The Foundation and Effect of Having Purpose in Life

Tim Arnold said to me in a recent conversation that ‘having purpose is foundational to mental health.’ It leads me to ask you today…

What do you think about the role of purpose in your life?
Do you think what Tim says is true?

Can you remember a time you questioned your purpose?
What was that like?

Tim is the program manager of the Ready to Work Program of the Bridge House. This project accepts a defined number of individuals going through homelessness and provides a dynamic, yearlong, community anchored work training program where they learn all the skills involved. So, Tim knows what it is like to work with persons who are challenged to know their own purpose in life, and even more, who are challenged to wonder where they even belong.

Even before making Boulder his home, Tim developed a program called, ‘Hiking towards Healing,’ serving those experiencing mental health challenges where he lived in New Jersey.

Our conversation was to prepare the groundwork for the upcoming Social Challenge Discussion on August 6th as part of the Summer Sundown Music and Talk series. By the way, this FREE/donation based livestream is open to you!

And the conversation was rich, and focused upon the upcoming catch 22 topic, ‘Mental Health, Social Stigma and Discrimination.’ Why catch 22?

Oftentimes when a fellow human being has challenges with mental health the social response is  non-acceptance and stigma, and being pushed away as an outcast can lead to challenges in mental health. Part of the outcome of this alienation is a deeper doubt for the affected person in relation to their purpose in life.

So where does our social responsibility lay?

I truly appreciated Tim’s answer to this inquiry.
He offered this distinction:


We are responsible to care.
We are not responsible to do something directly.


What both of us have found is that when a person has purpose, and the community around them supports that purpose (implicitly and/or explicitly) then health on all levels, including mental, is enhanced. And while programs like Ready to Work offer this kind of remedy to the problem there are ways we too can effectively care.

We can speak words affirming the value of those around us. We can question any beliefs we have that limit the acknowledgement of the value of each person. For instance, do we have an idea of what it means to be a valued citizen? Or do we have a measure of what it means to contribute in a valuable way to our world? And if we do, could we take a step into the possibility that every person has value, has purpose just by virtue of being alive.

This is a tricky conversation for it dismantles ways we find comfort in our own life!

The fruit of such inquiry, however, is a renewed experience of the essential value of ourselves regardless of what we do or what we do not do.

Join Tim Arnold for a live conversation at the Summer Sundown Music Series on August 6th.

The Longmont Symphony Brass Quintet will entertain us from 7-8pm and then our talk will happen from 8-8:30pm.

Register, or learn more about the series:

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