Living with purpose

By Russell Winwood - COPD Athlete · 16 Jun 2016

Robert F Kennedy once said “The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to making things better."

Men’s Health Week 2016 looks at the elements of life that build health and life’s purpose. For those who’ve read my articles before, you‘ll know that I’m a true believer: a healthy mind and healthy body means a better quality of life. So it’s not just about having a better quality of life in a physical sense; it’s also about how you look at life in general.

There’s no greater satisfaction in life than knowing that your actions have helped someone in a positive way. Our lives these days are hectic and we can easily lose focus on the important aspects of who we are and what makes us truly happy. How we refocus our minds so we can make a difference is often one brought about by a major life event.

My own example is useful in this discussion. Before I was diagnosed with lung disease it would be fair to say I was always chasing my tail, getting so lost in life’s chaos that I really didn’t think a lot about whether my life was making a positive difference to anyone. I’m not even sure if I cared whether it was. Being hit by a stroke at only 36 and then being diagnosed with lung disease at 45 sure gave me a reality check. These experiences made me reassess what my life was all about and I started thinking a bit when I’m gone. What would be my legacy? Have I made a difference?

While I’m sure there’s many who don’t need to go through an experience like mine to have some purpose in their life, I think just as many do. Building my physical and mental health and seeing the positive results I was getting made me realise that by sharing what I was doing, I could help others with the same disease. By setting an example, people could see that the positive change that was happening in my life could be applied to their own.

The reality is that if we are to live a life with purpose, we need to be in a positive place and that means both physically and mentally. We can exercise our bodies in many ways but how do we exercise our mind so we can be in that positive place? For most men and boys, we struggle with this process. Many of us still hold on to old-fashioned beliefs that you should bottle things up and never complain because that is apparently how you show your strength.

I certainly carried that banner for years. Whether it comes with maturity, age or just life experience, I have come to the opinion that to be in that positive head space, we just have to communicate. Talk to our mates, our boys and our family and listen to what they are saying. Communication resolves, repairs and rebuilds our mind and trust in each other, allowing us to once again feel purpose and become a positive contributor to that wonderful thing called life!

Russell Winwood
COPD Athlete

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