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Pursuing meaningful goals that reflect our purpose plays an important role in developing and maintaining a happy life. Achieving our goals ultimately makes us happier emotionally and more satisfied with our lives.
Why Purpose Makes Us Happier
Positive psychology researchers have discovered that people who have a clear purpose in life experience less pain and anxiety. Feeling good about the future is important for our emotional well-being. Having a purpose gives us direction and something to look forward to. Without goals and a purpose, we just go through the motions of life and can start to feel numb and depressed.
Each goal we set and achieve on the path to reaching our purpose takes us one step closer to true happiness and success in our lives. According to Psychology Today, progress on our goals makes us feel happier and more satisfied with life (this is called our subjective well-being, SWB). In turn, positive emotions then make us more motivated to keep wanting to achieve more. Goals give us a sense of accomplishment and are how we turn our dreams into a reality.
How To Help Our Children Find Their Purpose
Our job as parents is to pass along this knowledge to our children so they can discover their own purpose in life and make goals and choices based on what will make them happy and satisfied.
A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science looked at whether the positive health effects of having a purpose in life also applied to young adults. The researchers found that having a strong purpose can be as important to young adults as it is to older people. This means that finding one’s direction in life should be done as early as possible. We can give our children tools so they can start crafting their purpose, even at a young age.
According to Action for Happiness, “Happiness doesn’t just happen–it comes from thinking, planning, and pursuing things that are important to us.” The types of goals we want to guide our children in setting should:
- Be interesting and engaging to them.
- Give them a sense of meaning and purpose.
- Bring a sense of accomplishment when they achieve them. This will also build confidence for future endeavors.
There is a great Tiny Buddha article that explains three ways for us to discover our purpose: 1) know your values, 2) know your super powers, and 3) know your passion moments. Take a look and spend some time working with your children on these steps.
Ways to Give Our Children New Experiences
As parents, we can guide our children through this discovery process. We can’t tell them what their purpose should be, but we can give them experiences and resources to help them discover their own sense of purpose and ultimately their true happiness. Some ways we can enhance their view of the world around them include:
- Taking them on trips–both domestic and abroad.
- Participating in volunteer activities.
- Being part of a sports team.
- Exposing them to different cultures through food, shows, music, etc.
- Exploring art and science through shows, museums, and classes.
- Giving them opportunities to explore life on their own through camp, group trips, study abroad programs, and spending time with friends and family in other locations.
The world is their oyster–let’s allow them to find their true purpose so they can lead happy, fulfilling lives.
What are some ways you guide your children in finding their purpose?