Currently viewing the tag: "purpose"


illuminatedtree-570x356 (Copy) You have heard me talk about it over and over—tune into your dharma, find your purpose, connect all your endeavors to your life’s mission. I preach it because I am certain of its universality—knowing and carrying out your life’s purpose will bring you the greatest fulfillment, while serving humanity and the universal dharma at the same time. If you thought my discourse has been purely spiritual mumbo-jumbo, well think again, because a recent study suggests that having a purpose in life actually increases longevity. That’s right—living to fulfill a mission gives more life. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The study, published in Psychological Science, looked at data from over 6000 participants collected in the longitudinal Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) sample, and found that people who self-reported “purpose” to their lives lived longer than their counterparts during the 14 years after the baseline assessment, even when controlling for other markers of psychological and affective well-being.

Said lead study author Patrick Hill of Carleton University in Canada:

master-class-maya-angelou-2-600x411 (Copy)“Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose,” says Hill. “So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.”

Wow! Moreover, longevity benefits were not dependent on age, how long participants lived during the follow-up period, or whether they had retired from the workforce. Simply put: having a life’s purpose “appears to buffer against mortality risk across the adult years.”

But even so, researchers were surprised by the results: “These findings suggest that there’s something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity,” said Hill.

The longevity benefits of purpose in life held even after other indicators of psychological well-being, such as positive relations and positive emotions, were taken into account.

Mandela at 90Well I am not surprised; as I said, it makes sense. When living ‘on purpose,’ we have a reason to get up and go every morning, afternoon, and evening. This must have an effect on our physiology—rarely do body and mind act independently. Just think of stories we hear of people exhibiting super-human strength to save a loved one who’s in danger; or even the somewhat-known statistics showing that many people die shortly following retirement. Once the purpose goes, so often does the will to live.

Purpose gives meaning, and meaning drives us to carry on, so again, to me, these new results are not surprising in the slightest. I will keep pushing people to find their purpose in life—we all have one, on display or latent, I believe we all have a reason for existing in this lifetime. So find it and live it…and you might find that life gives you just the right time to accomplish your mission. If you need help tapping into your purpose—contact me; I have fool-proof methods for uncovering your dharma. And if you are fully attuned to your life’s purpose now—great, keep moving in the direction of its accomplishment, and you will find your fulfillment complete as well.

Part 1 of a multipart series

business planTwo years ago I wrote a piece called, Planning To Go With the Flow, in which I described a strategy for launching any endeavor, whether that be a new business, a creative project, or even starting a family. I explained the necessity of having a ‘purpose’ to one’s cause—what Aristotle called the final cause—and then constructing a blueprint to achieve that cause. Once the cause is determined, I explained, it is wholly appropriate to research, plan, influence, seek help and so on—what I call the planning or pushing stage.

There comes a point, however, when it is simply wise to let nature take its course. You have done all the planning; you have started the action necessary to get the ball rolling—the things you can control have been taken care of. Unfortunately many continue to push here, and if things do not go according to plan, then frustration set in…the stress. My suggestion here, then, is for one to allow things to just happen naturally—to go with the flow—because the unexpected, the stuff we cannot predict, very often leads to the greatest discoveries, the greatest implementations, the things we simply could not plan, those which make an endeavor unique, outstanding instead of just good.

dry riverThis piece stirred some thought in my readers, and an excellent question came as a result: What if the flow stops flowing? What if where there was once a stream stagnancy now sits? My initial answer was that many factors could be responsible for that type of scenario, as well there being multiple solutions, each depending on the cause of the drying up. Over the next few posts I will address some of the reasons why someone’s flow might stop flowing.

The first question I would ask a person in this situation is how they are determining flow. Aha! Back to the final cause… Yes! What is the purpose of the endeavor? Is it fulfilling a need; is it filling a void? Who’s void? What is the purpose to the one carrying out the endeavor—what Aristotle would call the efficient cause? Is it a money maker? Is it one’s dharma? Or is it purely what one loves to do? We must know both the final and efficient causes to answer the stop-flow question sufficiently.

I am certain that we all have a dharma—our truth; our life’s purpose if you will. I am equally certain that if every undertaking is aligned with one’s dharma, one can never go wrong. But the biggest challenge I see people face is that they are not in-tune with what that is. What is your dharma? Call it the final cause of your life—what do you envision your life to be about, its meaning? When you are in those last moments of life, and your history flashes before your eyes, what would you love that story to be? If you have not thought about it, well now is the time to do so.

You will never have a problem refocusing your flow if you tune-in to your dharma. I have said it before: Your purpose need not be grand or lofty. It may simply be to raise healthy, fulfilled and prepared children so that they may carry out their own dharma—can anybody argue the virtue of that? Perhaps you are a teacher, or a merchant, or in transportation—can’t you see the necessity of your life to the entire operation? Take not one life lightly—they all matter.

ripplesBut again when you tune-in to your dharma, it will be impossible for the flow to stop flowing; on the contrary, you will flow even beyond your lifetime, because the ripples of your life affect those you come into contact with daily, and can extend outward to an unknown number of generations. I have read how deeply impacted a twelve-year-old Jack Kerouac was by seeing a man drop dead in the middle of the street one evening, to the degree that it influenced his writing. Just think how one anonymous man’s death became part of a literature that shaped a generation. Nothing is insignificant.

Always have the end in mind, whether in an endeavor or your life. Take the time to think about your dharma, your life’s purpose, and connect all your undertakings to it. If you still find the flow not flowing, then you will know it is for a reason related to—or better yet detached from—your purpose. Next time I will discuss the magnitude of being true to your values.

Back to GodheadI am convinced that all people have a life’s purpose. We are ‘born’ into this existence with certain qualities and drives that are direct reflection of this purpose. The Hindu teachings call it dharma, and the epic scripture, The Bhagavad Gita, spends much time explaining it. It’s easy for people of atheistic or materialistic philosophies to dismiss this idea as simply spiritual mumbo jumbo, but if these people could open their minds to the fact that certain human struggles are timeless, then they might be able to appreciate the true origination of these works or philosophies.

As I said, we are all born into this existence with a dharma. In its full definition, dharma is the universal order—it is pure reality.

Verily, that which is Dharma is truth.

Therefore they say of a man who speaks truth, “He speaks the Dharma,”
or of a man who speaks the Dharma, “He speaks the Truth.”

Verily, both these things are the same.

~ Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upanishad, 1.4.14

All aspects of the universe are determined by their dharma—it is the law that runs the entire operation (and beyond); the harmony in which all things resonate.

Zach Grether, A Canyon Lake Morning"  - 2013 International Earth & Sky Photo Contest, 2nd Place in Against the Lights Category
Zach Grether, A Canyon Lake Morning” – 2013 International Earth & Sky Photo Contest, 2nd Place in Against the Lights Category

Dharma

What are those qualities that determine our dharma? Essentially, they are our values, the inner drives that determine how we spend our time and what we work on (toward). Each one of us is unique in the totality and hierarchy of these values, and they are part and parcel with our dharma, not one the cause or result of the other.

My dharma is to teach and to heal—I know this within the depths of my soul. I have no uncertainty about it whatsoever. It runs a little deeper (much deeper), but I want you to understand the essence of dharma. All my decisions are based on this duty I have to the universe, to existence and all its inhabitants. I take this duty seriously. It’s why I am here.

Nothing takes precedence over my purpose, nothing. This does not mean that I do not attend to other aspects of my life—earning money, my children, my relationships, my health. On the contrary, I connect all parts of my life to my purpose, which has been monumental for my decision-making abilities. If it doesn’t fit into my dharma—and believe me, many things don’t—then I don’t do it, period.

It is so easy to get caught up in the externals of life, and in this case, I mean external to our purpose (not dismissing the reality of the interconnectedness of all things). But here is something I discovered: When we are following our purpose (dharma)—when we are doing what we love, what we are here to do—we do not need to focus on the outer details. When we focus on the outer details (the externals), they simply become distractors to our true work. When we focus on our purpose, without attachment to the outcome, trusting in the universal dharma, the outer details take care of themselves. As hard as this may be for some to believe, just consider your life an experiment on this principle, and act accordingly…and you shall soon see.

But dharma again has a deeper meaning than just purpose, and this is a point of focus in The Bhagavad Gita: our dharma, our life’s purpose, is simply a tool for us to understand ourselves on a deeper level, and in this regard, as a matter of indistinguishability, for us to understand God.

samadhi

And this is where I’ve likely lost the atheistic/materialistic among us. However, if you are still here, just appreciate that we all have a life’s purpose. It need not be grand or lofty, as being the loving caretaker of a beautiful garden and animal children is equally valuable as striving to end all suffering. In the end, our purpose—our dharma—is what drives us. You can help make your life easier (and more fulfilling) by basing all your decisions on your dharma, not focusing on results but on the work itself, and getting to know yourself, and God (sorry atheists) more deeply through complete dedication to your dharma.

*For anyone who would love to uncover his or her dharma, I am available for consultations: drnick@drnickcampos.com


How can seniors both reduce the effects of aging on the brain and give back to society? By tutoring children, that’s how. And it is exactly what thousands of elders are doing–teaching kids how to read, write and do math–giving many of the older folk a renewed sense of purpose.

According to a recent study, seniors who have volunteered for Experience Corps, a program matching elementary students in low-income schools with seniors who serve as tutors, showed improvements in the “executive function” regions of the brain involved in thinking and the ability to organize multiple tasks. The children had much greater reading comprehension and ability to sound out words compared to kids who were not tutored.

The study looked at eight women considered high risk of cognitive impairment because of their low income status, low education level [they had only completed an average of 12 years of school (high school)] and low scores on a cognition test. Researchers say that these preliminary results are encouraging, especially if they can carry over to prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Very nice. And no surprise to me. I know how important keeping the mind sharp is to staying young and vibrant. Obvious? Not really. The process of learning is instrumental in creating new dendrites, which leads to new processing pathways formed in the brain. New processing pathways = youth. Old processing pathways = wisdom. Youth + wisdom = vibrancy, influence and growth. Who doesn’t value that?

Research shows that keeping the mind conditioned through systematic mental exercise can protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Yes, physical exercise helps too–particularly cardiovascular work–and we know how vital staying social is to warding off cognitive decline; but when it comes to maximal brain function and protection, nothing beats good old fashioned learning.

On a final note, there is evidence that having “purpose” can actually prolong life–and volunteering is one phenomenal way to go about it. A recent study showed that retirees over age 65 who volunteered had less than half the risk of dying compared to their non-volunteering peers. Now that’s impressive. If you love helping others, consider volunteering your time and mental prowess to teaching children how to read and solve equations. Really, it’s a win-win situation–they get smarter and you keep trucking. Now what can be better than that?

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