Meaning and Purpose and the Motivation to Be Well

Can a well-developed sense of meaning and purpose motivate us to be well?

“Wellness is the experience of living life with high levels of awareness, conscious choice, self-acceptance, interconnectedness, love, meaning and purpose.” Michael Arloski (Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2007).

Meaning and purpose are included in most definitions and models of wellness, yet how does this philosophical concept translate into behavioral change, or does it? The primary value of meaning and purpose in wellness is motivation. Can a better-developed sense of meaning and purpose in one’s life be a motivator to live that life well? Can it enable that person to be more successful at lifestyle improvement?

“A life without purpose is an early death.” Goethe

Many great sages have shown us how life with little meaning holds little value, little joy and often less longevity. Victor Frankel’s classic book Man’s Search For Meaning showed us this vividly. When a sense of meaning and purpose is lacking, we just put one foot in front of the other, make a living one way or the other and feel like we are just existing. It sounds depressing and it is. Life coach, Kevin Cashman (Leadership From The Inside Out, 2000), (  holds that purpose is how we express ourselves to add value to the world, it is “spirit seeking expression.” It is about expressing our gifts, our true uniqueness actualized. For the person seeking to improve their lifestyle and/or affect the course of a chronic illness in a positive way, their belief system and ultimately, their sense of meaning a purpose affect self-efficacy.

Wellness seekers can set noble goals and create wellness plans, but their success with them will often come down to a matter of belief. Do they believe that by taking action they can affect their health in a positive way (self-efficacy)? Do they believe that they are worth the time and effort (self-worth)? Do they believe that taking these actions expresses who they truly are and that it is important to do so (meaning and purpose)?

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates

Wellness pioneer, Don Ardell, says that “Everyone has made decisions about meaning and purpose; unfortunately, many are unaware of their choices…” (Aging Beyond Belief, 2007). (  The wellness coaching process provides the opportunity for people to look at their lives in a three hundred and sixty degree view. Self-exploration and self-assessment are the first steps in the Wellness Mapping 360°™ wellness coaching process. The process of self-discovery then continues throughout the coaching experience. As it goes forward the individual may discover that their motivation for change is intimately tied with their beliefs about themselves and the world around them. A central part of everyone’s belief system is his or her own sense of meaning and purpose.

Expressing our gifts, we add value to the world.

As we continually explore our sense of meaning and purpose in life we attain more clarity about who we are and the gifts we have to offer the world. As we express those gifts to add value to the world we experience mastery and build self-worth and self-esteem, and this in turns builds self-efficacy. As we are clear that we have reasons to be here, we are motivated to live our lives to express that meaning and purpose and to be healthy and well enough to do so.

We want to be able to paint, to be a nurturing parent, to dance, to write, to design bridges, write code for smartphone apps that make living easier, bring clean water to villages in third-world countries, or help people succeed at lasting lifestyle improvement. To do those things we first have to take care of ourselves, maintain our energy, function at our best, be good examples, or in other words, be well.

In the long run wellness is never about setting a few fitness and nutrition goals alone. It is about who we are, our sense of connectedness to the greater whole and how we allow ourselves to experience and express that. Much of our behavior is an expression of our beliefs. What we do flows out of who we are, and very much so, whom we think we are.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”
Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha)

Please sign up and attend the Real Balance Wellness Coach Training Institute’s Free Monthly Webinar APRIL 26th (Tue.), Noon Eastern Time Zone- Meaning, Purpose, Wellness and Coaching with Dr. Michael Arloski. Register at Call 1-866-568-4702.


About Michael Arloski

CEO and Founder of Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc. ( Real Balance has trained thousands of wellness coaches worldwide. Dr. Arloski is a board member of The National Wellness Institute, and a founding member of the executive team of The National Consortium For Credentialing Health and Wellness Coaches. He is author of the leading book in the field of wellness coaching: Wellness Coaching For Lasting Lifestyle Change, 2nd Ed.
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