4 Steps to Living with More Purpose
Living a life with more purpose is something that many of us strive for. To feel like we are putting our skills and character strengths to good use, satisfying our passions, and making a positive impact in our own little corner of the world – it doesn’t seem like too much to ask for. Yet figuring out how to live with purpose is not always easy. Between paying the rent and supporting our loved ones, fretting about financial security and trying to have a semblance of a personal life, carving out time to live more purposefully can seem like a distant dream.
But according to Megan McDonough, founder of the Wholebeing Institute, your ability to live with purpose can begin right now, in the present moment. Her Living with E.A.S.E. model is a four-step process to establish more mindfulness in each day, so that every one is spent with more intention, and can build you up towards a more purposeful life. According to McDonough’s philosophy, finding purpose in this way can help everything else in your life flow more easefully. Curious? Here are the four steps of the model that you can begin following right now.
Step 1: Notice Your Experience
In her book Infinity in a Box, McDonough states that “living deliberately is a matter of focus, not of surroundings; a matter of choice, not of circumstance; a matter of priority, not of personality.” First, bring your awareness to your present experience. Put aside any thoughts about what’s next, or what happened earlier, and simply observe this moment with curiosity. Scan your body, your energy level, your five senses, and notice your breathing. What thoughts are you having about the present moment? Is it boring? Relaxing? Stressful? What judgements are you making about it? Is there a disconnect between your expectations and the reality of this moment? Keep noticing what’s going on as you move through the different experiences that make up your days, and as you observe your overall life experience.
Step 2: Broaden Your Awareness
The second step of the E.A.S.E. model is about opening up your focus and perspective by looking outwards. Now that you’ve gathered as much information as you can about your experience from the inside, how can you build on the information beyond that? Question how your mind is responding. What other possibilities and perspectives can you explore? Try to surrender to what is, and see what starts to shift in your thought patterns. Relax and breathe, so that you can remain calm and grounded. Cultivating this kind of awareness means letting go of any preconceptions of how things relate to each other, as well as relinquishing any black and white thinking – right and wrong, truth and fiction. It might mean accepting that seemingly opposing ideas can be true at the same time. Broadening your awareness around your overall life can include actively seeking out new philosophies, feeding your curiosity, and expanding your consciousness.
Step 3: Take Some Self-Reflection
The third step is where you begin to get more purposeful and, according to McDonough, more heartful. Now that you have a much broader picture of your situation and experiences, how is your heart responding to them? Where have you felt both in and out of alignment with your values? McDonough says that purpose is not about what you want to do, but how you want to be. Reflect on how you’ve been showing up in the smaller moments, and observe which behaviors felt truthful to you – such as being brave, loving, playful, kind, or adventurous. She recommends creating a “passion statement” – a few words that sum up your own value system, and that would make you feel purposeful and fully aligned living by, every day.
Step 4: Elect to Live Your Purpose
The final step to Living with E.A.S.E. is choosing to embody your passion statement – the values that encapsulate how you want to show up in the world – in every moment. This isn’t about grand gestures, but how you approach the everyday moments. Neither is it about perfection, but rather, the intention to practice your values – with the self-awareness to recalibrate when you find yourself off-course. If you value compassion, in every challenge, you can ask yourself: how can I bring in more compassion here? If it’s authenticity, the question might be about expressing more of your truth. Look to role models that are successfully living the values you’ve identified, and return to these as beacons of hope and inspiration. The more you practice with intention, the easier it will become, until it’s second nature to live your values no matter what is going on. Once that intent has seeped into every part of your life, you’ll be living more purposefully without even trying.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals that influenced this article: Purpose, Hope And Life Satisfaction In Three Age Groups; The Keys To Happiness; Association Between Purpose in Life and Objective Measures of Physical Function in Older Adults; Sense of meaning and purpose in life linked to longer lifespan; Life Crafting as a Way to Find Purpose and Meaning in Life.
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