Ground Habits in Purpose

Education, January 24, 2021

Daily habits require purpose for meaningful direction

If habits are grounded in purpose you will build a consistent practice. Habits intertwined with purpose leads to a lifestyle that will bring fulfillment. Too many chase success and happiness that is defined by society without understanding that true success is living with purpose as a guide cultivates intrinsic joy, leading to lasting fulfillment.

In Sanskrit the term Dharma is roughly translated as your purpose or calling. In Okinawian culture their word Ikigai describes 'the reason to get out of bed in the morning' or 'reason for being'. Dan Buettner in his work with the Blue Zones (5 cultures around the world that live the longest, and are the healthiest and happiest) talks about Ikigai as the convergence of four primary elements - what you love (passion), what the world needs (mission), what you are good at (vocation), and what you can get paid for (vocation). When our daily habits are aligned with this overarching way to exist and grow, then we not only remove decision fatigue (making the right choice easier), we create more traction for daily actions creating an authentic lifestyle. Habits not rooted in purpose will turn our to be yet another failed diet, new years resolution, or 8 week fitness challenge. Stop playing around with hacks and cement a lifestyle that you were destined to live with habits. Wake up to your potential with discovery of purpose. 

Jay Shetty (author of Think like a Monk) discusses dharma (purpose) and makes it practical for our lives today. He uses the combination of varna (roughly a mix of skills and passion) and seva (having an understanding of what the world needs or how to contribute to something bigger than yourself). When you can combine your natural talents, and developed skills with what your community/world requires this can become your purpose. When you spend time and energy working daily on your craft towards serving something bigger than yourself this is 'living with purpose' and creates a fulfilled life - this is SUCCESS. To make this happen you have to shut out what our mainstream society is trying to sell. This influence distracts our attention and daily habits from working on our individual mission to make the world better. Having habits guided by purpose will sometimes run against the tide of comfortable consumption that keeps our economic engine lurching forward. 

Pablo Piccasso stated "the meaning of life is to find your gift - the purpose of life is to give it away". One of my favourite spiritual leaders Francis of Assissi (check out my article here ) talked about 'Preaching the Gospel* at all times. When necessary use words.' Authenticiy is being the message, living your purpose with action first, making your words more impactful.   The Bhagavad Gita has a verse that says 'Whatever action is performed by a great man (or women), common people follow in their footsteps, and whatever standards they set by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.'  We all have a unique nature that determines where we spark up, and thrive. Too many of us are living for the weekend or holiday. Working to pay bills and service debt. Buying stuff to make us happy, without stopping, and stepping back to look at the big purpose picture. Too many are simply surviving while their spark is being snuffed out from living meshed within a society that insists on conformity, and comfort.  Real growth happens in discomfort and failure. I talk to my clients about seeking failure, and putting stimulating discomfort in daily lives to 'spark up' and cultivate an environment for growth. 

I firmly believe most people are not living lives of purpose as it's far easier to go along with the masses, blend in rather than stand out, seek comfort, and short term pleasure rather than long term growth. Waking up to your calling is one of the most counter cultural, and exciting times in anyone's life and it tends to happen after a stressful event in peoples lives. After traumatic life changing events (this could be a health scare, death of a loved one, losing a job) people either put there heads in the sand and carry on surviving or transform with intent and action towards true purpose (check out my article on cultivating a lifestyle ) 

So ask yourself these 4 questions to help shift your thoughts and action towards purpose or Ikigai
  • What sparks you up?
  • What are you good at that would also benefit the wider community or our planet?
  • What is a craft that you want to work on? 
  • How can this combination create a revenue stream?

If you are having difficulty with a grand overarching purpose, don't fret - start where you are right now and work on daily habits that help cultivate the environment for growth. I often talk about the bookend habits. How you start and finish your day can really start to give order to the hours in-between (here is my article on bookend habits )

The Blue Zone cultures have life long habits that create joy and purpose. The 10 rules of 'Ikigai' are
  • Stay active and don't retire 
  • Only eat till you are 80% full
  • Surround yourself with good friends that motivate and inspire
  • Stay fit for purpose with daily fitness work
  • Smile, be grateful, and acknowledge those around you
  • Connect and care for our natural world
  • Live in the moment, be present.
  • Downshift, meditate, pray, do some yoga
  • Strive for purpose, be of service to something greater than yourself. 
  • Be more, make do with less, and put in a little discomfort in your daily routine. 

James Clear in his book 'Atomic Habits' talks about our habits as a practical vote for who we want to become. Making conscious decisions about how we spend our time will nudge us towards habits that move us towards purpose. Having a reason to get out of bed will overcome the societal malaise that is becoming more apparent. Working to pay off debt to buy stuff and just living for weekends and holidays is not healthy or sustainable. Tap into your purpose with expansive daily habits now. Align habits with a purpose driven lifestyle for joy, and fulfillment. 

*In Roman and Greek times a gospel was news of some event that changed things in a meaningful way. It was an announcement of something that has been done that changes your life forever. 



Dirty God - Jesus in the Trenches by Johnnie Moore (2013)

Think like a Monk by Jay Shetty (2020)

What doesn't kill us - how freezing water, extreme altitude, and environmental conditioning will renew our lost evolutionary strength by Scott Carney (2017)

The Blue Zones - 9 lessons for living longer from the people who've lived the longest by Dan Buettner (2008) 


My book 'Holistic Human - Expansive Wellness Habits for thriving humans on a healthy planet' is available through my site for NZ and Australia