The Art And Science Of 'Having A Purpose In Life'

Does having a purpose in life really matter? People who say they have a strong sense of purpose have a 15% decreased chance of premature death, so if you want to be able to live a long a full life having a sense of purpose seems pretty important. But it’s not just the length of your life that will benefit from a sense of purpose. Having and cultivating a strong sense of purpose can also give greater meaning to your life, giving you more quality to your greater quantity of days.

Bob Ross, the famous landscape painter from PBS, was always a great force of positivity. In addition to painting ‘happy little trees’ his lessons also included wisdom about believing in yourself and how that can help you to do anything in life.

In fact, having the ability to reframe bad experiences and trauma is what sets the purpose-driven person apart from someone who feels aimless. When you feel you can’t do anything, what’s the point of even living?

Stress and trauma can derail your purpose in life if you let them. Too much stress and trauma in your life can lead to a decrease in your ability to weather uncertainty, constant fear of failure and rejection, a derailing of your career and personal life, and eventually long-term effects of stress on your body, including sleep problems and depression.

Reframing negative experiences is a psychological tool that can help you to break out of the cycle of self-sabotage. Bad things happen and that’s not ok, but acknowledging that you were able to learn something from the experience, even if it was just that you can survive such experiences, can help you move past it. When you frame problems as challenges to overcome, it can help you realize there are other problems you are capable of overcoming.


Growing a career can be a great way to have a sense of purpose in life. If you are always just doing ‘jobs’ that lead nowhere, it can leave you feeling as though you are wasting your time. Working to hone your skills and apply them to something you can keep growing over several decades can ensure that you feel rewarded for your hard work. Just be careful not to throw everything you are into your career - this can be a recipe for disaster down the line when you retire or lose your job.

Balancing multiple things that give you purpose is the best policy. Having a family can give you a great sense of purpose but if that’s the only thing giving your life meaning you can find yourself in trouble later when your kids fly the nest. Building family, career, and personal life simultaneously can give your sense of purpose a much-needed balance so there’s something else to fall back on when one side of the triangle quits pulling its weight.

Lifelong learning can help you to excel in all areas of your life, and an astounding 87% of people enrolled in liberal arts courses greater satisfaction in their lives and had better motivation and social interactions. Educated parents have better parenting outcomes than non-educated parents, and those with positive educational experiences tend to nurture positive educational experiences in their children. You’ll also go further in your career if you keep up on continued education opportunities. And lifelong learning can even help you to enjoy your hobbies more fully.


Hobbies can improve your quality of life for the rest of your life, giving you something to occupy your mind and keep you connected to others as you grow older. Even walking, hiking, birdwatching, and joining a reading group can help you to keep your sense of purpose going strong.

Learn more about cultivating a sense of purpose in your life from the infographic below.

The Art and Science of Purpose



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