Tuesday, May 4

What is my purpose?

Why am I here? What is it I am supposed to do? What is my purpose? These are questions most of us have asked at one time or another in our lives. Alfred North Whitehead said, “Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude.”

We may not fully understand our potential because the mind can only think in finite terms of a beginning and an end. Because of this we may be putting limits on our purpose. A purpose in life may have finite moments. We may be called upon to fulfill a need at a particular moment and once that is done, our purpose in that role is too. Maybe we are meant to move from one purposeful act to another, one after another until that moment of infinitude.

There has been research over the years that indicates that older people who still feel useful and needed live longer and happier lives. In a 2009 interview with Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, professor in the Department of Organizational Systems and Adult Health at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore, she states, “I think we often push older adults to do mindless activities when we should be encouraging activities that help them live in communities. People want to feel needed, so the idea is to give people jobs and responsibilities that they can feel good about when they complete them successfully. You might give a patient the job of clearing the table in his or her assisted-living facility. Or you might encourage a patient to deliver the mail or take the dog for a walk, whatever it is that can make that person feel needed — and that they're completing meaningful activities.” We all have seen both sides of it. There are those who retire from their job and no longer know what they are supposed to do and basically sit back waiting to die. There are others like my grandma Francy who at age 93 still volunteers, participates in clubs, finds ways to cheer others up with cards and phone calls.

We can find purpose in our lives on large and small scales every day. It does not matter how old we are, where we live, if we are married or single, have children at home or live alone. What is your purpose for today?

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