On Tuesday, The Dalles Blue Zones Project hosted a Purpose Workshop that drew about 40 area residents to the Mid-Columbia Senior Center.
The event had been planned help people define their gifts and identify ways to use them for the betterment of themselves and the community.
Living with purpose has been found to impact mental, emotional and physical health because it gives people a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment.
Some of the residents who showed up for the Feb. 6 workshop had purpose to spare, such as Corliss Marsh, who seems to be involved in most everything going on around town.
Others, such as Neita Cecil, a Chronicle reporter, were seeking to identify a purpose that would fit in with a busy family and work schedule.
Many people think that purpose should be obvious and easy to identify, but that is often not the case. The occasional person may know their purpose from childhood and have spent their whole life doing what they were meant to do. That isn’t the experience of the majority of Americans.
Most people find that their sense of purpose evolves from their experiences in life. And sometimes it changes as the journey of life takes different twists and turns and new skills emerge.
Fresh starts with an exciting and passionate purpose are not only for the young; we can all benefit from pursuing whatever calls us.
If you are one of the people who can’t identify what calls, or where your passion lies, then try out some of the countless volunteering opportunities available and find out what you like and don’t like.
There are people who find a purpose out of the spiritual belief that we are each born to make a difference in the world before we journey to the next level. Others want to feel like they are doing something important with the time they have on Earth.
Mark Manson, an American self-help author, blogger and entrepreneur, has put together a series of questions to help people figure out on their own what is important and what adds more meaning to their lives:
• What struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines your ability to stick with something you care about is your willingness to handle the rough patches and ride out bad days.
• What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry? We all lose touch with what we loved as child as we are taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it. Did you love writing? Taking care of animals? Befriending those less fortunate? Rediscover the sense of passion you had before the world told you that it wasn’t relevant or profitable enough to pursue.
• What makes you forget to eat and stay in your routine? If there is something you like to do so much that you get wrapped up in it to the exclusion of all else, that could be your purpose. Maybe you like to organize things efficiently, help others learn new skills, solve technical problems. There’s a place for those talents to be applied that will improve the quality of life for others.
• How can you better embarrass yourself? Before you find the right fit as a purpose who are likely to try things you suck at and have no clue about what you are doing. If you are willing to be in that vulnerable position a time or two, you will be more willing to try new things out. Don’t avoid doing something you truly care about because of what other people might think if you fail. Feeling foolish can be part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful.
• How are you going to save the world? In case you haven’t noticed, the world has more than a few problems. To be truly fulfilled, we must hold on to values that are greater than our own pleasure or satisfaction. So, pick a problem and get busy, there are plenty to choose from: mental health care, domestic violence prevention, neglected children, abandoned animals, government corruption —the list is long. Find a way to contribute to the solution.
• If you had to leave the house all day, every day, where would you go and what would you do? For many people, old-fashioned complacency is the enemy. We distract ourselves with a comfortable couch and a beer, or a bag of Doritos. Passion is the result of action, not the cause of it. Figure out what you would do with all of the time you had to be away from the house every day and then get busy.
• If you knew that you were going to die one year from today, how would you want to be remembered? Although thinking about death freaks many people out, it has a lot of practical advantages. We are forced to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting. This is a good opportunity to re-evaluate your priorities and decide what your legacy is going to be. What stories are people going to tell when you’re gone? What will your obituary say? Figure out what your values are and stop living other people’s priorities instead of your own.
Discovering your purpose essentially boils down to deciding to do something bigger than yourself, bigger than those around you. It is a commitment to spend your limited amount of time well; to get off the couch and act to make the world a better place because you’re in it.
Volunteerism builds communities by bringing people together to enrich the lives of everyone who lives there. There are dozens of causes that rely on impassioned people to furnish manpower and find creative ways to raise fund and deliver services.
We can decide, as communities of the Mid-Columbia region, to improve the quality of life for all residents, but it is going to take work on the part of each and every one of us.
We can build social capital, a sense of belonging, that makes life more meaningful for all of us.
Put down the remote, stow the Doritos and let’s get busy.