I was reading the work of Richie Davidson the neuroscientist. I like reading his studies because he's been to Harvard, he has met with the Dalai Lama, he has been in Time Magazine as one of the top 100 people who are transforming our world, he studies emotion circuits in the brain and because he studies resilience.
Resilience!!! The ability to bounce back from adversity!
In his studies, he was looking for ways to cultivate resilience. His work involved looking at the results of people who were over the age of 80, people who survived hurricanes, people who were able to keep Alzheimers away and people who were able to bounce back. In all those studies, what was most striking is that the big commonality was that people who are resilient have a life purpose.
The big conclusion at the end of the day is that a life purpose acts as a buffer between you and the slings and arrows of life. It's like a bullet proof vest that helps to get you through tough times.
I remember when I didn't have a life purpose. Not one of any real substance anyways. My life then was me scrambling around while being bounced from one event to another. Once I had a life purpose, and it's really not that big a deal, but once I had one, it was like the anxiety of life crumbled away.
I was talking to a friend of mine that I hadn't seen in about a decade. He recently had a couple kids. I asked him how things were different. He said he felt calm as if the panic of life had vanished because he was able to focus his energies on raising his children instead of playing snooker and running with the wolves. I guess he had a purpose in life.
I don't have kids. And that's on purpose. Maybe I will change my mind one day, but I'm really not into changing diapers or waking up to crying. So what is my purpose? My purpose is to learn and to teach. That stuff makes me feel good and it keeps me up at night. I don't know how many years I've been up reading or making a video or tweaking a book, but I know it's in the thousands of hours. That stuff makes me feel good even when I don't feel good. It's like I imagine time is ticking by me if I'm not learning something for the purpose of making life easier for myself and others. Knowing that I'll probably live longer and be able to bounce back from life challenges is an added bonus.
I feel a lot better about my life overall when I have this overarching idea that keeps me moving forward.
The thing with a life purpose is sort of like a gun. It's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
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This book is chopped up into three parts and the first two parts of it really are the foundation of it because it frames the importance and the value of the meditations that follow in part three.
If I were to sum up this first chapter in a few words it would be:
Thoughts + Feelings = test-tube results
Let’s unpack this …
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