Having purpose when living with a heart condition. Today I chat about purpose. I’ll talk about what it means when living after a cardiac event.
I will explain that it isn’t what you achieve but the feelings that you experience on the journey. As your body releases its natural feel-good chemical, dopamine.
That it’s not always the big things that make the difference. When recovering from a heart attack or cardiac event it’s the little baby steps that matter.
Helping you overcome the ‘what’s the point’ thoughts so you feel purposeful.
Hearing about my Own Today activity and how you can start using it.
- How purpose helps in emotional cardiac rehabilitation
- My personal pity party
- How I changed my thinking and expectations
- Other ways to gain purpose
- The Own Today activity
- What thoughts might stop you using the own today activity and what you can do to change them
- Download my FREE Activity Map: Own Today. It will explain in more detail and give you a path to follow
- Join me on Facebook in the My Heart & Mind Podcast Community
If you prefer a read → Having purpose when living with a heart condition
To have purpose when living with a heart condition gives you motivation and meaning to enjoy the journey of your life. Have you experienced those moments when you have felt truly connected with what you are doing? That to me is having purpose.
It feels like you are fully alive, you are being your authentic self. It’s being completely absorbed in something, where time has no meaning. Often this is called ‘flow’ or being in ‘The Zone’. This article is to help you find your purpose, your meaning, the get-up and go that has you jumping out of bed in the morning. Your ‘thing’ that makes you feel real and good.
Be glad that you did, not wish that you had
Having a purpose isn’t really about what you have achieved. Its more about the feeling you have, that fulfilment and joy about living your life. That knowing that at the end of days you’ll be glad that you did and not wish that you had.
Purpose is the feeling behind something we want to do or achieve. That realisation that we and what we do is something that exists. It’s not just physically but emotionally too. Like a family that feels loved and cherished.
Having a feeling of purpose is a person’s sense of resolve or determination. This is what we need to overcome obstacles. To manoeuvre around difficulties and accept changes to our lives and our bodies.
It’s about having an intentional life. A way we want to live and following through with action and being our authentic selves.
During my recovery, I felt like I had lost purpose in my life. I had lived a healthy active life, on the main I had made good food choices. I didn’t stress and I had a career that I loved. But it did me no good. Despite doing all the right things I still had a heart attack and a cancer diagnosis. Erm, did I mention my leg being in plaster too? I kind of lost the reason for being, my rehabilitation seemed like it was going to go on forever and ever.
I was so energised from the moment I realised I had a vision and I was driven to achieve it. My purpose was to help people like me. People that had were living with a heart condition and was finding it less than easy to cope emotionally. Those who felt overwhelmed by the impact of their life and the changes that had happened.
When you have a sense of purpose, you never get up in the morning wondering what you’re going to do with yourself. When you’re ‘in purpose’ – that is, engaged with and working towards your purpose. Life becomes easier, less complicated and stressful.
What is the point?
I spoke previously about the feeling of ‘what’s the point’ in doing anything. Well, people, it’s about that feeling of meaning, the difference you can make to your life and the life of others.
During my cardiac recovery, I was in a wheelchair and on my own with my daughter who was in the middle of her GCSEs. My point then was to get her through the exams without my health getting in the way. It wasn’t easy for either of us but I had no choice and nor did she. Life went on. Once she was out of the house or in her room, I could let my guard down and wallow. I did like a pity party and I let life go on around me.
That was until I decided I had to be different if I wanted to feel better. I decided to spend 15 minutes (all I could manage at first) a day checking and deleting some emails. Not from sitting on my sofa but in my home office. I then had a purpose each day, small as it was, it was that first glimmer that I needed.
When you have a feeling of purpose, living with a heart condition you find yourself living a conscious life. You’re living purposefully and in the now. You gain clarity about what is important and what is not.
Purpose brings with it, relentless energy and passion. You enjoy success not only in the outcome of your goals and ambitions but in the journey too. It helps you to build resilience and you’ll start to live a life that feels meaningful.
My mission is to help you with emotional rehabilitation. To give you practical tools, tips and tricks that you can easily use in your life that make a real difference to the way you feel. I want you to feel good now.
Whilst having a purpose can mean that huge thing ‘your life purpose’ that’s not where you start off. If you have that feeling every day of why am I here. Perhaps, what’s the point or just another day in paradise (said with sarcasm) then start small. Cultivate the habit of purpose and achievement. Like me and my 15 minutes of emails.
Things that you know you can achieve and will give you a reward, a hit of dopamine. Dopamine is that chemical that the brain releases. You get a hit of dopamine when you have a task, you look forward to completing it and you accomplish it. The size of the task is not important.
The activity ~ Not a to-do but a today list
1. Take 5 minutes in the evening to think about what you want to do the next day.
2. Grab some paper or a notebook – you could use a whiteboard or even your phone or laptop.
3. Write down say 2 or 3 things (5 absolute max) that you want to do/achieve
4. There should be mostly easily achievable, perhaps things that you do anyway eg have lunch or walk the dog.
5. But one should be something that you want to do that you haven’t done yet. If it is something big then break it down. What’s the first thing that you can do that would move you closer this day to achieving the bigger task.
6. Remember this isn’t a life purpose but the purpose for today. Maybe you want to clean the kitchen cupboards. Then choose just one cupboard to put on your list. It could be organising your fishing gear. So break it down the task today is to gather it all in one place.
7. The next day keep your list handy so you can see it. You may have allotted an amount of time to each activity or put them in alphabetical order. Whatever floats your boat.
8. Now this is the bit I like …. And why I prefer to use paper and pen over technology. As you go through your day, tick off or cross through the tasks you achieve them.
9. At the end of your day, look at your list and see what you have achieved. You will feel that your day had purpose even when living with a heart condition. You may have moved towards something you wanted to do but just couldn’t be bothered.
Special Note: If you didn’t get it all done, that’s fine. Reflect on what got in your way – if it was out of your control, breathe and think ‘it is what it is’ and let it go, accept it. If it was something within your control, how can you overcome any barriers to do this tomorrow?
10. Then start over with a today list for tomorrow.
Every day this week make a list at the end of each day for the 3 things that you want to achieve tomorrow. Then take the steps to make them happen. I have created an Activity Map – Own Today to help you keep you on track.
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My Heart & Mind, Emotional Cardiac Rehab Community
Don’t keep it to yourself, let me know how you get on. Share with us your achievements, how did you own today?
What thoughts could get in your way?
There is nothing that I want to do!
So right now there might not be anything that springs to mind, so start small. You could just list the general jobs like clean teeth, make the bed, cook dinner.
Now the seed has been planted you may start to think of things throughout the day. Jot them down so you can check back on them later. If you are really stuck, get in touch with someone or ask in our community for ideas of things that you can do in a day.
My task is too big, I can’t get it done in a day!
Sometimes that is the case. You may need to spend a little more time breaking them down into manageable steps. There’s the question, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Again, if you are stuck with how to break it down, ask in our podcast community and see what others might suggest.