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A Dog With Dementia & The Cultivation of Purpose

That night I was dealing with a dog with dementia, but she led me to where I needed to be. Purpose, gratitude, and peace are all intrinisically linked. When we encourage the cultivation of purpose in each other, especially within the framework of our workplaces, all things work together for good.



I found myself on the deck one night, originally to let our dog out while my husband and daughter cooked dinner together. Our dog is elderly now (fifteen years old) and I think she suffers from dementia—hence why I was on the deck. I needed to ensure that she came back up the stairs. After years and years of routine, she now forgets why she is outside or that she needs to come back up the deck stairs. Even if it’s cold or dark. So, yes, at that moment I was ensuring her potty break was indeed successful and that immediately afterwards she was called and encouraged to come back upstairs.


When she came up the stairs, I decided to sit down and take in the cool evening. The sky had taken on its hues of blue and gray, after sunset but before the darkness of the night took its hold. Every now and then, the sound of a breeze rustled in the distance before arriving to swirl my hair. A perfect fall evening.


From my seat outside, looking into the kitchen, the warm light highlighted the kitchen movements of my husband and daughter. A few words here and there, a plate being placed on the island, footsteps.


And out of the blue, it hit me. Not a literal hit, thank goodness, but a hit nonetheless. It was the hit of a tsunami wave of gratitude washing over me. Everything, and all at once. I can’t fully describe the depth and breadth of it; it was the small and the large, the long ago and the recent, the heart-wrenching and the everyday, the personal and the career, the moments you know inherently are life-changing and the ones that are so tiny they instantly flutter away.


In the midst of all this washing over me came a truly humbling and complete feeling of peace. Real peace. True gratitude. For everything and everyone that had brought me to this point. This immense feeling of thankfulness was the foundation upon which the peace was rooted.


Purpose, gratitude, and peace are all intrinsically linked. It’s so easy to define purpose when we think of ourselves. But to define purpose solely in terms of ourselves is to marinate in selfishness. If we think our sole purpose is our career, our family, our goals--we lose sight of the entire point.

Take the career aspect. How do you view your coworkers, direct reports, and/or clients? Is it maximizing their abilities to further yours? Are they an expendable resource to promulgate your worth, goals, and wants? Or are they an individual with unique hopes and setbacks trying to get to that more perfect tomorrow? Could you be the impetus to make their imagined a reality?


When we talk of leadership, we need to think beyond this industry, this position, or this monetary valuation. Get to know THEM, and by THEM I mean those people you work with and for. Know their partner’s names, their kids’ names, even their dogs’ names. Find out their talents, their dreams. Discover where their purpose lies—and NOURISH IT. Even if it means you’ll lose a good team member to a different or higher calling. When we encourage the cultivation of purpose, all things work together for good.


The nourishment needs to go both ways. If you are in a leadership position, share what your identified purpose is, and how you are working towards it. Too often those in leadership fear sowing seeds of discord or promoting disloyalty if they reveal that they too have plans beyond today’s position or company. Promote discussion up the chain as well as down.


If you happen to be one of the ones who have found their purpose and are living it each and every day—talk about it! Share it! Explain how you discovered and attained it, and how encouragement and drive propelled you there.


Without purpose we would not have the advancements we have today, the cures, the treatments, the art, the technology, the resources. We never know how a small act can forever change life itself.


I am forever grateful and indebted to those unnamed people who encouraged me, stood by me, and believed in me. Even when it was hard or did not serve their immediate needs or wants. Finding my purpose has invigorated my sense of gratitude and led me to a true and lasting peace.


I wish that for everyone.


I didn’t go outside that night seeking meditation, prayer, or solitude. I went outside because of a dog with memory issues. And I am incredibly glad that I did.


All things work together for good.

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2 Comments


Regarding "A Dog With Dementia & The Cultivation of Purpose" - Certain moments of settings inspire gratitude. Thanks for recording this one!

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Holly Bills
Holly Bills
Dec 04, 2022
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You're welcome, and I'm glad you enjoyed this one! We don't always know when gratitude will strike.

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