It’s important to know your purpose. This is true on a large scale of course, but I acknowledge that might be slightly too big a topic to cover right here and now. I mean it in a more temporal and specific kind of way which I was reminded of earlier this week. On her podcast, Happier, Gretchen Rubin and her sister Liz Craft discuss ways to live a happier, healthier, and more productive life. One of the things that I really appreciate about the podcast and Rubin’s approach in general, is that she is very good at making the esoteric, transcendental, or very aspirational more practical and tangible. In this particular episode, they tackled the worthwhile aspiration of being more present and savoring by encouraging listeners to “know your purpose” in a given situation.
As an illustration, Rubin talks about her experiences of returning to Yale where she attended both undergraduate and law school. And she describes a situation and feeling that I am all too familiar with. She says every time she visits, she tries to cram as much into the experience as possible – going to meet up with this person, that person, see the new library, walk the halls, visit old haunts, etc. But on this last trip back she decided in advance this time – her priority, or her purpose, was only to meet up and spend time with two friends in particular. She made up her mind that anything which she did or didn’t do would be secondary to that aim and consequently, she was much more able to enjoy the time that she had with those friends. In identifying your purpose, you gain clarity and limit the scope of what you’re trying to accomplish. When you do that, you’re not frazzled rushing form one event to the next or juggling between competing priorities, but you’re also better able to savor “your purpose.” And the same concept can be applied to not only school reunions or vacations, but also whatever you need to accomplish in a given day or even hour. When you stop for just a moment to briefly consider your objectives and know your purpose, you can increase more than just your effectiveness, but also your level of enjoyment of a particular event or activity. When you don’t attempt to do everything or take on too much, you can really improve the quality of time that you are spending on any one thing.
Moving fast and doing ALL.THE.THINGS appeals and comes more naturally to me than taking time to slow down and savor. I have also always struggled with prioritization and clarity; to me everything seems important if not also urgent. I do know that learning to be more present is something which will serve me well, but for a Type A, on-the-go person, it can feel a bit lofty, idealistic, or unattainable, so this this take on knowing my purpose felt like a tangible idea which really resonated and felt somewhat liberating. If I aspire to know my purpose for a specific occasion or point in time, it’s not that I have to say X is not important or valuable, but that in this particular case, for this visit, or for today – my purpose is Y. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, or do everything I could, without considering if I should, I have often felt drained, stressed, or that I in some other way had “less” an experience.” When I am not clear on my goals and constantly head from one thing to the next, it often detracts from whatever I am doing now. If you know your purpose, you can be more present, be where you are, with you are with, and give it your full attention – focusing on what matters.
You might be thinking that this all sounds pretty obvious, but I would argue that “there is nothing new under the sun” and that’s rare that we come across an entirely novel idea. For me this was a more manageable, bite-sized way of considering competing priorities or a potentially hectic calendar. It’ll be an interesting challenge, but helpful admonition, for me to tackle. If there’s one thing I have learned through the past year in particular working on my Happiness Project, it’s that finding ways to spend more time on what matters is key. Things don’t always have to be grandiose or elaborate. They don’t always need to be complicated or exhausting. Some things, like this simple, summery Whole30 Chicken Strawberry Walnut Salad are good just as they are. In this one, each ingredient knows its purpose and they all work together oh-so-well for an experience that’s worth savoring.
- Chicken Breast 4 each
- Mixed Greens 8 cups (200 g)
- Strawberries 12 each
- Cucumber 1 each
- Red Onion .5 each
- Chopped Walnuts .5 cup (65 g)
- Whole30 "Honey" Mustard Dressing - RECIPE HERE
- Prepare the Whole30 “honey” mustard vinaigrette per directions and place half the recipe in a mixing bowl with the chicken, tossing well to coat. Set the other half of the batch aside.
- Grill the chicken until done or bake in the oven on tray at 200 C for approximately 15 – 20 minutes.
- While the chicken cooks, thinly slice the strawberries and onions and dice the cucumber.
- Pile the mixed greens on four plates (or containers) and top with strawberries, onion, cucumber, and walnuts. Once the chicken is done, thinly slice it and divide it among the salads.
- If eating immediately, drizzle the remaining dressing over the salads. If saving for later, keep the dressing separate until ready to serve. Alternatively, you can layer this salad in a mason jar in the following order: Dressing, strawberries, cucumber, onions, chicken, walnuts, and mixed greens.
- The salad should be kept covered and refrigerated and can last up to a week or as long as the strawberries stay fresh. If prepping for several days in advance, you could also leave them whole and slice when ready to eat.