Day 6 - Giving Back
Challenge #6: Give your time, talents or treasure today
Many of us have a strong belief in giving back.
Not only does it have the obvious benefit of helping others, but it’s one of the most therapeutic things we can do for ourselves.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Research confirms that having a purpose outside ourselves is good not only for our mental health, it’s also good for our physical health, longevity and even our genes!
Today’s challenge is about giving back. Find a way to be of service today. This could involve giving your time, talents or treasure: volunteer your time to an organization you love; use your talents to give someone advice or teach someone a new skill; give your treasure to a worthy cause.
How will you give back today?
A new study suggests that finding our purpose actually improves our sleep quality!
The research team asked older adults to fill out questionnaires that looked at their level of purpose and meaning in life. For instance, they rated sentiments like "I feel good when I think of what I've done in the past and what I hope to do in the future.”
They were also asked about their sleep quality, and sleep-related health problems.
The results showed that those with meaning in life slept a lot better at night: They were 63% less likely to report sleep apnea, 52% less likely to have restless leg syndrome, and had moderately better sleep quality overall.
All from living their purpose?
Yep! A recent study found that having purpose in life was linked to some measurable cognitive benefits in people who were in their 30s up through their 80s. They answered questions and took tests of memory, executive function and cognitive function.
Those with a greater sense of purpose, no matter what age or education level, scored better on these measures than people with less purpose.
Why might having a life purpose lead to all these health benefits?
Well, it takes the focus off ourselves, which seems to be health-giving in more ways than one. Much of our mental anguish, stress and depression is linked to rumination about things we did or didn’t do, worry about the future, and negative self-talk.
Transferring our focus from ourselves to another person might work to quiet worry and distress about our own plight. And now that we know about the powerful mind-body connection, we can see how reducing stress and anxiety impacts our physical health as well.
Stay tuned for the next post to learn how to find your purpose!
What would be different in your life if you lived your purpose every day?
So how can we discover our purpose in life?
Ikigai is a Japanese term which, loosely translated, means “a reason to live,” or our life’s purpose. The diagram below shows the intersection between four main areas of our lives.
Ikigai is the common ground between what we love, what we’re good at, what the world needs, and what we can get paid for.
Finding and realizing your ikigai will not happen overnight. By working toward our ikigai over time, we will continue to grow and develop in our chosen fields or professions. And because our ikigai is our choice, we can feel a sense of autonomy over the journey it takes to get there.
Ikigai is often not something grand or extraordinary, which makes it approachable and realistic for many people. In that way, it also improves our wellbeing because we are always working toward something meaningful.
To create your ikigai, start with each of the four main areas of the circle. Write down the activities and topics you love and the things you are good at. Next, think about what the world needs, specifically from you. Finally, what can you be paid for in relation to your talents and experience. (Psssst - grab your free Passion + Purpose Workbook here!)
Next, start making connections between each of the circles. For example, what do you love that the world also needs? What are you good at that you can be paid for? Answering these questions will help you identify ways of achieving balance within the circles.
When you feel that you have an adequate sense of yourself, brainstorm a few things that could be your ikigai, or how all four areas could intersect and what that might look like in your life. Then ask yourself what you need to start and stop doing to get there.
We all have something unique to offer the world, and our Ikigai helps us discover that.
What’s your unique gift to the world? How do you want to make a difference?