stressed.

            Try simplifying one area of your life and experience a new level of peace. Have a read on Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, it may inspire you a lot!

            25. Feed Your Spirit

            How are you feeding your soul? This can be anything that relates to you feeling inspiration which means, ‘in spirit’.

            Connect with what makes you feel close to something deeper, bigger, higher – or makes you feel more connected to yourself. This might include meditation, spiritual or religious study.

            26. Get Creative

            We all have a need to grow, use our creativity and express ourselves fully. Find your creative outlet. Paint, dance or take photos.

            Not artistically creative? Ask questions, problem-solve or build something.

            One of my daughters loves building. When she ideates, draws up plans and brings them to life, she is noticeably happier and more confident.

            27. Be True to Yourself

            Self-awareness and being true to yourself are essential to living a happy, fulfilled and successful life; therefore, these are critical elements of self-care.

            Listen to your inner voice. Identify what you need. When we are out of alignment with ourselves, we are more stressed, overwhelmed and at higher risk for health issues.

            Here are 11 ways to be true to you: How To Be True To You When Life Pulls You Off Track

              28. Set Boundaries

              This is important to healthy relationships, a strong sense of self-esteem and healthy life. You must know what you will and won’t accept.

              Identify where energy is leaking out from your life. If you continue to give when you have nothing to give or say ‘yes’ when you mean ‘no’, you will continue to suffer.

              Know, acknowledge and honor your limits and boundaries – physically and emotionally.

              29. Escape

              While avoidance and numbing can be detrimental, a little escape can help recharge your batteries.

              So watch that reality TV show without guilt, catch the latest movie, delve into that novel, or head to the museum. What transports you and completely allows you to shut off?

              30. Be Nice to Yourself

              Be kind, patient and understanding. Treat yourself like you would a close friend. Speak to yourself as you would someone you love.

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              You are enough. You are doing enough.

              Give yourself a break, a little more love and a lot more compassion.

              You are doing a great job – time to tell yourself that.

              Start Taking Care of Yourself Now!

              Now you have 30 ways to take care of yourself! However, you may still have nagging thoughts in the back of your head about why you can’t.

              Ditch Your Excuses

              Here are the most common excuses I hear with a strategy to help:

              I don’t have time for it.

              How many hours per day do you spend watching TV or on social media? Some studies show that the average adult spends over four hours watching TV and over two on social media. What if you took just half that to take care of yourself? Or 1/10th?! We all have the same 24 hours in a day.

              It’s what you choose to do with that time that counts. Many of the suggestions above require no time at all. Take a breath, drink an extra glass of water, speak nicely to yourself, grab an apple.

              I don’t need it.

              Trust me, if you don’t take care of yourself now, you’re going to get that wake-up call one day, if you haven’t already.

              I guarantee it’s going to take a lot more time and energy to fix what’s broken than to take care of it along the way. You have a responsibility to do this for yourself.

              I’m too tired.

              Great! Take a nap. Then you’ve done your self-care for the day. No joke.

              Too often when we are tired, we drink coffee, reach for a sugary snack or find some other way to distract ourselves.

              Self-care is different from day to day. Some days it will be harder than others. Each of the items on the list are meant to GIVE you energy, not take it away. You’ll be amazed at how much more energized and awake you feel after one of these practices.

              It‘s just too hard.

              One big reason people don’t get started is because they think it’s going to be hard. Don’t fall into this trap and do nothing at all.

              Choose something that feels simple and easy to do – and do it. There is no step too small.

              Know Your Motivation

              It’s not the action of self-care that’s most important. It’s about what you get by taking care of yourself.

              What is the real value or importance of self-care in your life?

              To be a better mom, look good, be healthier, have more energy, reduce your stress levels, feel better, see your grandkids graduate from college, get that promotion, sustain the business you’re building, perform at your very best?

              Know your why so you can tap into the motivation for taking care of yourself. If you’re doing this because you ‘should’, it just won’t happen or be sustainable. You must do this because you see value, purpose and benefits at some level. What are those for you?

              Final Thoughts

              “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to life” – Jim Rohn

              Self-care is about doing what makes you feel good – mind, body and spirit.

              If you remember only one thing:

              Do more of what makes you feel good, brings you energy and joy and do less of what doesn’t.

              Had I taken better care of myself in my late teens and my early twenties, I might have avoided two knee surgeries, stress fractures and arthritis. Had I taken better care of myself in my thirties, perhaps I could have avoided anxiety and a near breakdown . But that was my journey and it led me here. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy where here is.

              So now, in my forties, while I still may cringe at the term, I pay attention to and practice self-care. And I often wonder if maybe, just maybe, I continue to take good care of myself, I may just be able to run that marathon one day after all.

              More About Practicing Self-Care

              Featured photo credit: Samantha Gades via unsplash.com

              Reference

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