Perimenopause and menopause signify a new chapter in a woman’s life. At this stage, many women simply decide to rewrite the entire book. Case in point: More than 60 percent of divorces are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s or 60s — the menopause years — according to a survey conducted by AARP Magazine.
With the change of life come obvious physical changes — hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain… the list goes on. Many menopausal women seek balance in their lives, often focusing on the spiritual as well as the physical. Their priorities often shift as they take this opportunity for self-reflection and a renewed focus. We may find a renewed sense of purpose.
We’re older and wiser. We have a lot to contribute to the community we live in!
Living with Purpose
In an article by the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, expert Richard Leider suggests two core practices for living with purpose: contemplation and activation. Contemplation refers to seeking answers to questions about who you are, how you should live, and where you belong. Activation, as the word implies, is living your truth.
Following are some methods you can use to achieve these goals:
- Reflection. Review the day’s events each evening for 5-10 minutes. Which experiences were life-giving? Which were life-draining?
- Meditation. A study by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain found that meditation increases one’s sense of life purpose.
- Journaling. Keeping a journal can be a helpful way to reflect and express yourself honestly. Allow yourself to write freely.
- Writing your life story. Reflect upon where you have been, the events that have shaped who you are today, and the future you imagine for yourself. What obstacles do you see ahead? How will you overcome them?
Having a Purpose
What’s your purpose? If you don’t know, following the steps below can help you uncover it, according to a Psychologytoday.com article by Dr. Brad Klontz.
- Examine what you value most. Is it family, faith, excellence, generosity, peace, connection to others, balance or something else?
- How do you want others to describe you/what you would want to be written in your obituary? What legacy do you want to leave?
- Jot down your own special purpose on a business card. You can tweak it later.
- Start each day and end each day by reciting your purpose. Carry that business card in your wallet or purse. Read it every so often to remain focused.
Trends with Benefits
Living a purposeful life not only helps those around you, it can benefit you — and your health — as well. Research from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago revealed that individuals with high purpose scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s than those with low scores; they were also less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor. In a study of 246 people who died at the center, autopsies found that many of those with high purpose scores also showed the distinctive markers of Alzheimer’s.
Purposeful people were less likely to develop disabilities. They also had a lower mortality rate than those with low purpose.
Another study, by Dr. Patrick Hill, Department of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, found that purpose in life promotes longevity. Both the Rush and the Carleton teams controlled for a host of other factors known to correlate with well-being —social relationships, chronic medical conditions and disability, work status — and reported that purpose in life, in and of itself, appears to improve and extend lives.
I’ve made my own personal commitment to living life more fully, with greater meaning. Now the ball’s in your court. How can you give your life more meaning, make your life more purposeful.
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!