According to a 2011 study published in the journal Social, Psychological, and Personality Science, it’s a lackadaisical, “I don’t care” attitude. Men of the 21st century, it seems, are most attracted to women with purpose and meaning in their lives.
In the study, headed by Tyler Stillman, a psychologist at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, UT, men and women were surveyed on video about their meaning in life. Brief footage of the interviews were shown to a group of judges. The stronger the participants’ clear purpose in life, the more likable they were considered to be. This held true regardless of their scores in other measured parameters, including self-esteem, spirituality, openness, happiness, or physical attractiveness.
“For participants who were of average or below average attractiveness, having a strong sense of meaning made them significantly more appealing.”
So what can you do to find your purpose?
A few years ago, a lot happened in my life, all at once. I started medical school, went through a bad break-up, got mono, faced my mother’s bladder cancer diagnosis, and had to have an emergency surgery of my own – all within the span of eighteen months. I fell into a pretty bleak depression. I was always a go-getter before that time: good was never good enough, great could always be better. And then I found myself in a situation in which I literally could not get out of bed. (Mono will do that.)
People always say that the hard times can teach you lessons, but I disagree. The hard times can only teach you lessons if you are ready and willing to learn. More often than not, people fall under the weight of the hard times, allowing their hopes and dreams to be crushed. It’s easy to do when sympathy comes cheap and the excuses are free. But eventually, if you want to rise, you have to overcome. The life expert Jim Rohn calls it “the day that turns your life around”; he says his was the day a Girl Scout asked him to buy a box of cookies for $2 and he realized he couldn’t afford it. For me, it was the day I looked in the mirror and I didn’t recognize my own eyes. Can you imagine? It’s a scary thing. My mom always said I had a “twinkle” in my eyes growing up, but it was gone. I was 25 years old and might as well have been 105.
I didn’t get my “sparkle” back easily. It’s still an ongoing process – a fight, you might as well say. Yet I will tell you, a life without a realized purpose is not a life worth living. If you are serious about having the best life you can possibly have, then you have to get serious about studying people with purpose. You have to become as serious about finding and executing your purpose as an engineer is about finding the solution to a complicated equation. Here are the best resources I’ve found on finding your purpose:
- The Day that Turns Your Life Around, by Jim Rohn. I recommend this as an audio book because Jim Rohn is as excellent and inspiring a speaker as he is an author. Plus, it’s easier to get books read passively in the car!
- Finding Your North Star, by Martha Beck. Probably the best book I’ve ever read on discovering what you are meant to do with your life. It’s no wonder Oprah recommended it – I had more “Aha!” moments reading this than any other book!
- The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, by Jack Canfield. Time-tested principles that can not only tell you what you are meant to do, but how exactly you can do it. Warning: It’s not easy. But it works.