Choosing to Live With Purpose

February 20, 2016 Updated: February 25, 2016

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, many who make them have fallen off the wagon by February. I made one resolution this year—to increasingly live my life with purpose—and it’s one that I can sustain, because it allows for constant improvement.

I say “increasingly” because as the days, weeks, and months go on, I’m choosing to become more aware of how many of my activities and responses are by habit, knee-jerk reactions, or following the dictates of society. As this awareness grows, I can consciously make the switch to choosing the responses and actions that will improve my life—and the world around me.

What does it mean to “live with purpose”? It means waking up every morning and choosing to live in a way that leads to fulfilling your ultimate goals in life.

Of course, knowing your ultimate goals can be a challenge. On a superficial level, people might say they want to be rich, get married, be happy, be famous, win a Nobel Prize, etc. But there are lots of rich and famous people, even successful people, who feel empty inside.

As new beneficial habits become routine and easier, you can look at other areas in your life that can be improved upon.

Some on the path to pure happiness distract themselves with socializing, entertainment, and materialism, or escapism with addictions to alcohol, drugs, shopping, sex, gaming, or sheer busyness. True happiness and contentment happen when you live with passion, work to make this world a better place, and feel supported, appreciated, and loved along the way.

Does living with purpose mean you need a tiger mom’s rigidity to calculate every single waking moment to maximize every opportunity to better yourself? No. It is about slowing down a bit to smell the flowers, being aware of yourself and others, seeing different perspectives, and deciding the best possible course of action.

Another name for “living with purpose” is “mindfulness.” This is a skill that we can and do develop over time to some degree or other, and involves avoiding running on auto-pilot.

What Do You Really Want in Life?

Living with purpose means taking inventory on what you really want in life. Do you want to be healthier to have energy to do what you want, to be a good role model to your kids, and to feel good about yourself? Then look at what in your routine needs to change and make room for what you want. When you feel resistance, have a conversation between you and your old “self” (which resists change) and your new “self” (which wants more for you), and cheer for your new self.

Be kind to yourself if you slip up and give in to the old “self” and see if each week you can be better than the last as opposed to giving up after the first “fail.” As new beneficial habits become routine and easier, you can look at other areas in your life that can be improved upon.

This can include making connections (friend and family) a higher priority, being more thoughtful about how you spend your money (choose to spend on things or services that will improve your life on a long-term basis, rather than on fleeting pleasures), and using your time wisely (as opposed to procrastinating).

To help yourself live the life you want, it’s best to reduce your exposure to temptations, such as eating too much sugary food, watching too much TV, or buying things you don’t really need.

Another approach to helping you transition to the life you want is to surround yourself with encouragement. This can include spending time with people who share the same values you appreciate and less time with those who would undermine your efforts. You can also surround yourself with images of what you want in life. Some people have positive affirmations they see or say, vision boards of what they want in life, or put up more pictures of the people who matter in their life.

You can also choose to take a break from materialism, consumerism, and social norms. This can be by taking time to pray or meditate, going for a nature walk, hiking or camping, gardening, skipping stones at a lake, fishing, journaling or doing art of some kind. Not artistic? Try colouring in a colouring book.

A Healthy Nervous System

Through my work as a chiropractor, I’ve seen that physical, mental, and emotional, traumas and repeated stresses can get embedded in the body, mind, and spirit. They can overwhelm the nervous system, and so parts can shut down as a blown fuse to stop an electrical overload. The result is that fewer nerves are available to take action and you develop reactive patterns. 

In real-life terms, pain and fear result in survival and protection instincts kicking in so strongly that your rational mind takes a back seat when it comes to decision-making. Your life choices become more limited as you stick to “safe” default patterns—even if they’re not beneficial for healing, growth, thriving, or happiness. 

Chiropractic care over time can help re-establish proper nerve flow so you can feel better, safer, and freer to consider new choices in how you live your life. Healthy, purposeful choices become part of your lifestyle with chiropractic care, because the change process is supported, encouraged, and aided along the way. Our office aims to be a sanctuary where purposeful living is espoused and shared.

According to a First Nations parable, we each have two wolves in us. One is cowardly, lazy, angry, vindictive, deceitful, cruel, and destructive. The other is brave, compassionate, helpful, kind, honest, hardworking, and loving. Which is the stronger wolf in a person? The wolf you feed.  

Mindfulness and living with purpose is about choosing which wolf you’re feeding to be the kind of person you want to be.

Dr. Sabrina Chen-See is a pediatric and family wellness chiropractor based in Vancouver. She is a firm believer in making positive contributions to society, and regularly volunteers her time and chiropractic skills for community and charitable events. Website:

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.