Part 2: Legacy and Finding your Purpose in Life

“It is essential to follow your commitments 100% of the time—Do you have a clear and meaningful life compass.”  HBR May 22, 2012 Clay Christianson

While vision and purpose in living a meaningful and constructive life are critical, they are rare. This is due to the fact that most individuals lead a frenetic and short-term life focused on activities, daily pressures, and attempts at immediate gratification. Many of us loss site of the “big picture” because life can be so tenuous and fragile. Research in Neurology ( brain), Social Psychology and Adult Development fields can facilitate our understanding of these life strategies. To summarize, research from the marshmallow studies on immediate gratification, brain scans, and emotional, intellectual, perceptual and development studies of adults suggest that effective problem solving, decision-making, personal development, effective communication and influence are not a random or prescriptive like a “bell-shaped curve” based on abilities or intelligence factors, but to large extent a function of emotional intelligence, openness to life-long learning, and one’s perceptual maps and world view.

Transformation occurs when existing maps, solutions, assumed truths and past decisions are exposed as unrealistic, and this new insight allows one to view the world from a more appropriate and empowering perspective. Here is what two prominent psychologist have said about development and personal change.

“The path of personal transformation is primarily a process of becoming aware of, facing up to and taking responsibility for one’s thoughts, feelings and actions, and then expanding this self-realization by communicating with others, retaining integrity whatever the response, and further enhancing the quality of communication with ever-increasing empathy and understanding. Through understanding others better, we can recognize their essential goodwill, however misguided it might have become, and begin to recognize the spirituality of humankind. ”

Abraham Maslow, Ph.D.

Rollo May, a distinguished psychologist,  describes the anxiety caused by a threat to some value which the individual holds essential to his development and existence as the self that he knows. He also quotes Kierkegaard: “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” May’s approach is existential: he conceives the self as a dynamic entity, alive with potentiality. His approach is also holistic, seeking to understand the whole reality and essence of a person’s being. Man is thought of as being and becoming, as a dynamic process, as a complex organism in relation to the universe. However, if an insight or perception is too hard at the moment, if it causes too much anxiety and threatens established beliefs – of self and/or of others – then it may be repressed, and cause fixation of development and afterwards be hidden by defenses.

What secrets or insights can you offer for creating a personal vision and purpose?

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