purpose and damon 1…

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Relaxing Music for the month: Healing Hands: Liquid Mind (12:01) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hdwGhA4l50

My morning (indoor) ride consisted of two Philosophers Notes by William Damon – “Noble Purpose: The Joy of Living a Meaningful Life” (https://www.optimize.me/pn/noble-purpose-william-damon) and “The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life” (https://www.optimize.me/pn/the-path-to-purpose-william-damon). As I was reading/watching the Notes, it made me think of my friends in the Maricopa Community College District (Arizona) – Marianne, Andrea, and Cathy – who created a Purpose Group for the ten schools in the District.

Before I share my thoughts from Notes from Noble Purpose, here’s MY definition of Purpose:

“A sustained, fully-engaged, intentional commitment to future-directed goals and activities that empower you to explore, cultivate, and express an ever-evolving best version of yourself, where you use your gifts in service to something bigger than yourself to make the world a better place.”

In short, it means making a commitment to become the best version of yourself in service to something bigger than yourself. I share this because William Damon’s work has been instrumental in developing my framework for Life Design Catalyst work.

Here are a few thoughts I want to share from Noble Purpose, starting with a definition:

“A noble purpose is all about finding something that you truly believe in, something so worth accomplishing that you dedicate yourself to it wholeheartedly, without qualm or self-interest.” “A noble purpose also may be found in the day-to-day fabric of ordinary existence. A mother caring for her child, a teacher instructing students, a doctor healing patients, a citizen campaigning for a candidate for the sake of improving society—all are pursuing noble purposes. So, too, are the legions of people who dedicate time, care, effort, and worldly goods to charity, to their friends and family, to their communities, and to God.”

He then shares these words of wisdom to cultivate purpose:

“How can you cultivate noble purpose in your own life? Where do you find it, and how can you be sure that this is the right way to spend your time and energy? You can start by impressing upon yourself how important it is to pursue a purpose. Then, follow these nine tips to cultivate purpose:

    1. “It is never too early to begin a life of purpose—and it is never too late.”
    2. “Although purpose is everywhere, it may be most readily found in places that are familiar to you.”
    3. “Look around for mentors—‘purpose exemplars’—people who represent models of noble behavior in service of good causes.”
    4. “When possible, get support from like-minded individuals.”
    5. “Be prepared for occasional disillusionment, and resist it mightily. Anyone who harbors a lofty goal inevitably will fall short of completely attaining it.”
    6. “Stay humble. When passion for a noble purpose turns into self-righteousness, we lose our capacity to learn from our mistakes or even to notice when we are making mistakes.”
    7. “Be sure that your purpose stays noble by paying attention not only to the ends that you seek but also to the means by which your pursue it.”
    8. “Celebrate your purpose, and be grateful for it.”
    9. “Pass on your purpose to others, especially to the young. Set up apprenticeships. Get young people engaged in the noble causes that inspire you.”

One way to pursue a noble purpose? Pursue a calling, described by Damon as:

“The idea of a ‘calling’ is an ancient notion with religious roots. Max Weber wrote that a calling is a ‘task set by God.’ All individuals have their own particular callings, reflecting three realities: (1) their own God-given abilities; (2) the world’s need for the services their callings provide; and (3) their enjoyment in serving society and God in their own special ways. Much like any noble purpose, a calling is both meaningful to the self and important to the world beyond the self.”

The Note ends with the connection between happiness and noble purpose, similar to what I shared in a previous posting about the difference between happiness and (moral) joy by David Brooks:

“Psychologists who study happiness repeatedly discover a puzzling paradox: the happiest people are those who pay little attention to the goal of becoming happy. Many of the things that we strive for in order to become happy seem to have little to do with it. Affluence, for example, is not strongly related to happiness except in cases of severe deprivation, where more assets are needed to gain basic levels of food, shelter, and family well-being. Status, glory, and other advantages that we avidly seek do not reliably make us any happier than we were before we acquired these treasures—any boosts in mood that they create usually prove temporary, wearing off soon after the initial glow of self-congratulation. What does matter is engaging in something that you find absorbing, challenging, and compelling. A noble purpose is a prime example of something that brings great personal satisfaction by bringing us outside ourselves into activities that capture our imaginations and promote the causes we believe in.”

I’ll share a few more thoughts about purpose in my next post, exploring his book, “A Path to Purpose.” I hope my friends in Arizona are listening!


 

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