Like you, I’ve been busy with holiday preparations, celebrations and visits. Easter and Passover are such important holidays and a season every bit as special as Christmas and Hanukkah are. And now I’m experiencing re-entry pain. I’ll get caught back up eventually, I know.
I read a few wonderful magazines. Yes, the real thing. Printed on paper, tangible and foldable and oh, so enjoyable for me. And, in one I read a delightful short article entitled: “Having a Higher Purpose.”
Scientists analyzed 10 major studies that involved more than 136,000 participants. This group was primarily made up of Japanese and Americans. They found a lower mortality rate in the people who had a high sense of purpose. Hmm.
That group also had lower risk for cardiovascular issues over the seven years they were followed. In the US, “higher purpose” meant usefulness to others in most cases, though some never defined it in any more detail than “living a meaningful life”.
And the Japanese studies assessed ikigai which translates pretty much to “a life worth living.” I attended an international psychology convention in Toronto last year and met some of the young professionals who are doing studies regarding the impact of ikigai or lack of ikigai on their generation. Their early findings were very impressive and powerful. Those in the study who did not embrace ikigai personally, developed very poor eating and sleeping habits and experienced health issues, including depression. Those who lived ikigai were much more inclined to take good care of their health, had few medical issues, enjoyed satisfaction with school and career and in general expressed optimism with their future. I was delighted to hear they were going to continue their studies in this arena.
So, what in the world does any of this have to do with writing? Writers often have this “higher purpose” I think. Fiction writers may say, “I just want to entertain my readers” but to bring a reader joy, satisfaction, or even an escape is a terrific purpose. I know a very successful and longtime author who writes great sweet romances. The reader who touched her heart most over the years was one who wrote to share that one of her books got that reader through a horrible ordeal. We want to make a difference. All of us want our words, our worlds, our characters to make a difference to someone other than ourselves.
I encourage you, mighty writer, regardless of what you are writing and for whom, to continue on with your higher purpose. To remember that though you are not the source of wisdom, peace, joy, patience, hope or sorrow, your words are perhaps the catalyst for those things to be realized by your readers. I can remember as a child when my books felt like my only friends. And I regard them as friends still today. I open them with reverence, read them with great zeal and often send a note of appreciation to the author.
Our words can tear down or lift up. The choice is ours every time we pick up a pen or turn on our computer. Always remember that words count: write on, write well, write often! Nancy Q.