We explored the notion of purpose from the view point from Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies, Early Sciences, Modern Sciences and Philosophy in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from some of the Psychological viewpoints.
Although having been appointed to boards of two of the companies of John Keells Holdings, at the age of 27, after having been appointed Marketing Manager of that company at the age of 24, largely due to the gold medal I won at the final examination of the UK based Chartered Institute of Marketing examination, and many corporate successes, I had a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness in my life during my early thirties. The various solutions applied to deal with this emptiness were related to attempting to think and act positively after having attended the ‘Mastery of Self’ playshop under Omar Khan during that period. I also find many of the participants attending workshops I facilitate grappling with such emptiness.
Positive psychology – A science of positive subjective experience, positive individual traits, and positive institutions promises to improve quality of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when life is barren and meaningless – addresses this feeling of emptiness, described with the word ‘barren’. The exclusive focus on pathology that has dominated so much of our discipline results in a model of the human beings lacking the positive features that makes life worth living. Hope, wisdom, creativity, future mindedness, courage, spirituality, responsibility, and perseverance are ignored or explained as transformations of more authentic negative impulses (Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi, 2014, p.5).
We explored the notion of purpose from the perspective of Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Philosophies and early sciences in the last few blog posts in this series. Let’s now have a look at this notion from some of the modern scientific viewpoints.
Modern sciences have developed new theories, from the findings of the early sciences, about the evolution of life. An initial review of this literature does not provide specific answers regarding the purpose of life and the purposeful living of beings, specifically human beings. Therefore, this body of knowledge needs to be further analysed for deeper and wider understanding, which could lead to a theory regarding purposefulness (major theme in my doctoral inquiry). The discovery of Nuclein and Double Helix Structure of DNA by Crick, Watson and Wilkins (Olby, 1974) has helped deeper understanding of its role in the makeup of human beings, providing potential to understand the purpose of our lives.
Joseph tends to get angry when his wife Judy asks him too many questions? He notices this tendency and realizes that his response hurts Judy. But this thought does not come to his mind when he is angry. He feels this is not helpful for their relationship, which has been deteriorating gradually.
You may have faced similar situations with family, friends, colleagues or anyone else you have regular interactions or you may know others who are facing similar challenges. Have you ever wondered why it has been sometimes very difficult to change a habit?
While I have been using techniques of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Transactional Analysis (TA) to help myself and those who come for my guidance, to change habits, I was fascinated by the power and potential of Action Inquiry in achieving real and lasting change.
2016 is almost over and I hope you made good progress during the year. Some of us would say it was an awesome year, some would say it was an average year and some others would say it was not a good year! The best we can do is to use the learning from 2016 so that we can make 2017 a better one.
I am pleased to present a simple four-step process to help you prepare for a fruitful 2017.
Step 1: Let’s start by doing this simple reflective exercise to take the resources from 2016 for a better 2017. Answer the following question in writing or in an artful form such as a picture, poem, collage, structure etc.
- What were my biggest successes in 2016? What did I learn from it?
- What were my biggest failures in 2016? What did I learn from it?
- Who am I grateful for 2016? (Those who helped me and was tough on me)
Once the above is done, allow some time for the energy and learnings to settle in before starting the preparation for 2017.
My previous blog titled ‘why try to be a banana when you are a peach’ attempted to discuss the idea that we are unique and for me living purposefully is trying to discover if I am a Peach or a banana or something else and trying to live as one. I also feel that having a glimpse of what might be purpose would help make choices on how to live and we can get confirmation if those are congruent with purpose through bodily signals. I believe it is a life long search, and that living our life inquiring what our purpose might be, could help us find happiness… what ever that might mean to each of us.
In this blog post I would like to discuss if an exploration in to multiple intelligences could help us in the pursuit of finding purpose in our life. Howard Gardner introduces the concept of multiple intelligences and suggests that each one of us may have some predominant intelligence in us. The list of intelligences he suggests are; bodily physical, verbal/linguistic, mathematical/logical, visual/spatial, musical, inter-personal and intra-personal. The following description might be helpful in starting to think about our predominant intelligence.
I could be the most delectable, the most delicious, the most wondrous peach in the world, and I could offer it to everybody. But there are people who are allergic to peaches. Then they may want me to be a banana.” And so often we become a banana for other people who want peaches. What a messy fruit salad. Isn’t it all right to say to them, “I am so sorry I cannot be a banana? I would love to be a banana if I could for you, but I’m a peach.” And you know what? If you wait long enough, you’ll find a peach lover. And then you can live your life as a peach, and you don’t have to live your life as a banana. All the lost energy it takes to be a banana, when you’re a peach!
This is a part of a poem I love, written by the author of ‘Love’ Leo Buscaglia. This poem, which I first heard from my teacher and now my business partner, Omar Khan about 20 years ago, has had an amazing impact on my life and the choices I make. This has helped me to continue to search for my God-given gift by asking the questions; what do I love to do? What am I good at? What is important to me? These reflections have led me to find a sense of my ‘purpose’ and I continue to ask myself questions to inquire if that is my purpose. Such inquiry has also changed the questions and I ask and the third question above has now changed to; for what or who am I in service of?