Mortality salience often leads you
to ask questions about the meaning in your life.
In his book, The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People, Dan Buettner builds a case for well-being consisting of three strands: pleasure, purpose, and pride.
Let’s drill down on purpose.
Buettner says that purpose “has to do with living out your values and passions in the service of … doing what is worth doing.” (21)
David Chan, the Director of the Behavioral Sciences Institute and a Professor of Psychology, writes that “that people experience ‘mortality salience’ when they encounter events that expose the fragility of life. This refers to the heightened awareness that our death is inevitable and unpredictable… Mortality salience causes anxiety and stress. But it is not necessarily negative. One positive impact is that it often leads you to ask questions about the meaning in your life.”
Chan offers five components for living a life with meaning:
- Your life reflects your desires. Your actions match your passions. Your work has meaning. It resonates and touches your core.
- You speak and live truth to self. Rather than follow someone else’s script, you write your own. You live an authentic life.
- You make a difference in others’ lives. You move from you-centric to people-centric. As one artist explained it, move from “I exist” to “they exist.”
- You join and share interests, values, beliefs, and a common cause. You belong.
Yes, we still confront and carry out those tasks that do not necessarily bring us joy. As cliché as it sounds, that’s life. And, when we make consistent and considered efforts to live a meaningful life—the Five Cs above—we develop our purpose. Chan found that
When we realize that life is short and fragile but we have a strong sense of our meaning in life, our fear of death and anxiety will be replaced with aspirations and inspirations that translate into positive attitudes and actions.
Video recommendation for the week:
Listen to Dan Buettner speak about where you can find the Blue Zones and “9 Secrets for Happiness.”
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
For information about and to order my book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A number of colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.
Pearson Education publishes my student textbooks for life success—Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition).
(c) 2018. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.