Purpose or Happiness

As I reflected in my annual year in review exercise I asked myself the question about what gave me deep meaning last year in my work. Despite have done some great work with my client companies the one clear message that came to me was my work done in my volunteer activities.

Research tells us that to create a sense of well-being in our life, we benefit more from achieving meaning and purpose in our lives than in pursuing happiness, for its own sake.

In one research study of group programs with patients who had metastatic cancer, those in a group that had “meaning centered” discussions such as “what has been important to us in the past and what is important for us in the future?” had fewer physical symptoms and a higher quality of life than those patients in a comparison group that discussed “what we need from others” or “how to talk to our doctors.”

In this past year, my work in assisting STANDING FIRM, an organization that helps employer’s address the dangerous issues of partner violence and its impact in the workplace, was particularly meaningful. The team has grown the program to a high level of success but our long-term sustainability was not ensured. One of our major goals for this year was to find a permanent for the organization that would allow us to grow the program. Through the hard work of many people, we achieved our goal by merging with the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

We build our resilience by having a firm footing about who we are and what is important to us. If you’ve not had a chance to reflect on 2017 and to set your aspirations for 2018 its still not too late. As the author Robert Bryne reminds us, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018

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