Happiness & Purpose: How do they feed one another?
Research shows happiness is fed by our sense of purpose. And having a strong purpose in our life—that reason to get up in the morning—leads to better moods and increased longevity, especially as we age.
I have worked with older adults for more than 35 years and have gleaned so much from their experiences with both purpose and happiness. These are the top five ways I have found to be most impactful in nurturing my life’s purpose. I focus on them as a way to increase my chances of living a longer and healthier life. My hope is that these tips help you find more happiness and purpose too.
1. Share contagious happiness.
My friend, Dr. Becky Su, master practitioner of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine in Bellevue, Washington, shares these words of wisdom: “Happiness is contagious.” If for one night only you can be a beacon of happiness and joy, by the end of the night, everyone in your presence will be happy.”
Make happiness contagious. Smile at others, compliment them, or offer them help should they need it. This is a great reminder that we can find moments of happiness and share those, providing a deeper sense of connection and purpose.
2. Embrace your inner child.
Our beliefs about aging—whether we think of it in terms of inevitable decline or lifelong potential—shape our actual health.
At our Aegis Living communities, we’ve discovered that people who live longer and happier lives seem to have a totem that connects them to their younger selves. Whether it’s riding a bicycle, lifting weights, dancing, or even just dressing up for fun, these activities help keep them feeling young.
By taking yourself back to when you were a kid, worries escape your mind.
3. Practice self-care.
Establishing new goals and self-care practices can give you a deeper sense of purpose.
Some of my favorite activities and practices include:
Getting enough quality sleep each night; I strive for 7 hours
Going for a walk outside to connect with nature
Meditating 22 minutes a day
Drinking plenty of water, especially 12-16 oz. before getting out of bed in the morning
Eating more superfoods, like blueberries, spinach, and nuts
4. Create a gratitude practice.
From Oprah Winfrey to Dr. Oz, the power of daily gratitude practices is widely hailed. If you have never taken the time to stop and take stock of what you are grateful for and why your life and path have purpose, I highly recommend it.
There’s no right or wrong way to do it; it can be speaking it aloud, writing it down, or even just thinking about it for a few moments a day. Many studies have shown that taking time every day to acknowledge the things that make you grateful increases optimism, lowers stress and increases feelings of joy and contentment.
5. Journal to Discover Your Passion.
I have found that when I write it down, it becomes real. Journaling is a fantastic way to discover your passions. Passion, purpose and happiness are very connected.
Spend time journaling about the things that inspire and motivate you. What brings you joy? What do you like to do? What are you most proud of? What gives you a reason to wake up every morning and greet the day with a smile?
Review your journal often. Which items on that list jump out at you and spark your passion? That’s the easiest way to determine the direction your purpose is taking you.
Take gardening as an example. If gardening has become a passion for you, giving it a sense of purpose in your life may lead you to read gardening books, talk to neighbors about what they’re planting and share ideas and tips, speak to experts at nurseries, and move things around in your yard. You get the idea.
The beautiful thing about purpose is, only you can set your path.
Being intentional about fueling your happiness and purpose has so may benefits mentally, physically, and emotionally. Try it!
About the author:
Dwayne J. Clark is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Aegis Living, a best-selling author and longevity expert. His latest book, 30 Summers More, offers up the latest health and wellness research into longevity.