Remember the Peanuts comic strip? It ran in 2600 newspapers, in 75 countries, for 50 years. In it, Charles M. Schulz used his characters to mirror the universal human experience. In my personal favourite, Schulz has Charlie Brown and Snoopy sitting on the end of a dock taking in the summer sunset. Charlie Brown breaks the silence, “Someday,” he says, “we will all die, Snoopy.” There’s an implied pause. “True,” Snoopy replies, “but
on all the other days, we will not.”
This column is about all the other days and how you intend to spend them.
Dan Buettner, National Geographic explorer, travelled the world in search of the planet’s longest-lived people. He identified areas with exceptionally high numbers of centenarians living healthy, fruitful and meaningful lives. With a team of scientists, Buettner set out to learn how people in what he coined “Blue Zones” lived.
Amongst other things, Buettner’s team found that a strong sense of purpose added approximately 7 years to a human lifespan.
As we age though, it seems as if the world is reluctant to impose upon us, but that is exactly what we need. Go ahead, impose upon us! Make us think. Hand us the difficult jobs. Challenge our brains, and above all, give us purpose!
Exercise #2: Finding Your Purpose
Do this exercise over several days. Set aside 20 to 30 quiet minutes per session. Record your findings in a notebook. Even if you are not consciously aware of it, your brain will be contemplating the results.
Step 1: Create a numbered list of 20 things you would change in the world if you had the power to do so.
Step 2: Review your list and edit freely.
Step 3: Do a reality check by circling the number beside each change upon which you might be able to exert
even a tiny influence.
Step 4: Perform an emotional litmus test. Take time to think about each circled item one at a time noting exactly how the muscles of your face respond when you imagine the situation you wish to change. Facial muscles trigger your emotions and sense of empathy, allowing you to gauge your subconscious level of commitment to an issue.
Step 5: Choose the 3 items which had the greatest emotional impact. Perhaps your vision included a specific place where you are needed, if not the link below will take you to a list of possibilities to explore.
Step 6: Don’t wait for life to come to you. Jump in and create a purpose for yourself by volunteering, starting a business, campaigning for a belief, or simply helping a neighbour. Every minute counts for others as much as it does for you.
How do you intend to spend all the other days? It turns out that a strong sense of purpose not only adds life to your years, but statistically up to 7 years to your life as well.