Monday, April 27, 2015

Purpose in Your Life

The Importance of Purpose

Why are you here? What difference do you want to make? What is your purpose for getting up each morning?

These are basic and simple questions. Yet, the answers to these questions are profound and have specific correlates to one’s mental and physical health. You can only imagine the faces of the teenagers in my audiences across the country when I ask them about their purpose in life. The earlier we get started trying to understand what our lives mean and what difference each of us can make the better our sense of self and overall wellbeing.

Research indicates that living a long healthy life can be explained by how well we adapt to things outside of our control. Longevity and health has much less to do with genetics or cognition. In addition to being adaptive across our lifespan, the idea of purpose in our lives becomes vital. Unfortunately, many do not explore this question and each of us needs to take some time today to think about our purpose.

Sometimes we discuss “will to live” or “attitude” as being important parts of health. A will to live must involve a purpose, something we are driven to represent or achieve, a goal or meaning that is greater than self. The great news is that our purpose in life can be quite simple and small. The important point is that we align what we do with what we care most about. So many are simply acting each day to complete tasks without the connection to our great purpose with our time and action.

Take some time today to think about your life and to consider what you have accomplished for yourself and for others. Then, think about something that you have “always wanted to do” or perhaps reflect on “something that might be missing” in your life. These thoughts will create a pathway for you to identify and immerse yourself in your Purpose.

Once identified, live your purpose to the fullest as if each day is your last. Your passion and positive energy will be contagious. You will feel happier and your body, spirit, and brain will thank you. So will the people you affect in your life as your purpose helps to affect their lives in a healthy and meaningful way.

Dr. Nussbaum

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Brain Carries the Blueprint to Your Behavior

Ellen Langer is a Harvard psychologist who wrote a book (2009) “Counterclockwise” that documented a study she and her students led in 1979 to test the idea that our environment and our thoughts can lead to how we feel, behave, and age.

The results of the study supported the idea that, if you believe you are active and vibrant your body will respond favorably. Essentially, we live in a society that quietly and sometimes not so quietly mandates that we become frail and limited as we age into our latter lifespan.

The study and my belief system is that “your brain contains the blueprint to how you will fell, behave, and indeed age.” We are the only animals on the planet who through thought can make ourselves feel happy or miserable!

Regardless of the social pressure or of the “typical and expected” behavior we are supposed to conform to, it is critical that we establish in our brains the blueprint for how we will age. Our bodies will respect and follow that blueprint to a large degree and this is really the foundation for positive psychology. However, it is much more than that to me.

Dr. Langer underscored an important reality that society has not captured yet. Our brains are the most brilliant system available to us as individuals and as a species. The chemical and electrical energy of our brains have what may be described as unlimited potential. This includes control over our health and it is my belief that one day we will tap into this potential to unlock an entirely new approach to wellness and healing.

Until that day, please bathe your brain in positive thoughts, healthy and happy attitudes, goal setting and big dreams, and ongoing forgiveness, kindness, and love. Your body will take notice and you will age with grace, health, and personal meaning.