Sense of Purpose: The Key to Living our Best Life – Third Toastmasters Speech

If you were to ask me what my most fulfilling and memorable life experiences were, I could tell you they were volunteering experiences.

During my stay in Japan, I have been participating in various volunteering activities, one of which organized by an NPO called Ganbaro Miyagi which provides mental care support for children under one of their disaster recovery projects called International English Camp. As a volunteer, I was able to help children learn and have fun through different activities that allowed them to develop their sense of proactiveness, independence, and awareness to the outside world.

I also used to volunteer through another NPO called Hands-on Tokyo, to support orphanage children, elderly at senior home, and those with special needs.

The smiles on those kids’ faces had lighten up my heart and I felt those were the most meaningful gifts those kids gave me. Now, I understand that this feeling is a sense of purpose that others were talking about, and I wanted to look further into it.

What is a Sense of purpose?

According to cardiologist Randy Cohen (medical director of University Medical Practice Associates at Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, New York), there is no formal definition of having a purpose in life, but it can be defined as a sense of meaning and feeling that one’s life is worth living. [1]

Our sense of purpose is what motivates or drives us to achieve our goals and it is completely personal to our lifestyle and preferences.

So now let’s look at why it is important for us to live our life with a sense of purpose?

Why having a sense of purpose is essential

Having a sense of purpose not only brings meaning to our life but also provides us tremendous benefits.

Purpose increases happiness

First, purpose increases our happiness. Scientific studies show that people without purpose in life are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, boredom, and loneliness. Living by what we value and what gives us meaning makes us happier. [3]

Purpose increases life expectancy

Second, purpose helps us to live longer and healthier.

Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zone of Happiness, had identified communities across the world where people live longer and healthier than the average. One factor that those communities share in common is that the habitants have a strong sense of purpose. [2]

It is also proved in the study by Dr. Randy Cohen and his colleagues that possessing a high sense of purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk for mortality and cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack. [1]

It is not entirely clear why a strong sense of purpose benefits our mind and body but evidence suggests that people who believe their lives have meaning take better care of their health. [5]

Purpose increases productivity and performance

Another benefit of having a sense of purpose is it increases our productivity and performance.

Researchers at the University of Michigan [4] found out that working with a sense of purpose leads to far greater engagement, motivation, productivity, and retention.

So we can clearly see the important and benefits of living and working with a sense of purpose. But how can we find it?

How to find a sense of purpose

There are many ways to discover your sense of purpose, but one which has drawn lots of attention in recent years, and you probably have heard of is the Japanese concept of ikigai. [3,6]

Explained in Hector and Francesc’s book, ikigai means “reason for being” [6]. It is not about one’s financial status but it’s about the mental and spiritual circumstances under which people feel that their lives are valuable.

Originated from the island of Okinawa, the concept of ikigai helps people discover their life purpose through four simple questions:

What do you love?

What are you good at?

What does the world need?

What can you get paid for?

As you can see at the centre of the interconnection of your answers to those questions is your ikigai.

Let me try to give you my answers to first two questions, what I love is children, and what I am good at are teaching and coding, so now I should already find one of my passions which is teaching children how to code..  and if I continue to answer the rest of the questions, I am sure I will find my ikigai.

Finding your ikigai is a continual process of self-discovery and it can change over time as we age, so we all should be in constant reflection, searching, and shifting to find that new balance and fulfillment over the long-term [7].

This brings me to the conclusion that..  


A sense of purpose is the key to living a meaningful life. It is the core of our passion and it can bring us to deeper levels of long-term happiness, makes us resilience, and improves our overall well-being. You can apply the concept of Ikigai to find your purpose.

Now, take a moment to think about what gets you excited to get up every morning? And ask yourself the critical question of “do I have a sense of purpose in my life?” If you feel like you are lacking purpose, seeking out new opportunities may help, and I encourage you to continue looking for your ikigai.


  1. Cohen, R., Bavishi, C., & Rozanski, A. (2016). Purpose in Life and Its Relationship to All-Cause Mortality and Cardiovascular Events: A Meta-Analysis. Psychosomatic medicine78(2), 122–133.
  2. Buettner D. (2017). The blue zones of happiness: Lessons from the world’s happiest people. Washington DC: National Geographic Books.
  3. Schippers, M. C., & Ziegler, N. (2019). Life Crafting as a Way to Find Purpose and Meaning in Life. Frontiers in psychology10, 2778.
  4. Rosso, B.D., Dekas, K., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2010). On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review. Research in Organizational Behavior, 30, 91-127.
  5. Kim, E. S., Strecher, V. J., & Ryff, C. D. (2014). Purpose in life and use of preventive health care services. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America111(46), 16331–16336.
  6. García, H., Miralles, F., & Cleary, H. (2017). Ikigai: the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. New York: Penguin Books.

Pathway: Motivational Strategies
Level 1, Researching and Presenting

A software engineer, a toastmaster, and a hobbyist photographer. Love to spend time reading, learning and experiencing new things, traveling, and thinking :)

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