Learn, Share, Grow – Looking for Happiness? Try Purpose

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Below is a lesson from Boston Globe on how purpose is linked to happiness, as well as our key learning.

The Blue Courage team is dedicated to continual learning and growth.  We have adopted a concept from Simon Sinek’s Start With Why team called “Learn, Share, Grow”.  We are constantly finding great articles, videos, and readings that have so much learning.  As we learn new and great things, this new knowledge should be shared for everyone to then grow from.

Looking for Happiness? Try Purpose Instead

By Amy Cuddy

We’re programmed to chase happiness. When we catch up with friends and family, they ask, “How’s it going? Are you happy?” When asked what we want for our kids, we say, “I just want them to be happy.” When we’re not expressing happiness, people worriedly probe, “Is everything OK?” and sometimes direct us to smile or “cheer up!” We’re bombarded with headlines, classes, and apps that promise to make us happier. Happiness becomes an obligation.

Americans’ compulsive pursuit of happiness is a bit like trying, day after day, to nail Jell-O to a tree. The kind of happiness we often pursue — moments of pleasure, delight, bliss, gratification — is slippery, flimsy, and, like Jell-O, devoid of nutritional value. In our culture, it’s both overprized and overvalued, and our pursuit of it can come at the expense of finding deeper and more sustaining versions of psychological and physical well-being.

Continue reading here.

Key Learnings:

  • Happiness as the ultimate life goal, conceived of it not as hedonic well-being; it wasn’t about pleasure. Rather, he believed that happiness was about eudemonic well-being — the expression of one’s true nature through “doing what is worth doing.”
  • Recent research is putting this idea back on the map – sense of purpose is the key to a whole host of health outcomes. People with a greater sense of purpose live longer.
  • Ikigai – (Japanese) a strong psychological connection with one’s purpose
  • A study showed:
    • Not only do people with a greater sense of purpose live longer, they also live better.
    • People with a sense of purpose perform better on cognitive tests, including episodic memory and speed of processing, and show fewer depressive symptoms and functional disabilities.
    • People with a greater sense of purpose were more resilient to stress.
    • Sense of purpose is associated with greater productivity at work, financial success, and even enjoyment of sex for middle-aged women.
  • Finding purpose and living a meaningful life certainly seem to contribute to the quality of our mental and physical health.
  • Not to say that we should quash our desire to feel pleasure; joy ought to be savored. But research shows that we should slightly relegate happiness as the transcendent goal and prioritize finding, feeling, and acting on our sense of purpose. 
  • Purpose gives us hope, and without hope, we cannot expect happiness for ourselves or for our children.
  • There is no permanent happiness haven, no destination any of us can reach where nothing and no one can hurt us. But there’s a sense of purpose in all of us.

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