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What Role Does Purpose Play in Turbulent Times?

Every generation lays a unique claim to the old saying “May you live in interesting times.” Yet these days, it seems “uninteresting times” are much more rare. It seems we see threats everywhere we look. Many feel anxious, tired, and overburdened. And just as spring is about to bring us out of our homes and into the world, we find ourselves sequestered, shouted at by newsfeeds. Gatherings are canceled. Nothing feels real.

That’s one way to look at it.

While there’s no denying the fact that we are working to stem the effects of a pandemic, an economic earthquake, ecological decay, and a political dogfight all at once, there’s also no denying that humans are resilient, have been through worse, and come out stronger. And as the gears of uncertainty spin freely, eventually the teeth will click into place and pent-up energy will propel us forward.

“That’s great, but how are we going to get through today?” 

One lesson from purpose science: from the inside out. By taking this time to look inward and reflect on how we are when we are at our best, and taking concrete actions to make that happen. In fact both reflection on your authentic purpose and values, as well taking purposeful action (proper hand-washing, social distancing, mindfulness, avoiding over-watching news, and being there to support each other emotionally) has very real effects — in your brain, and in your lived experience. 

Strengthening our connections with the people we love and the causes and communities we care about. Remind yourself of your purpose and let it pull you towards your best selves.

And when we emerge from this temporary darkness — more purposeful and powerful than when we started — we can turn that curse on its head and say “yep, that sure was pretty interesting. What’s next?”

You’d think that this increase in spending on wellbeing incentives would translate to positive wellbeing trends across the country. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. In a 2017 study, 21 states showed declines in wellbeing scores, and none showed statistically significant improvements.

As it turns out, simply giving employees access to wellbeing solutions is not a great strategy for motivating employees to put their wellbeing first. Barriers, miscommunications, and flaws in implementation greatly reduce efficacy, and may even halt adoption altogether.

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