Research shows that those individuals with a clear sense of purpose and the ability to find meaning in both positive and negative events in their lives are more resilient in times of crisis.
Why is this?
From a very young age we begin to ask “why?” These early questions stem from the inherent knowledge that everything in life has meaning and purpose. Unfortunately, as we grow older, we are trained to stop asking why and to just do as we are told. While this might support short term survival, it is a major barrier to our ability to thrive. Thriving requires that we cultivate our ability to find meaning and purpose in everything in life.
In nature everything has a purpose. Every plant, animal, insect, stream, and natural process has some specific contribution to make to the whole. Everything is interconnected. Everything is important. Everything has its own special place, role, function, and purpose.
Just as each species has a unique niche and an environment where they function best, so does each person. If you take an insect or animal out of its indigenous environment, you run the risk of upsetting the balance both in the new environment and in the old one. Discovering purpose and seeking meaning in all events in your life directs you to the niche where you are best able to thrive. This supports and sustains the optimal health of the whole system and is why cultivating a sense of purpose and meaning is critical for building resilience in the face of crisis.
To identify your own unique purpose, begin by looking at the contributions you already make in your life and work. What do you contribute to your family, your friends, your workplace or your community? Think about the talents and strengths you have and how you naturally use them in a way that serves others. Think about your values, the choices you make, and your natural ways of being and consider how these contribute to those around you.
The next step is to look at the needs you see and the contributions you get most excited about making. What needs do you see? What are you most passionate about giving? How would you most like to make a difference? How would you love to be of service? How do you want to add value to the world?
Not everyone sees the same needs. The needs you see and your level of passion for them are related to the abilities, talents, and resources you have access to that can address those needs. When you are giving to others in ways that align with your purpose and your passions, it will be energizing and fulfilling, rather than being a source of stress.
In times of crisis, people pull together to help one another. For many, it is also a time to re-examine their lives, get clear on their priorities, and take action to make a positive difference in their own lives as well as the lives of those around them. I hope that all of you will take the opportunity to use these stressful times as a catalyst for connecting more deeply with your own sense of purpose and building greater resilience for your future.