Stepping back to understand our motivations & purpose
The need for purpose and meaning behind our actions is one of the defining characteristics of human beings. We are in a healthier state of psychological well-being when we are pursuing tasks that are meaningful to us. We can also suffer quite serious psychological difficulties when we don’t.
A lack of recognised and felt purpose or meaning in our life makes us vulnerable to boredom, anxiety and depressive disorders. On the other hand, having a strong sense of purpose can have a positive effect. When we are focused on and engaged with working towards your purpose/s — life becomes easier, less complicated, and less stressful overall.
Why does purpose and meaning in what we do have such a positive effect?
Firstly, it makes us less vulnerable to becoming caught in habitual meaningless pursuits and losing focus and motivation. Also, this can stop us getting into a ‘racing mind’ syndrome.
This is when we become swept away with negative, irrational or upsetting self-talk. Aligning ourselves to a purpose often helps us be less self-centred, and less focused on our own worries and anxieties. When we feel a part of something more important and bigger than ourselves, our sense of well-being increases. This leads to us experiencing more positive emotions.
Purpose can also enhance our level of self-regard and self-esteem. Achieving meaningful goals in life helps build our self-efficacy. Through developing self-efficacy, we can build a sense of competence and achievement. This also enhances our ability to deal with difficulties and challenges when they occur in important areas of our life.
Having purpose is also closely related to health levels of optimism. As we immerse ourselves in purposeful pursuits, it engenders hope and optimism. This tends to enhance our overall feelings of well-being and belief in ourselves, to achieve those things that are meaningful and important to us.
How do we know when we are truly involved in meaningful and purposeful pursuits?
Firstly, we become intrinsically motivated – we are driven internally by our need to do the best we can do for the greater good. These feelings and pursuits are rewarding enough for us to remain passionate about our pursuits without the need for reward and recognition from outside sources.
Secondly, we find a lot of meaning and joy in building close meaningful relationships with others. People who help us attain our goals and pursuits are the best ones to surround yourself with.
Thirdly, we have a sense of leaving a meaningful legacy for others in what we are pursuing and achieving. That is, the consequences of what we are doing will have positive effects for others and not just for ourselves
It is important to note that there can be derailers that lead us away from our meaningful pursuits. A major one is not prioritising tasks and processes that allow us to stay on the journey towards our ‘true north’ – meaningful pursuit. It is easy to be side-tracked or take a detour into less important tasks and pursuits. These may be easier or take less time to accomplish, but when finally attained, they lack real meaning or a sense of accomplishment for us. Another common derailer is ‘jumping on the treadmill’ and doing things repetitively on automatic pilot. Not taking time to reflect upon why our actions are meaningful for ourselves and others can make us lose track of what’s important.
It is important to really focus on these meaningful pursuits so we continue valued behaviour towards important goals. Through honing in on purposeful and meaningful actions, we can drive happiness in our actions, and improve well-being. This leads to improved performance and allows you to truly thrive in your everyday life.
Our Psych Up! resources in March are focused around the upcoming International Day of Happiness (20th March). The Veretis Method uses ‘PERMA – V’: This blog post looks at ‘M’ for ‘Meaningful Pursuits’. Make sure to stay tuned for our weekly blog post updates, as well as our podcasts and webinars.