Purposeful Living


A Special Application

How do you discover meaningful purposes for your life and once discovered, how do you live purposefully so you canaccomplish them? Many Western mental health approaches focus primarily on symptom reduction - how can we help this person to feel better? But preoccupation with feeling better often distracts us from accomplishing the important purposes of our life.

Morita therapy helps us move forward and take action, even in the face of fear or uncertainty. Naikan is a method of reflection that helps us discover purposes, particularly during the transition times of our lives. Living purposefully means staying focused on what’s important and not being distracted. That is more and more difficult in a society which is increasingly designed to distract us (television, shopping malls, the Internet, etc.). Distraction is one obstacle to a purposeful life. The other is a desire for comfort or pleasant feelings. Both lead us away from a life which offers fulfillment and meaning - a life we can look back on without regrets.

Aidan Cares


Jarrett J. Krosoczka: How a boy became an artist



Dave Meslin: The antidote to apathy


Chip Conley: Measuring what makes life worthwhile

Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership

David Kelley: How to build your creative confidence

True Love and Affection - Narayanan Krishnan

“We are born purpose-seeking creatures. Purpose is necessary for our very health and survival. If you doubt this, check out the rates of illness and death when people lose or give up their sense of purpose.” -- Richard Leider


“It must be borne in mind that the tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal -- the tragedy lies in having no goal to
reach.” -- Benjamin Mays

Lee Kravitz - Author of Unfinished Business



Ben Dunlap talks about a passionate life


Articles From the ToDo Institute’s Resource Library

Japanese Psychology and Purposeful Living

Learning for Life

What is it that is so admirable about my mother? She is not wealthy nor famous, hasn’t written a book, nor run a marathon and her name won’t be included in the book of “who’s who.” Yet, my mother is an inspiration to me and many other people. Just one of the many reasons her family admires her is due to the practice she began on her 65th birthday, which was to learn something new every year.
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When Plans and Reality Collide: The Tale of Victoria’s Garden

Although the garden that Victoria tends today holds great meaning for her and others, the process of creating it was far different from what she had envisioned. At a critical point, despite her transcendent vision and with the aid of a highly synchronistic and rather humorous outer event (the hummingbird!), she stopped long enough to see clearly what could be accomplished with the reality directly in front of her: to surrender the details of her vision, to acknowledge her gratitude for what others were trying to do for her, and to allow a bridge to form from her original idea to a more relevant one. For those to whom images speak louder than words, her garden is a treasure for Naikan reflection and Morita-style goal tending.
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The Naturally Constructive Life of Scott Nearing

Scott and Helen Nearing’s version of “The Good Life,” as America’s homesteading heroes, is a highly individualistic one. The form and texture of their lives are alien to many of us who spend more time with buttons, keypads and switches than with soil or stone. Yet the foundation on which their lives were built is not only familiar, but consistent with many Constructive Living principles. Their vision, which was fervently developed and documented for more than half a century, was based on purpose, work, simplicity, service, and commitment.
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Purpose is Responding to What Needs to be Done

As I continued to apply what I learned, I gained a new perspective on the meaning of purpose. It was no longer confined to “what I would really LIKE to do with my life,” or “what SHOULD I be doing with my life” but rather it became much broader, more inclusive, and more immediate like “what needs doing now?” This new meaning demanded that I pay attention to my surroundings and notice the ripple effects of my actions.
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Finding Your Purpose


Purpose gives meaning to our lives. Consider the people you know -- friends, family, acquaintances, and even people you’ve met only briefly. Who seems truly alive to you? Who inspires you? To whom do you go when your batteries need recharging? Are the people you admire, people whose lives are guided by purpose?
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Finding Meaning in an Age of Distraction

The things that stick in one’s mind as the deep and wonderful expressions of one’s life, are counterintuitively usually those things that go against this notion of convenience, of comfort, of this centrality of our own importance.
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Getting on Track: Setting Goals for the Year That Aren’t Totally Self-Centered

In many of the workshops I conduct we begin by having people introduce themselves to someone else and as part of that introduction share the three most important things they’ve accomplished during the past year. For some people this turns out to be a very depressing inquiry. They scan the past months searching for something important they’ve done but find that they have little to show for the past year beyond “survival”.
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“We fool our mind into thinking that there may be a tomorrow by wasting ourselves today.”
Yoshimoto Ishin

“This the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is sort of a splendid torch that I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
George Bernard Shaw

Recommended Books


Concise Little Guide to Getting Things Done

Stop procrastination now
Buy the Concise Little Guide to Getting Things Done.

Concise Little Guide to Getting Things Done

“This is a rare read -- not one more guide to ‘getting more done’ but rather a handbook for first, carefully deciding on your life purposes, and next, ‘doing’ what needs to be done to make these dreams reality. I recommend this book to anyone who longs to stop frittering time away.”
Sarah Quigley, author of The Little Book of Courage

“At last!-a helpful antidote to all those motivational books and tapes. Forget motivation, which is just a feeling you can’t control. Turn instead to this practical book, which suggests many specific behaviors to get more done.”
Linda Hoag, MFT, School Counselor

“The Concise Little Guide is a little gem-full of uncommon and everyday wisdom. If you’ve ever felt ‘stuck’ or overwhelmed by life’s endless list of things to do, keep this book handy!”
Dixie Griffin Good, President, The Public Good, Inc.


A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness by Gregg KrechA Natural Approach to Mental Wellness
by Gregg Krech
If you are looking for wise and practical guidance about living well, you won’t find a finer resource than A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness. Read more about the book, A Natural Aprroach to Mental Wellness here. Buy now


Thirty Thousand Days

Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living

Thirty Thousand Days arrived and after spending some time reading the articles, I must say that you have outdone yourselves. The journal looks great, the articles are terrific and the paper even feels good. Congratulations!”
Dan Lucas, Arlington, VA

“What an OUTSTANDING issue! I devoured it cover to cover and found each and every article inspiring, humbling and informative. It is a real pleasure to continue receiving this fabulous publication.”
Jane Skiba, New Paltz, NY


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