Stuck in a rut? Not sure where your life is heading? Feel like you’re going through the motions?
We all go through lulls from time to time, but feeling like we don’t have a purpose can be detrimental to our wellbeing. Those of us without a sense of purpose are more likely to be depressed and have a shorter lifespan than those with more meaning in their lives. Having a sense of purpose and some control over our lives are key to wellbeing.
This week’s post is all about helping us find or re-discover our sense of purpose. This may seem a bit daunting, but by answering a few key questions and reflecting on what we are passionate about, our purpose will become clearer.
What has purpose got to do with wellbeing?
Feeling purposeful has many benefits for our wellbeing. Firstly, it helps us recover from negative and stressful life events. Even when controlling for other factors such as age, gender and subjective wellbeing, higher levels of purpose in life were linked with better recovery from a negative event.
Secondly, purpose in life is linked with increased exercise and other health-promoting behaviours. When given a meaningful task to do over a period of time, those who engaged with the task – those who introduced a purpose into their lives – demonstrated improved stamina and flexibility.
Thirdly, people with a sense of purpose feel better about how they look and are more satisfied with their lives.
So how can we find our sense of purpose and improve our wellbeing?
The Japanese have a concept called Ikigai, which essentially asks, ‘what gets you out of bed in the morning?’ Ikigai relates to the happiness of doing activities involving mental or physical effort to achieve a purpose or result. That purpose could be anything from improving the environment to creating art or helping others. We all have own purpose, we just need to find it.
There are four key questions to answer to help find your Ikigai:
- What do I love?
- What am I good at?
- What does the world need?
- What can I get paid for?
Answering these questions is like following a treasure map to help you find out wonderful things about yourself, that you can share with the world and others will thank you for it.
What do I love and what am I good at?
Identifying the passion and talents we have can give meaning to our lives. The two elements of Ikigai we’re looking at this week are what we love and what we are good at. We can find our Ikigai where these cross over. As this is 15 minute wellbeing, we will just focus on these two questions this week, and what the world needs and what we can get paid for in next week’s post.
To help you figure out what you love, answering the following questions may give you some ideas. For all the questions in this week’s activity, you can give more than one answer, so don’t feel pressured to find one clear purpose straight away. It can take time to find your Ikigai so don’t rush and answer everything honestly.
What do I love?
- What activities give me a sense of excitement?
- If money was no object, what would I spend my time doing?
- What did I love to do as a child?
What am I good at?
- What are the things I do that often get a positive response?
- What do people compliment me on or praise me for?
- What subjects did I do best in at school?
All the questions are included on this week’s worksheet, so you have somewhere to record your answers. Click the link below to download the worksheet. You can fill it in using the ‘fill and sign’ tool or alternatively print it off and fill it in by hand.
If you enjoyed the first step in discovering your Ikigai, or feel that finding your Ikigai has helped improve your wellbeing, please do get in contact and share your story.
I share wellbeing-related research, news and stories on twitter and Instagram in between weekly blog posts so do follow @15minwellbeing on both platforms to keep up to date.
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