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Power 9 | Life Purpose

Power 9 | Life Purpose

What gets you out of bed in the morning?  Helps you grit through work that is not necessarily fun moment to moment but is ultimately rewarding? Are there long running themes of interest in your life?  Things you always come back to? 

The answers to these questions are key to figuring out your life purpose, and are rooted in a passion for something you do rather than the accolades, earnings or recognition garnered from your efforts.  It turns out, unsurprisingly, that purpose matters. In fact, it has been identified as the single most important factor in determining a person's vitality for life and longevity.

The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida” says Dan Buettner in his theory on the Blue Zone lifestyle of the world’s longest live people.  Buettner’s findings show it improves both quality and quantity of life.  People possessed of purpose not only sleep better, they also enjoy better mental health and live up to seven years longer than others.  Both Ikigai and Plan de Vida roughly translate to “reason for being” and finding them can be elusive.  Many eastern and native cultures view spiritual and meditative practices as a part of development, just like reading and writing, because they are intended to develop and focus on ones reason for being. And yet, in Western society we have devalued the importance of spiritual development and practice to the extent that identify ones calling can take a lifetime to achieve.…if ever.  

In the quest to find ones purpose, Daniel Ariely’s work on motivation is very clarifying.  In his book Payoff, Ariely explains the difference between short and long-term satisfaction and their impact on vitality for life.  Short-term happiness is about immediate gratification- playing, laughing, enjoying a Magherita on the beach or being tickled.  Long-term happiness is defined by purpose- a sense of meaning, accomplishment or personal involvement. Duration is an important factor- the things that ultimately determine meaning are not necessarily enjoyable moment to moment. They take time to cultivate and bear fruit.  Furthermore,  humans are wired to self-sabotage, to over emphasize and be motivated by short term happiness in lieu of taking a long view.  “We often pick the things that allow us some easy reward in a short-term, even though it’s a lower (payoff) in the long-term,” say Ariely.  Stuck in a rut? “Train yourself in a few areas that will yield well-being benefits for the long run” advises Ariely.  Check-out this blog on process how to do exactly that.

Motivation is a critical part of success. “If we are contributing in a way that will have no impact on anybody and is disconnected from us, it’s not very motivating”, says Ariely “if we wake up in the morning and we have a chance to do something that would help other people we’ve been agents in change, that’s very motivating”.  Being connected to ourselves and to others then working at something consistently over a reasonable period of time is essential to unlocking ones life purpose.

USEFUL LINKS

Ikigai | Your Reason for Being

Finding Ikigai

Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations



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