Quest for a purpose
There runs a famous story of a school building being built in ancient ages. ‘What are you doing?‘ the masons were questioned by Chanakya who was passing by. ‘I am laying the bricks evenly so as to ensure a straight and strong wall‘ answered the first one. ‘ I am learning all intricacies of construction, doing each job after thorough analysis and understanding; working towards being a complete workman.’ quipped the second. ‘ I am building a place which will make the coming generations. I am building a temple of learning which will have disciples who will one day transform the world. I am doing the most important job in the world.‘ proudly acclaimed the last one.
The first one was doing his job, the second was a true professional who was learning and growing. However the last one had got his calling. He was working with intention and purpose. Realizing our purpose, and working on it is one of the primary quests of life. Often conveniently ignored as topic of philosophy, or maybe a question we take should take up at fag end of the life, we willing or unwilling try to evade what should be the most inspiring reason for our existence
Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The great task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life. Frankl saw three possible sources for meaning: in work (doing something significant), in love (caring for another person, as Frankl held on to the image of his wife through the darkest days in Auschwitz), and in courage in difficult times.Man’s Search For Meaning; Frankl, Viktor E
In this article we try to understand what is the meaning of purpose in life, how it assists in emotional recover, well-being and healthy life, and it’s reflections on our social and professional life. We take up research done in the field and how we may access our own strengths, which in term can guide us to recognize our purpose in life.
Purpose in life predicts better emotional recovery
Purpose in life predicts both health and longevity suggesting that the ability to find meaning from life’s experiences, especially when confronting life’s challenges, may be a mechanism underlying resilience. Having purpose in life may motivate reframing stressful situations to deal with them more productively, thereby facilitating recovery from stress and trauma. In turn, enhanced ability to recover from negative events may allow a person to achieve or maintain a feeling of greater purpose in life over time.
Purpose in life as a predictor of mortality across adulthood
Having a purpose in life has been nominated consistently as an indicator of healthy aging for several reasons including its potential for reducing mortality risk. Accruing evidence suggests that finding a purpose for your life may add years to it. Indeed, studies have found that purposeful older adults experience a diminished mortality risk in American samples (Krause, 2009), even when controlling for known predictors of longevity(Boyle, Barnes, Buchman, & Bennett, 2009). Moreover, these benefits are not culture-specific, as work has demonstrated similar effects in a Japanese sample with respect to asense ofikigai, or a “life worth living” (Sone, Nakaya, Ohmori, et al., 2008).
Benefits of individual purpose in professional life
And if this wasn’t enough, individual purpose benefits organizations, too. Purpose can be an important contributor to employee experience, which in turn is linked to higher levels of employee engagement, stronger organizational commitment, and increased feelings of well-being. People who find their individual purpose congruent with their jobs tend to get more meaning from their roles, making them more productive and more likely to outperform their peers.
Creating strong links to an individual purposeIgniting individual purpose in times
benefits individuals and companies alike—and could
be vital in managing the postpandemic uncertainties that lie ahead.
of crisis- McKinsey Quarterly; by Naina Dhingra, Jonathan Emmett, Andrew Samo, and Bill Schaninger
Theory of Basic Human Value
The Theory of Basic Human values, developed by Shalom H. Schwartz is a theory in the field of intercultural research. The author considers the theory as an essential extension of previous approaches to comparative intercultural research theories.
The Theory of Basic Human Values tries to measure Universal Values that are recognised throughout all major cultures. Schwartz’s theory identifies ten such motivationally distinct values and further describes the dynamic relations amongst them.
Nine individual purpose
Subsequent statistical analysis of the survey (conducted by McKinsey) responses highlighted nine common ways that people orient themselves toward purpose (see below “Nine types of purpose”). While an individual’s purpose may hew quite closely to one of these nine types. it may instead arise from combinations of them, with the relative emphasis and priority of elements varying from person to person.
Reimagine a purpose-led future
Academic research and our own experience tell us that an individual’s sense of purpose isn’t fixed or static—it can be clarified, strengthened, and, for some, may serve as a lifelong aspiration, or North Star. And, while what people find meaningful tends to evolve over long timeframes, it can shift relatively quickly, particularly in response to the kinds of life-changing events that many people are experiencing now as a result of the pandemic, or the more recent racial-justice protests. A leader previously fueled by personal achievement, for example, might emerge from the trauma of these times more motivated by issues of equality or by contributing to community. Or a leader formerly motivated by freedom and independence might find the tug of stability meaningful.
While it may be early days in understanding precisely how an individual’s purpose connects to what he or she wants and needs from work—or how these tie to an organization’s purpose—now is the time to start figuring it out. Start by simply discussing these matters with your team openly, honestly, and thoughtfully. By treating this as the beginning of an ongoing conversation about purpose, meaning, and what employees want from work, we can help people better identify and articulate their purpose, and even start finding ways to help them live it more fully at work—an outcome
that will benefit everyone.
Meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. To put the question in general terms would be comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one’s opponent. The same holds for human existence.
-Written by Vishal P Pandey,
Secretary, Vision Group of Institutions
Further Understanding purpose in life
- You may check your ‘Human Values Test’ as per Schwartz’s theory at https://www.idrlabs.com/human-values/test.php
- Authentic Happiness Centre of Penn University also has number of tests of ascertain various aspects of our strengths and general well being
- Shalom Schwartz, “An overview of the Schwartz Theory of Basic Values,” Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, Volume 2, Number 1, scholarworks.gvsu.edu.
- Igniting individual purpose in times of crisis. Report by McKinsey
- Purpose in Life Predicts Better Emotional Recovery from Negative Stimuli
- Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality across Adulthood