The Pause in Menopause: Shifting Priorities to Live with Purpose
This stage signifies a new chapter in a woman's life. Don't write yourself off! Instead, many women simply decide to rewrite their entire book. For example: More than 60 percent of divorces are initiated by women in their 40s, 50s or 60s — the menopause years — according to a survey conducted by AARP Magazine.
We're all too familiar with the physical changes that accompany the change of life — weight gain, mood swings, hot flashes, etc. That's why many of us menopausal women seek to find balance, often focusing on the spiritual as well as the physical. Our priorities often shift as we take this opportunity for self-reflection and inner focus. We may find a renewed sense of purpose.
Two Key Attributes of Living with Purpose
Contemplation and activation are two core practices for living with purpose, according to an article by expert Richard Leider for the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. Contemplation means seeking answers about who you are, how you should live, and where you belong. Activation is living your truth.
How can you achieve these goals? Start with these exercises:
- Reflect. Review the day's events each evening for 5-10 minutes. Which experiences were life-giving? Which were life-draining?
- Meditate. A study by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain found that meditation increases one’s sense of life purpose.
- Keep a journal. This can help you reflect and express yourself honestly. Allow yourself to write freely.
- Write your life story. Reflect upon where you have been, the events that have shaped who you are today, and the future you imagine for yourself. What obstacles do you foresee? How will you overcome them?
What's Your Purpose?
If you don’t have a clue, ask yourself the questions below and following the steps to help uncover your purpose, according to a Psychologytoday.com article by Dr. Brad Klontz.
- What do you value most? Family? Friendship? Faith? Excellence? Generosity? Peace? Balance? Something else?
- How do you want others to describe you? What you would want to be written in your obituary? What legacy do you want to leave?
- What is your special purpose? Jot it down on a business card. You can tweak it later.
- Begin and end each day by reciting your purpose. Carry that business card in your wallet or purse. Read it every now and then to remain focused.
Mindfulness Benefits Your Mind
While we're told that word puzzles, dancing and other exercise can help our aging brains, the same can be said for living with purpose. Research from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago revealed that individuals with high purpose scores were 2.4 times more likely to remain free of Alzheimer’s than those with low scores; they were also less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor. In a study of 246 people who died at the center, autopsies found that many of those with high purpose scores also showed the distinctive markers of Alzheimer’s.
Living a purposeful life also appears to protect people from developing disabilities. Purposeful people also had a lower mortality rate than those with low purpose.
A purposeful life also can lead to a longer life. Another study, by Dr. Patrick Hill, Department of Psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, found that purpose in life promotes longevity. Both the Rush and the Carleton teams controlled for numerous other factors correlated with well-being — social relationships, chronic medical conditions and disability, work status — and found that purpose in life alone appears to improve and extend lives.
I'm keeping my promise to myself to living life more fully, with greater meaning. I challenge you to do the same. How can you give your life more meaning, make your life more purposeful? Are you up for the challenge?
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!