Identity and purpose in public safety

In this video, Gordon Graham encourages EMTs, paramedics to find a sense of purpose outside of EMS

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for everyone in public safety. And it has to do with finding purpose in your life — something that can dramatically improve your mental and physical health. 

Some of you probably know that I like to study what are sometimes called “blue zones.” These are several areas in the world where people tend to live longer and healthier lives. Okinawa, Japan is one of these places. And one of the secrets to their population’s longevity is something they call, in Japanese, ikigai (“ee-key-guy”). This is a term that refers to a person’s reason for living. And people who have a clear ikigai tend to live longer, happier lives. 

So how does this translate to those of us working in public safety? Our professions already have a purpose. And that might be way you joined. We work to serve, protect, and help others. This is true. But work is only one part of your life. And when you retire, those organizational purposes are not going to be there to keep you motivated. So, what is your personal reason for living? What purpose will keep you going now and throughout the rest of your hopefully long life?  

I want to propose a tool that can help you find your purpose in life. And you’re not going to believe that I am saying this, that tool is called a bucket list

Now, you may think I’m oversimplifying a life’s purpose by suggesting it can be reduced to a bucket list. But most of the examples of ikigai are simple things like tending a garden. Regularly visiting neighbors or relatives. Finding a new hobby or learning a new skill. They are things that people do to bring themselves joy and adventure. To enrich their lives and the lives of people they care about. Isn’t that what a bucket list really is? 

So please, make yourself a bucket list. Write down things that spark your interest or ignite a passion. Add items you think might lift your spirits and ones that might brighten the lives of those you care about. And when times get difficult, and they do, take a look at your bucket list. Pick an item and get to work chasing after that purpose. Remember, life can be short. So, use a bucket list to intentionally add joy, peace, and purpose. 

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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