Cultivate a Sense of Purpose & Contribution

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

A sense of purpose is born of the things that matter to you deep inside, that you believe in, and that you value greatly. The greatest gift a sense of purpose will give you is the chance to live by those values and thus to be true to yourself. You may discover your sense of purpose very early on or at a later stage in your life. It will be influenced and shaped by your life experiences and the people you meet. Not only will it connect you to your authentic self, but it will also become the ultimate driving force behind your striving for your goals. It will give you the strength and perseverance to pursue your dreams when faced with obstacles or adversity. Most importantly, it will remind you, every single day, of how precious, unique, and meaningful your life is.

It’s not always easy to feel a sense of purpose. There are times when you may feel aimless and when you’re not sure what the meaning of your life is. Don’t let those transitory feelings define your life. Just pause, breathe deeply, and remember that having a purpose in life has many benefits, a very valuable one being that it will keep you going when the going gets tough. So, don’t hesitate to cultivate a sense of purpose, which you can start doing today. It will require you to put some work into it but it’s very much worth it.

Simple Ways to Cultivate it!
Mindfulness to the rescue.

You may have noticed in the past that It’s difficult to engage in self-reflection and to find inspiration when your mind is overactive and all over the place. For you to discover your sense of purpose, your mind must be at peace and connected to the present moment instead of being wandering into the past or wondering about the future. The practice of mindfulness has the power to reconnect you to the Here and Now. It will calm and appease your mind and relax your body. This will allow you to create some inner space, a sort of pause in time that will help you see and approach things from a place of calmness and awareness. When in that state, you might be surprised to realize how your mind can provide you with some very creative ideas about what your sense of purpose in life may be.

Cultivate your curiosity and discover what you love to do.

Make a list of your interests and of all those activities or topics that excite you and resonate with you. When you’re done with your list, then it’s time for you to explore the items you wrote on it. Be curious about each item. Research them in depth. Read books, listen to podcasts, meet people with similar interests and passions. Broaden your horizons by expanding your knowledge of what excites you. Brainstorm about what you love to do and that resonates with you because sooner or later it will lead you to what you are looking for – your sense of purpose.

Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people.

What kind of people do you hang out with? What sort of company are your friends? Do you enjoy being with them? Do they make you feel good, uplifted and inspired? Think seriously about this because research shows that being around positive, optimistic and confident people will actually rub off on you, and their positive energy might become a real source of inspiration for you. Conversely, if you surround yourself with negative and pessimistic people that drag you down, you might want to reconsider the company you keep. A sense of purpose is born from passion and it’s hard to feel passionate and purposeful when the people around you are not interested in making positive contributions.

Cultivate altruism – give to others.

Research conducted at Florida State University and Stanford showed that giving to others connected people in a way that made them feel they had a more purposeful life. Giving to others doesn’t necessarily mean doing something very significant. It’s a lot simpler than that. It could mean for you to volunteer for a non-profit organization, in a soup kitchen, in a shelter or in a retirement home. It’s about giving a little bit of yourself and of your time to people who are in need. It can also be about simply being kind to people around you on a day-to-day basis, and that can mean just smiling at a stranger in the street or at the grocery store.

Just try it and see how being kind and giving to others can render your life a lot richer and more meaningful.