I’m usually pretty cynical when I hear people declare they’ve found their One True Purpose in Life™. I mean, can they really just have one purpose? For the rest of their lives?
To me, declaring you’d found your one true purpose smacked a little of desperation. Perhaps they’re making up for not achieving their childhood dream of being an astronaut…
Or maybe I was simply jealous. I’ve tried many times to calculate my own ideal career trajectory, looking for a super-motivating reason for being alive. But unfortunately these attempts were usually short-lived, they ended with me sliding back into a nihilistic miasma…
“What’s the point? Nothing means anything!”(Me, in the depths of depression)
However, the other day I heard someone on a podcast describe their life’s purpose. And for once it didn’t strike me as totally ridiculous or grandiose.
This lady claimed that her main goal in life is to look after her own mental health.
My first reaction was, “But isn’t that a little bit selfish?”
But after reflecting for a while, I realised it isn’t selfish at all. If your mental health is frequently in the toilet, you’re not going to be much use to anyone else! So having good mental health is a fundamental pre-requisite for helping others, especially if you regularly encounter challenges with depression, low self-worth, anxiety etc.
So, I’m “trying out” this new life purpose for myself. We’ll see how I get on.
When I have mornings where I’m struggling to convince myself it’s worth getting out of bed (let’s face it – that’s most mornings!), I can remind myself that my job on Earth is to improve my mental health. And luckily I already know lots of ways to do that based on my past experience.
Daily exercise is my number one technique for keeping the blues away. I don’t particularly enjoy exercise, but I like how it makes me feel afterwards. And at the moment I’ve been experimenting with super short but intense workouts to get the best bang for my buck. It seems to be working.
When my mental health is poor, I tend to be very inward-looking. But when my mental health is good, I’m much more willing & able to connect with others and (hopefully) bring something positive into their day.
So, looking after my own mental health isn’t selfish. It’s probably the best way I can make myself useful and develop a sense of meaning and purpose in life.