Having a life purpose appears to be more important for decreasing the risk of (early) death than whether you drink, smoke, or run on the treadmill four times a week. Daniel Goleman
This makes sense, huh? Any time we’re acting from our life purpose, we’re being open-hearted, generous and authentic, so we drop in to parasympathetic nervous system. Then we’re in rest-and-digest which naturally promotes health. Happiness, connection and fulfilment do the same.
Burnout and Purpose
My discovery in life before and after burnout is that purpose goes hand-in-hand with wellbeing.
When I follow my purpose, I am congruent and everything just flows. I naturally increase my self-respect and self-care, along with my respect and care for others. I look for the good in my experience and create more of it.
Whereas in burnout I am pushing everything in life against the grain, fuelled by adrenaline, trying to force the right outcomes from sheer willpower. No wonder it’s exhausting and health collapses.
What joy ever came from force?
I hear that we can’t outrun a bad diet. But I don’t think we can outrun a sick mind, either.
When we aggressively struggle to be this ‘best version of ourselves’ by DOING more and better, our minds are sick and dis-connected from the source of love and vitality.
It’s all about us.
And in burnout, we already know that’s not where the answer lies.
In burnout, most people withdraw and isolate. Or if they’re around people a lot, the distance between their public and private selves widens protectively, until they feel lonely and misunderstood. Chances are, they’re not communicating their real experience, even to intimate friends.
Men, you know what I’m saying, right?
One of the biggest predictors of early death and heart disease is actually loneliness.
In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States, wrote, “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.”
Life Purpose Connects
Life Purpose has altruistic motivation, to enrich or protect the lives of others. The more I research happiness, the more deeply I understand that real happiness comes from giving.
Altruism – disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others
When we have a life purpose, regardless of what it is, it connects us through our hearts to other beings. It awakens the side of us that cares deeply and generously, and which is a source of great confidence and power. We actively connect with our real selves, so we can gather our inner resources to give to others. We stop counting the cost and indulging the fears. We focus on our purpose.
Connecting with our hearts is the purest form of energy we can access
As you read this, try this exercise:
Do you feel different? When we connect with our hearts, or our purpose, it’s uplifting and pure. It demands nothing, but honours everything.
But what is my purpose?
Many people ask me how to find their purpose. How I found mine was by listening to the quietest, smallest voice inside. The one so easily overlooked.
Pause and listen.
Our intuition has many ways of communicating with us (mine sings me songs) and is persistent. Some people tell me it’s the voice they’ve been ignoring for years, because it told them something challenging that didn’t fit their map of themselves. Mine was like that too.
Fighting your inner wisdom is a profound cause of stress and disease in the mind and body.
Meditation, learning to listen to the body and mind, to its suffering and moods, its yearnings, is a real help if you can’t access your intuitive voice. Pause and listen.
Sometimes, if you are in burnout, work on healing the symptoms of burnout will reveal the voice.
Your answer is inside you
Don’t doubt it, when you hear it, your inner voice always knows best. It may not ask big changes of you – you may not need to change job, career, country, partner, religion… etc. Sometimes you can change on the spot and achieve purpose. If you are a shopkeeper or a president, you can still do your work with altruism.
Remember purpose is only that – the shift from self-seeking to altruism.
Acquire somehow a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others and act on that with passion.