Why Do You Get Up Each Morning?
Jul 02, 2019
Umm, because I have to?
Sadly, this is probably true for most of us. Take a moment to consider the implications. It means we’d choose to stay in bed all day rather than getting out into world. Now, I don’t think most people really believe this, just the fact that it's our default reaction is cause for concern. We identify more with a sense of obligation than a sense of significance or purpose. Not only is this heartbreaking, it’s killing us.
If you’ve been with me for a while, you know the Blue Zones
are five locations where people live longer, healthier lives than anyplace else on the planet. One of the common themes across the blue zones is the elderly have a strong sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. In Okinawa, they call this ikigai
. In Costa Rica, it’s plan de vida
. Regardless of what you call it, the effects are the same. Studies have shown that people who have a clear goal in life live longer and sharper than those who do not. (p. 282
Does your purpose have to be something massively significant?
I don’t think so. One of the elders that I met in Ikaraia, is known throughout her village as the “Flower Lady” because she never shows up anywhere without a beautiful arrangement, freshly picked from her backyard garden. It’s become part of her identity and it motivates her to keep showing up. Every day. No small feat for someone in her 90s.
Is “purpose” only important in the later years of life?
Nope. Having a sense of purpose has huge benefits at any stage of life. Most of us intuit this. Yet I find that few people actually have a sense of purpose in their life. Why is that?
The word “purpose” has a bit of baggage that most people are unwilling to lift. Try this. Name three people who you associate with having a strong life purpose. Hmmm. Mother Theresa. Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. Pretty tough acts to follow, right?
I’m a believer in the idea of Life Purpose and I’m supportive of anyone who wants to discover their own. I also realize that for most people, this idea feels too lofty or too fluffy to be worthy of consideration. Unfortunately, this means we miss out on the benefits of being connected to a rich source of energy and insight. Perhaps there is a different word? One that isn’t quite as heavy. Some kind of Purpose Light, maybe?
The thing that you bring.
We all bring something. The question is whether you recognize the thing that you bring. Do you appreciate it? Do you connect with it daily, reminding yourself that it’s necessary, not only for the people you are serving but also for your essential self?
What if the people around me don’t recognize and appreciate the thing that I bring?
They say that Van Gogh went largely unrecognized until after his death. Yet he kept painting. He kept bringing it. Every day. He knew what he needed to be doing in the world, even if nobody else did…yet. Of course, they say that Van Gogh was somewhat mad.
I do think Van Gogh was onto something, though. In order for the people around you to appreciate your contribution, it helps to appreciate it yourself.
In the video portion, we’ll explore some alternatives to the traditional notion of life purpose. For now, I’ll leave you with a question…
What is your contribution?