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Purposive – Optimism – Values

Man Climbing an IcebergWithout purpose, life would have no meaning. Purposiveness can be defined as “finding meaning in life.” Without a sense of purpose and meaning, we would have little optimism or hope for our future.

Victor Frankl wrote in “Man’s Search for Meaning that man’s search for meaning “is the primary motivation in his life.”

In his book, “Authentic Happiness”, Martin Seligman writes,

Optimism and hope cause better resistance to depression when bad events strike, better performance at work, particularly in challenging jobs, and better physical health.” Optimism doesn’t just happen – it is learned.

The science of Psychoneuroimmunology teaches us there is an interaction between the brain, endocrine system and immune system and to this degree belief becomes biology.

Optimism is a biological phenomenon that creates a definite physiological response within an individual. It reduces anxiety and stress and its accompanying physical symptoms.

Other studies reveal that when optimism was used as a prime coping strategy, people were less anxious and had fewer physical symptoms. Witmer & Rich (1983).

So how do we develop the skill of optimism and purpose for our lives?

In studies by Maslow, we learn that having a definite philosophy of life and religion are as important as sunlight, calcium or love is to a person. We cannot live and survive without strong ethical and defined moral standards.

Valuelessness is the ultimate disease of our time. It leads to vague illnesses: apathy, alienation, hopelessness, and cynicism which lead to psychological, physical and social illnesses.

Having a meaningful purpose in life helps us develop optimism. Understanding the value of our beliefs will enable us to develop a moral compass to guide our behavior. Morality guides behavior that can maintain our well-being while reaching out to others with respect and compassion. Religious beliefs and optimism go hand in hand.

Dr. Sydney Sharman, author of “Psychiatry, the Ten Commandments and You” writes:

Almost half of all patients consult their doctors because of non-organic disease, and almost all of them really do need to consult them or someone! If there were ten times as many qualified and experienced psychiatrists as there are at present, there would not be enough to cope properly with the volume of work.”

The Ten Commandments are just as relevant to man today as they were when first set down on tablets of stone; and they offer the basis for the prevention of and cure for many of man’s neuroses. His thesis was that the Commandments are fundamental laws of life, not just a code produced by an ancient religious and political leader.

So what do you believe in?  What creates purpose and meaning for your life?  Where have you placed God in the values and principles you choose to live by? Are the tenants of faith producing the optimism and hope that drives both meaning and purpose for your life?

 Marlene Anderson


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