The reality is everyone experiences tough times in their lives. The trick is to build your resiliency so the tough times don’t beat you! One thing that you’ll often find common in resilient people is the presence of purpose in their lives. That’s right – having a purpose in life can help! No one’s life journey is without detours, failures, setbacks, and challenges. Whether it is work challenges, anxiety, stress, unstable personal life, health challenges or family issues, having a purpose makes it all easier to bear.
5 ways purpose can help in tough times
1. Purpose Gives Us Clarity
Don’t get me wrong, having a purpose won’t solve your problems and it won’t ward off the tough times either (sorry). A purpose simply provides you with clarity when everything else might be spiralling out of control.
In his book, Rick Warren says, “when life makes sense, you can bear almost anything; without it, everything is unbearable.”
This clarity driven by purpose will make you unstoppable. Come rain or shine, you know what you want and nothing can sway you from it. You’ll see the obstacles only make you stronger and help you achieve your goals.
2. Purpose Leads to Emotional Recovery
University of Wisconsin’s Department of Psychology, conducted a study to find out the correlation between purpose and negative emotions.
The study discovered that having a purpose in life, helps us reframe stressful situations and allow us to deal with them in a more productive manner–leading to recovery from even severe stressful and traumatic episodes in life.
“How might higher levels of purpose in life contribute to the ability to recover from aversive and unpleasant events? Additional research is needed. However, having greater purpose in life may provide motivation to constructively learn from and reappraise negative events in an adaptive manner and avoid brooding and ruminative tendencies, so as to quickly refocus on one’s goals and purpose.”
Like the study suggests, a purpose in life allows us to build up a resilience muscle that keeps us strong even during hard times. You won’t find purpose-driven people being gloomy and ominous during challenging times, you’ll find them directing all their energy and focusing on recalibrating!
3. Purpose Gives Us a Greater Will to Live
Wow – this is impressive!
One study researched the connection between purpose with our physical, biological and neural health and what did they find…
“The present results showed that higher purpose in life was associated with greater use of preventive health care services and fewer overnight hospitalisations above and beyond the effects attributable to depression, anxiety, and negative affect. This outcome underscores the important point that psychological strengths, such as having meaning and direction in one’s life, involves more than being free from emotional distress.”
So greater purpose can encourage us to utilise preventative health care services and less hospital visits. That sounds good to me!
4. Purpose Helps Us Make Decisions and Smart Ones at that
“Like a compass, purpose offers direction for individuals when making decisions and formulating life goals.” – McKnight and Kashdan, 2009
Stuck on what decisions to make in life?
Researchers, McKnight and Kashdan “proposed five roles that purpose in life fulfils, namely: stimulating behavioural consistency, generating target motivated behaviours, stimulating psychological flexibility, fostering efficient personal resources allocation, and applying higher-level cognitive processing.”
In short – when we have a purpose in life, we are able to execute stable thinking processes and instead of taking impulsive decisions out of grief or stress or anxiety; we make smarter decisions.
5. Purpose Gives Us Hope
Last one is my favourite!
Purpose gives us goals, and goals give us hopes of achieving it with hard work and commitment. It motivates you to set higher expectations for yourself and your future.
In the book, Making Hope Happen, author Shane Lopez shares that having hope can be broken down into three areas: Goals, Agency and Pathways.
You have a goal to inspire you, the agency to believe you can achieve it and the pathways to know that no matter what obstacles you face, you’ll get there.
Time to seek your purpose?
Finding out the purpose of your life has the potential to change everything.
You’re clear about what you truly want and desire in your life, you know what matters to you, and you are constantly striving for that goal. It serves as a strong base in your life and whatever comes at you, this base will always be there to support you lest you fall.
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And this is just four practical experiences to help you find and live your true purpose in life! These practical experiences can support and inspire the self reflection and awareness needed to defining your purpose in life.
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