Are you struggling to find your purpose?

Setting goals that foster a sense of purpose can potentially change our live and better our health.

We often think that purpose arises from our special gifts, but that’s is just a part of the mix. It grows from our connection to others, which is why a crisis of purpose is often a symptom of isolation.

Here are six ways to overcome isolation and discover your purpose in life, researched and suggested by Jeremy Adam Smith, a journalist, writer and editor of Greater Good:

  1. Read

Reading connects us to people we’ll never know, across time and space—an experience that research says is linked to a sense of meaning and purpose. By seeing purpose in the lives of other people,we are more likely to see it in our own lives. In this sense, purpose is an act of the imagination. So, if you’re feeling a crisis of purpose in your life, go to the bookstore or library or university. Find books that matter to you—and they might help you to see what matters in your own life.

  1. Turn hurts into healing for others

Sometimes, another person’s pain can lead us to purpose. When we see someone’s suffering, we make it our purpose to do something to keep this from happening to others.  Many people become doctors, work on research projects, invent solutions, and start or join charities to help others.

  1. Cultivate awe, gratitude, and altruism

Certain emotions and behaviors that promote health and well-being can also foster a sense of purpose—specifically, awe, gratitude, and altruism.

Several studies have shown that the experience of awe makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves—and so can provide the emotional foundation for a sense of purpose.

Of course, awe all by itself won’t give us a purpose in life. It’s not enough to just feel like we are a small part of something big; we also need to feel driven to make a positive impact on the world. That’s where gratitude and generosity come into play.

When we see how others make our world a better place, we’ll be more motivated to give something back. People who engage in more altruistic behaviors, like volunteering, tend to have a greater sense of purpose in their lives.

  1. Listen to what other people appreciate about you

Giving thanks can help you find your purpose. But you can also find purpose in what people thank you for. For most, appreciation from others fueled their work.

  1. Find and build community

We can often find our sense of purpose in the people around us. Many people find purpose in family. Becoming a parent makes us want to build a better world for our children and grandchildren.

If you’re having trouble remembering your purpose, take a look at the people around you. What do you have in common with them? What are they trying to be? What impact do you see them having on the world? Is the impact a positive one? Can you join with them in making that impact? What do they need? Can you give it them?

If the answers to those questions don’t inspire you, then you might need to find a new community—and with that, a new purpose may come.

  1. Tell your story

Reading can help you find your purpose—but so can writing,

Purpose often arises from curiosity about your own life. What obstacles have you encountered? What strengths helped you to overcome them? How did other people help you? How did your strengths help make life better for others?

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