Searching For Purpose and Pleasure

To be truly happy, you need to feel both pleasure and purpose…..and you may require each to different degrees at different times. But you do need to feel both. I call this the pleasure-purpose principle–the PPP. Paul Dolan, author of Happiness by Design

Hedonism is the pursuit of happiness via sensory pleasure and comforts. Eudaemonism is the pursuit of happiness through efforts to live a virtuous life and become a better person. There’s evidence to show that living well means balancing these two aims.

If we choose one to the exclusion of the other, we can end up feeling like we’re missing out which may cause anxiety, depression, or chronic disease. One way to obtain balance is to notice when experiences provide a sense of both pleasure and purpose then create more of these moments in our lives. The little girls below seem to have found the balance. Can you?

Affirmation: I have both pleasure and purpose in my life.

Coaching questions: Can you name a time when you experienced both pleasure and purpose? What helps you keep both pleasure and purpose active in your life? What gives you pleasure? What gives you a sense of purpose?


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash


What’s Your Purpose?

There continues to be a growing body of research to support the impact of purpose on mental and physical health and how it can lead to longer life expectancy. Blue Zones newsletter

Dr. Robert Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging, estimated that an ability to define your life meaning adds to your life expectancy. His study found that individuals who had something to get up for in the morning that made a difference to them, lived longer and were sharper than those who did not.

My friend and I recently discussed this issue and drew the same conclusion. We also concluded that, as we age, we frequently need to overcome challenges, either mental or physical, to do that which brings meaning to our life. Sometimes our goals have to change with our abilities. Quilting might take the place of rigorous gardening for instance. As I consider this issue, I’m reminded of Helen Keller and Stephen Hawking. Physical disability need never be a factor as we define and carry out a meaningful life purpose.

Affirmation: I have purpose in my life.

Coaching questions: How do you define your purpose? What gets you up everyday (especially if you’re retired)? If you feel lost, how will you discover renewed purpose in your life? 


Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

Four Keys to Greater Happiness

The happiest people in the world have a few characteristics in common: they create strong social networks, have a sense of purpose, are usually generous and have faith. The Blue Zones newsletter

There are two Blue Zones books and studies. One is about the longest-lived people in the world, the other is a study of the happiest. The formula discovered in their extensive research on happy people the world over seems simple…have friends, purpose, a generous spirit, and faith. As we search for happiness in more money to buy more stuff or have more experiences or greater leisure, we may be missing the point. 

We don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Whatever our economic background, age, or circumstance, we can embrace the principles proven to bring us greater happiness. 

Affirmation: I know how to create happiness in my life.

Coaching questions: Do you have friends, purpose, a generous spirit and faith? What element needs to be stronger for you to have greater happiness in your life?

IMG_3986I’m in a happy place with friends.

Living With Purpose

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd. Rumi, 13th century poet, scholar, theologian

People sometimes ask how I can stay positive while immersing myself in mother loss for hours a day. The same might be asked of an oncologist or mortician. Yesterday I asked myself the same question after absorbing several particularly difficult life stories in recent days. I checked in and realized that I felt fine because I know that the purpose behind my interviews and research…writing a book that will make a difference in people’s lives…keeps me traveling in the positive lane. Generally it is also cathartic and positive for daughters who are willing to share and relive their heartbreaking stories because they are confident that their resilience will be an inspiration to others.

Purpose is everything. It gets us up in the morning, keeps us going to the gym, watering our gardens, loving our families. Knowing their life can still have purpose keeps prisoners of war alive, the paralyzed engaged, caregivers still caring.

Affirmation: I have purpose.

Coaching questions: What is your purpose? What difference does it make? How has your purpose changed over time?