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Tuesday Tip: Purpose for Difficult Moments


In this week’s Tuesday Well-Being Tip, face life’s ups and downs with purpose.

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

Purpose, the fourth pillar of the Healthy Minds Framework, can feel overwhelming at times. Before even approaching the practices it might feel daunting to find “your purpose.” But in the context of the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being, purpose is much more manageable – and can be very transformative. The concept of purpose is merely finding those things that motivate you, that light you up and keep you close to your values – then applying this purpose in daily life.

So, if you are motivated by kindness and appreciation, how can you fold these values into something as mundane as checking your email? That’s the idea.

But what about when things aren’t just mundane, but truly challenging and difficult? What if life throws something frustrating your way – can you still face it with Purpose?

Our lives are filled with difficulties big and small. This week, can you inject a sense of purpose into your mindset right in that moment when things aren’t going your way? Maybe you just got some bad news about a project you’re working on, or you’re annoyed with someone, or maybe you’ve got a headache.

Whatever it might be, as soon as you notice the issue, see if you can reframe it. It can help a lot to practice a little body or breath awareness or self-compassion first, to find some balance. Then whenever you’re ready, see if you can find a real sense of purpose to apply to the situation. 

Your situation might seem hopeless, or meaningless – and it might actually be both of those things. But see if you can connect it to one of your values. Find one reason why it might be important, useful, or even beneficial to face this challenge. Maybe you’ll learn something, or grow in some way. Maybe this will be tough for you, but it will help someone else out. 

This is all very easy to talk about intellectually, but can be challenging in the moment. Give yourself grace, especially if it doesn’t come easy. And maybe start small. Here’s an example.

Let’s say a colleague gets sick and can’t help out at a big meeting, and you’re anxious about handling it on your own. As your stress begins to rise, can you pause and think about what values you could apply in this situation? Let’s say you value compassion – here’s a moment where you can practice compassion for your colleague by taking this project off their plate. You may find that not only will you handle the meeting just fine, you’ll also get a feeling of expansiveness and warmth because the act itself was tied to your value of compassion.

Whatever you come up with, see if you can use this perspective to find new ways to cope with difficult situations. You may find that a small perspective shift can provide a dramatic effect on your overall well-being for the long-term.

Having trouble determining your values? Try this 10 minute seated meditation for a head start.

Get more practices and tips by downloading the Healthy Minds Program App, freely available thanks to the generosity of our donors wherever you get your apps.

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