How to Help Teens Find Purpose

by Patrick Cook-Deegan

Studies show that a sense of purpose is a crucial factor to well-being and is especially important to cultivate during adolescence. According to researcher Kendall Brock, the development of a sense of purpose is integral to the development of identity.

What methods can expose teens to a world beyond themselves and help them find a purpose? Educator and researcher, Patrick Cook-Deegan, maps out sustainable happiness skills that can guide young learners in finding what they really love early in life.

A common plague among high school students today is a sense of demoralizing meaninglessness in their work and studies at school. Cook-Deegan’s extensive research suggests that exposing teens to the world beyond the classroom is central to finding and forming a sense of purpose. “Purpose-seeking experiences” may include traveling abroad, taking long trips into the wilderness, joining social-change organizations, and developing personal habits of reflection. Novel experiences challenge the status quo of daily life, allow students the opportunity to try new things, and provide a space to inwardly reconnect outside of the at-times stressful school environment. Cook-Deegan suggests teaching beyond the confines of curriculum. For example, understanding why algebra is important to learn is as critical as understanding why finding one’s identity shapes one’s future. Practicing mindfulness and introspection can greatly encourage a positive outlook for the future among teens today.

To find out more about the studies of purpose among teens from the Greater Good Science Center, read the full article here: How to Help Teens Find Purpose