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Life Matters

Finding purpose as we grow older

Two weeks ago, I published an article titled ‘Seed Purpose.’ I used the metaphor of a sunflower seed.  It takes 83 days for a sunflower seed to grow and flourish into a flower. Are we like the sunflower seed? Can we flourish as we age? Do seeds fall from our lives to regenerate and grow so that we find purpose as we grow older?

In order to give my life more purpose with my writing I set myself a task. It was my aim to spend 30 minutes across five days in a writing exercise. The 10 minutes either side of the half hour was my meditation or thinking time. What was the result?

I spent two days following my plan, writing two pieces. Two out of five. Is that a fail? Besides that, I wrote two short stories for a writing competition and listened to two amazing authors talk about their writing journey. While I could have written more and met my goal, I discovered something new. My writing flow improved if I read an article on the art of writing, before putting my thoughts on paper. I felt more confident. This same thing happened if I read a story that stimulated my imagination. You might like to try this if you love the art of writing as much as I do.

But writing is only one part of my story. I find purpose in other parts of my life. Another purpose for me is to live life well. That is, to have a healthy diet, exercise, and connect with others. But how social are we as we age and no longer going to work and mixing with others?

There is evidence that people who are social and connected with others are happier. They find more enjoyment in life. I saw the evidence first hand when I watched the Emmy awarded ABC program ‘Old people’s Home for 4 Year Old’s.’ All participants undertook some tests, before and afterwards. The result was that there were benefits for both the older people and the children. The children developed their emotional and social skills. The older people experienced more joy in their lives. But there were bigger gains for the older participants as they improved on the frailty scale. This proves the point that we can find joy and gain an increased sense of purpose in unexpected places. Finding purpose as we grow older matters.

person walking between green forest trees
Every tree was once a small seed. Find your seed, what you are passionate about, and let it grow and flourish.
Photo by Luis del Río on

But what if our seed, the one we thought would give us purpose falls on fallow ground? We then have the choice of planting another seed or giving up. But these are meaningless words if there is no motivation, no energy and joy in life. If you are an older person and suffer from depression, then your energy and joy for life is low. How can we break out of a depressive cycle and find joy? Find purpose in life? In what area do we want to grow? We can be like the sunflower seed. After a while, it breaks out of the soil with new growth. But it takes time.

If you are struggling with purpose as you age, what can you do about it? The first step is to talk to your doctor who will assess your support needs e.g., counselling. There is no shame in getting support. Professional support when struggling to flourish can help us find purpose as we age.

But what if there are few opportunities to thrive as we age? Where do we look to find purpose, to find our happy place? Is there a place where we can find a quiet sense of purpose? There may not be the razzmatazz we were looking for, but can we still be happy? This is something I will explore in my article next Friday. Until then, think on these uplifting quotes.

‘Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ Winston Churchill

‘I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives.’ Dalai Lama

For more information on the ABC Program, click here.

Photo of ocean by Hernan Pauccara on

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