Having a purpose

I intentionally separated myself from my primary “purposes” of family, work, email and cell phone in making this move. Right out of the gate I was struck with a feeling of loss and a desire to redefine myself in this new and different environment. I wrote about this in one of my earlier posts.

I recently read an interesting post on another blog titled My Better Nursing Home that included a quote from a nursing home resident:

“I have the will to have a purpose, but now I need assistance grabbing onto it.  Just as we residents need help with cooking and serving our meals, but have the will to eat, we need help in putting our thoughts together to work on a project with a purpose.  Growing older, I would like to use my wisdom to help someone else.  I want to contribute to a larger cause.”

I really see that a primary role that we can play as families and advisors to our elders is to serve as a “guide” to redefining purpose. At age 43 the last time I had to really redefine myself was when I went away to college over 20 years ago. Back then as with my current project, It took alot of effort and risk to integrate myself in a new community where I was an “outsider”. Once I tasted the benefits of new friendships and experiences, it became easier. As this quote states, I think many of our elders want and/or need a “guide” to redefine their purpose.

I also think that sometimes we might be too focused on doing things for our elders as opposed to helping find ways they can help others as this nursing home resident shares in her quote. To a motivated “student” a senior living community can serve as an unbelievable “school”, but it will require us to get outside our traditional definition of how and where we learn.

An interesting study on the subject of purpose was prepared by the Metlife Mature Market Institute, here is taste of its content:

The concept of “purpose,” even the word itself, is something held in high regard by many, perhaps even most. Some describe purpose as giving them a general direction for their lives, while others even go so far as to allow it to prioritize the key choices required in their day-to-day living. And yet, many might find it difficult to describe what purpose is and, even more difficult, to honestly point to how they will use it in the daily choices they make.

This report really reveals some interesting points about how important purpose is in our lives and how it helps define a “good life”.

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