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Why We All Need Purpose

I recently decided to embark on the exciting journey of buying a dog. I haven't actually bought one yet, but I'm very much in the planning stages. I just need to make a few changes in the house, and top of the list is actually getting a new house as well as a lifestyle that allows me to spend more time there. This dog owning journey needs to be thought through. You see, my bucket list dog is a husky, and you can't go and buy one of these types of dogs in a whimsical moment.

I have put so much thought into getting a husky, that I still don’t have a husky.

No one should be a bad dog owner, but you definitely can’t be one with a husky. Whilst some dogs might succumb to boredom and sleep the day away, you're not going to get away with that with a husky, or any working dog for that matter. Not unless you like your belongings ripped up into confetti.

Growing up we had an adorable bordie collie, and even though she was entertained and walked, she would pretty much tear up anything she could get her paws on when left alone. There were chewed video cassettes, cushions, lounge suites, remote controls, books, sprinkler pipes, washing off the line and shoes, oh the shoes.

If she didn’t have a purpose for the day, everything at her eye level was fair game. We’d walk in after school to see her laying in an exhausted heap, surrounded by our belongings in tiny, tiny pieces.

As funny as this memory is, us humans are much the same. The need for purpose is one of our defining characteristics. We crave purpose and we need it. If we don’t have a purpose, we suffer psychological difficulties and can often behave in destructive ways.

We don’t fair well without a purpose.

Our human brain craves stimulation, and if we're not stimulating it by doing things that keep our mind engaged and active, then it will find something else to stimulate itself with, like negative thoughts, sabotaging relationships or addictive type behaviours.

An unintentional life often causes unnecessary suffering.

Having no purpose contributes to the start of addictions; gaming, gambling, alcohol, sex, drugs and whatever else one uses to alleviate boredom and pain. All human versions of ripping a dog ripping up its owner’s shoes. A strong urge comes over you to do it, and it feels good at the time. But in the end you are going to feel worse about yourself and probably get a smack on the nose by those that love you.

There are many examples of what can happen when we don’t have a sense of purpose in our lives. It makes us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. The teenager who is bored, starts video gaming to fill the void, and now spends days in his dark room becoming more withdrawn. The new mum who once had a busy working life, is now at home all day and gets stuck in a cycle of anxiety and panic. The young man, who drops out of university, turns to drugs to numb the mundaneness of his day that was once filled with study and mates. The new retiree after working most of his life slips into depression without the structure and purpose he once had.

As much as spare time is good for us, we need to be doing something that has meaning to us and feeds our sense of purpose. Purpose keeps you busy, it gives you something to engage in, work towards and keep your mind active. It lowers stress, anxiety and keeps you mentally strong.

So go out and find your inner-husky a purpose before you start ripping up the couch. It might be a job, it might be a hobby, it might be volunteering or it might be writing that book you always wanted to write. Whatever it is, you have to want to do it, it has to challenge you and it needs to have meaning.

We all need something bigger than ourselves to chew, and it’s up to us to find it.

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