Why Should I Live a Life of Purpose?

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  1. Why Should I Live a Life of Purpose? 

Some people believe that life is meant to be endured, not enjoyed. They believe you take a job to be financially stable, not to do what you enjoy. For them, we’re all here to fulfill a purpose, but it’s a very small one. How do you talk to somebody like that? How do you tell them that it’s okay to not do the job that you hate? How do you tell them that it’s okay to pursue that secret, fleeting thought about what would truly make them happy in life? 

Living a life of purpose is an abstract concept for some. Many people are deeply conditioned since birth that one life’s purpose is to make money, maintain a certain status, become popular, or collect material things. While you are exploring your own life’s journey, it might be hard for others to comprehend. Sometimes it helps to explain it in this way: Living a life of purpose is actually good for your heath. 

When you are living a life of purpose, it means you are doing what matters most to you — something you love, not something you feel you have to do. As a result, you have more energy, more enthusiasm, more creativity, and more power. Life becomes richer, moment by moment. Your sense of humor may become heightened because you find amusement and joy in the little things. You accomplish more. Life becomes more meaningful. 

When you experience hatred and dislike toward your life, it causes stress in your body. Scientists have performed studies about what makes humans happy and what happens in the body when they stop doing what makes them happy. 

One of the studies focused on Marines who, like most in the armed forces, lived their lives to serve their country. These Marines would serve in the Corps in a completely healthy, athletic state for twenty or thirty years before retiring. However, as soon as the Marines returned home, they lost the meaning in their lives. They woke up in the morning to no purpose, feeling bored and lacking the kind of relationships they had with their comrades. Consequently, this stress caused the Marines to gain weight and experience health problems, and a large number of the Marines passed away within a few years of retiring. 

There’s actually a term called apoptosis used by scientists that refers to this process of “programmed cell death.” By forfeiting all meaning in their lives, the Marines were essentially “telling” their cells, “I have served my purpose, and now I have nothing more to live for.” 

I’ve experienced a lesser version of this in my own life, when I moved to America after working overseas. Working abroad, the nature of my career kept me in tip-top shape in order to perform to the best of my ability. Since moving to the United States, I have gained a few pounds now that my job is more sedentary. While I would not be considered overweight and I hit the gym regularly, I couldn’t seem to shake those last few pounds. My wife suggested I attack it from another angle — “Forget about the three or four pounds,” she advised. “Why don’t you do something for your health with purpose, like going back to doing triathlons?” Now, by having something to look forward to and train for, my workouts have completely changed. I have more energy. I get more creative with my exercise routines. I challenge myself to beat my personal best time, or add more reps to my goal. 

Remember, your mind is extremely powerful, and your consciousness has the ability to affect your physical well-being. In this way, living your life on purpose is actually essential in maintaining your overall health. 

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Dr. Alex Ledgister is not your typical “Success Coach.” The former Marine who holds a Ph.D.

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