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Vince Mercuri: A mission of purpose critical to human journey

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Each morning as I pull into the parking garage, I am greeted with a sign proclaiming the mission statement of the city’s parking authority. Over the past
15 years or more, the norm has been that businesses/agencies develop and post a mission statement that clearly defines its values, goals, beliefs and objectives. This helps employees stay focused, know what goals to aim for and bring clarity to their job function and expectations.

Such a corporate pathway of purpose is a sound approach people can emulate for their own personal journeys. Developing a sense of purpose is vital to one’s overall emotional, physical, behavioral and spiritual health. Sadly, it is one of the most overlooked aspects of development.

Psychosocial human development is generally defined in three categories: organization (childhood), disorganization (adolescence) and reorganization (adulthood). Each phase has various tasks that need to be resolved. The common thread is achieving a solid sense of purpose.

When there is no clarity of purpose, people struggle and are prone to mistrust, shame, guilt, feelings of inferiority, identity confusion, isolation, self-absorption and disgust. This can have a negative impact on every aspect of their lives, especially relationships and self-worth. A lack of purpose creates bondage to self-centeredness, which can be toxic if prolonged.

However, a sense of purpose brings freedom, and with this liberty comes a person who is more engaged with his or her family, colleagues and neighbors. People with purpose enjoy more satisfying relationships as they invest their time, talents, energy and money in areas they are passionate about. Such commitment helps make people feel alive and enhances their desire to seek more meaningful causes and interactions that lift their spirit while lifting others.

A life’s mission of purpose has been shown to have numerous benefits, including a longer life, less heart disease and ability to handle pain better. A mission of purpose brings integrity, greater clarity and strength to battle fears; encourages trust, gratitude and grace toward others; and promotes resilience and challenging oneself. It enables people to live a value-based life.

Purpose in life is a critical foundation that must be embraced,
developed, implemented and refined as one grows — from an adolescent exploring and seeking his or her unique identity to a senior citizen mentoring the younger generation and sharing wisdom. If a parking garage finds purpose to be important to its business success, think how important it must be in our own lives.

I am reminded of this story: A friar walking through the woods one morning is stopped by a palace guard who demands, “Who are you and what are you doing here?” The startled friar ponders the inquiry and then asks the guard what he is paid by the king. The friar offers to double his salary if each morning as the friar starts his day the guard will ask, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

Vince Mercuri, executive director of the Open Door Alcohol/Drug Treatment Center and Crisis Intervention Program in Indiana, Pa., is a member of the Valley News Dispatch Editorial Board.