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Mindful : February 2019
By Jeremy Adam Smith Longing to Feel a Greater Sense of Purpose? Knowing what you’re passionate about is just part of the equation. Finding purpose also takes realizing that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jeremy Adam Smith is Editor of Greater Good magazine, the publication of the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley, and author of The Daddy Shift. What drove Malala Yousafzai to find the strength to launch a campaign for the rights of girls and women in Pakistan? What leads some- one to start a community garden in the middle of an urban food desert? From very public lead- ers to people in your daily life working to make things better for their families, neighborhoods, or workplaces, they each have at least one thing in common: a strong sense of purpose. As a trait, purpose appears to have evolved in humans so that we can accomplish big things together—which may be why having a power- ful sense of purpose is linked to better physical and mental health. Purpose is adaptive, in an evolutionary sense. It helps both individuals and the species to survive. Yet when it comes to our own sense of purpose, many of us are at a loss. We struggle to know what role we play in the bigger scheme of things. We dabble in this or that; we get inspired and then lose interest; and mostly, we just feel frustrated that we don’t know “what we were born to do.” The prevailing belief is that purpose arises from having a gift or passion that sets you apart from others. But that’s only part of the truth. A sense of purpose also grows from your connec- tion to others (which is why a crisis of purpose can also be a symptom of being isolated). Here are a few ideas to uncover ways to make a difference in your life—and connect to others in the process. 20 mindful February 2019 LIVING | how to