2021 isn’t turning out to be the calm, awesome year I’d hoped for. Can we start over?

Mental Health

A: Sigh. From riots to record pandemic death tolls, anxieties are running high … and our resolutions have stalled out already.

Research shows that taking a step back to ask what matters most (and why) can help shore up well-being, even in tumultuous times. Read more for a purpose-finding playbook.

The good news is living purposefully will make us happy as individuals… and benefit others, too. Embracing a purpose mindset means using your gifts, in keeping with your values, to make a positive impact on the world around you.

Research finds that having a strong sense of purpose is correlated with improved health, greater happiness, more resilience, better relationships and a greater sense of agency, that awesome feeling that you can actually get things done.

Want to restart 2021 today with a purpose mindset? Consider these 5 evidence-based questions:

➡️ What are my core values that I’d like to take center stage this year?
➡️ What are my top gifts that I want to use this year?
➡️ Who are the individuals or groups I’d like to positively impact this year?
➡️ What are the lessons I learned in 2020 that I’d like to take into 2021?
➡️ What are three purpose-based commitments I can make for the year ahead?

Purpose is prosocial, meaning it’s about getting involved and helping others. And that’s important right now. Historically, research shows that when we lack trust in government and feel the world is out of control people focus more on self-improvement and less on social activism.

That’s bad for two big reasons: First, when we internalize societal problems as individual shortcomings, we are both less like to make changes in the world around us and less likely to get the personal change we hope to see. Second, being solipsistic (me-focused) doesn’t make happy in the long-run. Research shows that prosocial behavior is, in fact, the secret to lasting happiness.

Purpose is something you do. It’s that perfect fizzy mix of individual action and a broader social vision. Remember last week’s post about anchors, sails and rudders? (You can find a link to it below) Now is the time to strengthen our rudder – our big-picture purpose – and get ourselves pointed in the right direction.

Some big feelings might come up if you allow them, and that’s OK. Name them, accept them, integrate them. This is all part of the process of reflection. Then, put all your answers together in a MadLibs-style 2021 Purpose Statement (link below). Post it in your office, on your bathroom mirror, on your desktop or right here in the comments.

Anxieties can make us turn inward and tell ourselves we’ve failed before the first week of the year was over. Nope. You’re not alone. And we can move forward, on purpose, together.

Dr. Whelan and The Nerdy Girls

#purpose #happiness #dearpandemic


Purpose and health research: Check out an excellent book called Life on Purpose (2019) by Prof. Vic Strecher

Alienation and anomie lead to increases in self-improvement: General Social Survey in Self-Help and Self-Control, 2004

Anchors, sails and rudders DP post

Dr. Whelan’s 2021 Purpose Statement

Link to original FB post