Pursuit of happiness: Live with purpose

What makes you tick? What excites or inspires you – or gives you a deep sense of contentment? Knowing the answers to these questions means you probably have a sense of purpose that drives you, and that’s a good thing for your overall wellbeing. 

However, having a purpose isn’t something you’re born with; it’s not tackled in schools, or commonly discussed much around the family dinner table. 

Learning how to find your purpose is often more of a personal journey that helps you understand yourself better and realise what you stand for, as well as learn about what’s especially meaningful to you. Purpose can steer you towards a rewarding career, drive you to make choices that benefit your life, and even help you navigate those tough times we all face.

Here are seven things  you can do to help find your purpose and live a happier life.

1. Reflect on your values and passions 

This is a great place to start as your values, at a pinch, are the things that are most important to you – such as family, friendships, good health or making a difference in your community. Your passions, on the other hand, are values or activities which bring you joy and fulfilment – and can quite often be separate from your day-to-day work.

For example, you might have a passion for reaching a fitness goal, such as running a marathon. Or you might get fired up over social issues and join a group that advocates for social change or another charitable cause. Or, you might love creating jewellery and start a side business selling your designs, or start another side hustle. Passions make us happy and make life interesting, and many of us indulge in different ones over the course of our lives. So, it’s a good idea to spend some time reflecting on what your values and passions are. 

2. Explore your diverse interests 

Whether you love to crochet baby blankets or do indoor rock climbing, it’s a fact that having diverse hobbies and interests can boost your wellbeing

A recent Harvard study found that older people with hobbies enjoyed better health, happiness, and fewer symptoms of depression. It’s believed that hobbies – such as arts and crafts, games, volunteering or gardening – tap into our creativity, sensory engagement, self-expression and relaxation, which all boost mental health and wellbeing. Hobbies keep you socially connected, too, which leads to less loneliness and isolation. 

Diverse interests can also unlock creativity, give you new skills and lead to innovation in your own career. So go on, sign up for that wheel-throwing workshop!

3. Define your contributions 

It’s sometimes said that true purpose is about knowing what your personal gifts are and using them to contribute to making the world a better place. But contributions don’t have to mean big grand gestures. Rather, it might be small moments of being generous and providing practical help to a neighbour, volunteering your time to a group because you have specific skills – or giving money to a cause you believe in. 

Even the smallest contributions can have a big impact and make you feel better about your purpose in the world. Some examples of contributing to your community might include raising money for causes you believe in, donating blood, or volunteering at an animal shelter.

4. Set meaningful goals 

Setting well-defined goals (and meeting them!) can help solidify your purpose and give you a sense of achievement and motivation. Your goal might start with an overall vision of what you’d like to achieve – be it career-related, a financial milestone or a desire to get married and start a family. Or, you might have big goals around education and knowledge that you’d love to acquire.

The SMART goals framework – making your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based – can be useful in breaking your goal down into manageable chunks so they’re easier to work through and achieve.

5. Embrace challenges 

We all face obstacles in our lives, from minor mishaps (like the car breaking down) to big curve balls (like losing your job, suffering a significant health issue or navigating a break-up). 

But did you know that having a deep sense of purpose may help you reframe challenging or stressful situations so you can deal with them more productively? It’s true – and studies show a sense of purpose can also boost your emotional recovery from tough situations, help you grow as a person and build resilience for the future. 

6. Practise gratitude 

Being grateful boosts your self-esteem, makes you feel optimistic – and has positive knock-on effects for your overall wellbeing. For example, thanking people who work for you can motivate them to work harder. And other studies show that writing a simple thank you note can just make you feel happier. 

Meditation and mindfulness can also be powerful tools for practising gratitude and the things you’re grateful for – as can keeping a gratitude journal. There are lots of free online gratitude journals you can use if you’d prefer a digital version.

7. Assess your finances 

According to our Real Aussie Financial Bite Report, close to 1 in 2 Australians are now feeling less financially secure than they did pre-pandemic. In a time where our finances are all we can think about, it can sometimes feel awkward talking about them when working out your life’s purpose. It shouldn’t, because good financial literacy and a solid earning capacity gives you choice – to live a life according to your values.

Assessing your finances might mean being honest about your career: are you doing something that lights you up? A job you’re passionate about? If not, is there an opportunity to work towards a career you really love? Also, how are you building wealth? How are you protecting the wealth and the life you have built? Do you have an emergency nest egg, the right insurances in place, savings goals you’re working towards? Talking to a professional financial counsellor or advisor might help here if you need guidance.

Secure your future 

As you can see, finding your purpose isn’t just about achieving one thing – it’s a combination of your values, passions, interests, contributions, and goals that help you to create a meaningful life, improve your wellbeing, and achieve greater happiness for yourself. 

When you create a purposeful life, you may consider protecting it and those in it, who matter the most – your loved ones – which is why protecting what you hold dear can be an important consideration. You may want to see if Real Life Insurance is suitable for helping secure your family’s financial future, and request a quote online today.

This is general information and does not take into account your financial situation. Please consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Financial Services Guide and Target Market Determination available at realinsurance.com.au to ensure these products suit your needs. All products are promoted and distributed by Greenstone Financial Services Pty Ltd ABN 53 128 692 884, AFSL 343079 (GFS), trading as Real Insurance. The insurer for all life insurance products is Hannover Life Re of Australasia Ltd ABN 37 062 395 484, AFSL 530811. Terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Sub limits may apply.