Influence begins when I alter the focus of other people. Purpose is about being aware of the results that I am producing. Allow me to influence you by focusing with me on the subject of purpose a bit more.
Many people seem to relate to the idea of purpose as something that is generally clear prior to any activity. However, what is the purpose of breathing? Do I conceive of a specific favorable outcome, then analyze possible methods for promoting that outcome, then experiment with the various possible methods, then choose to breathe?
There is a purpose to breathing, although how aware I am of that purpose is a distinct issue from whether or not there is any breathing happening. When do I tend to be aware of the purpose of breathing: when I am not breathing well or when I am breathing well?
Imagine a sleeping organism. It is breathing fine. It remains asleep. It keeps breathing. It keeps sleeping. Hours can pass like that. (Or, in the case of hibernation, an organism can sleep for literally months at a time without ever contemplating the true purpose of breathing.)
In contrast, imagine another organism sleeping poorly and having difficulty breathing. If the organism’s breathing reaches a point of extreme ineffectiveness, is the organism likely to remain asleep? Or, will a suffocating organism wake up with a very clear focus on the possibility of improving the effectiveness of their breathing?
Purpose guides us whether or not we are aware of it. In regard to breathing, it can go well with no attention to it, like during a restful sleep. However, if there is some trouble with breathing, such as congestion blocking the airways in the nose, then some adjustment may be relevant.
First, the organism might sneeze. That can sometimes loosen up the congestion and allow for breathing through at least one nostril.
If that does not work, then the organism might simply open it’s mouth to compensate for the airways of the nose still being blocked. But what if that adaption does not work well either? What if there is some other issue, like the air is full of smoke?
In some cases, an organism will wake up because of trouble breathing. Further, the more trouble that an organism has with breathing, the faster that they might wake up because of something like smoke. It is their lack of adaptiveness (effectiveness) that could make them so sensitive to small reductions in air quality.
Someone who has trouble breathing may be much more aware of breathing in general than most other people. Further, if there is a specific circumstance that inhibits the normal potential for breathing to fulfill its purpose, then who is likely to notice that faster: someone who breathes very well and very easily or someone with below average breathing?
So I began by asserting that influence begins when I alter the focus of other people. We could even broaden the definition and relate to influence as any pressure (so that if I reinforce the existing focus of someone, that is still a kind of influence, at least in a very broad sense of the word).
If a temporary absence (like walking out of the room) results in any change in someone’s experience, then that is also influence, right? Maybe someone’s presence in some way reduces the potential for another person to innovate on their own.
With different people, we may experience some of them as causing increased alertness or stress and some of them as contributing to relaxation or ease. So, the departure of a person who seems soothing or calming might result in increased alertness. Likewise, the departure of someone might result in a sense of relief.
Of course, those effects can vary even among the same two people being around each other. I may find someone to be occasionally soothing or reassuring, occasionally stressful or annoying, and occasionally something completely different.
What is the purpose of breathing? Ideally, it increases the concentration of oxygen in the blood to proper levels and reduces the concentration of carbon dioxide.
What is the purpose of two people intentionally seeking each other’s presence across hours and weeks and even decades? There are a few possible purposes (and sometimes more than one purpose is active).
One possible purpose is specifically to promote relaxation. Maybe two people find the presence of the other reassuring. Maybe it is more of a “unilateral” relief in which one person is seeking relaxation and the other, perhaps a massage therapist or a professional flute player, is providing a relaxing experience to the other in exchange for a specific payment.
Or, consider a professional comedian. People who would like some relief from their experience of being uptight and stressed may value going to a comedy show or even just watching a comedy movie.
What do we call the type of breathing that often manifests at the end of a very funny joke? If someone’s foot gets tickled, what kind of breathing might result?
There are several words that all refer to the same group of behaviors: laughing, giggling, snickering, or chuckling. In general, people tend to value the experience of fun (and laughter is a behavior that we associate as a signal for fun). We like people that seem to us to be funny and amusing and humorous.
We like being around them. We like watching them on TV. We like talking to them. We even like talking about them.
However, there are several other purposes that may be attractive in addition to obtaining relief from stress through humor. Even if we like most comedians, there may be some that we do not like much and some that we like quite a bit. While we may very much like a comedian that we find hilarious, most of us do not watch the same comedian for 10 hours a day over and over.
We have other interests. We may value that “a good laugh” can quickly improve some aspect of our breathing, but what about when we are already relaxed? In fact, what if we laugh so hard that we value some time to recover from all of that intense laughing?
Laughing involves unusually rapid breathing. Rapid, forceful exhalations are labeled “laughs.”
Usually, we enjoy laughing. However, have you ever heard of “hysterical laughter?”
I do not mean just the act of laughing a joke that I experience as hysterically funny. Hysterical laughing is associated with people who are mentally unstable, as in hysteria.
There is a kind of laughter that is not just an occasional nervous laugh, but an ongoing sequence of intense laughs. In fact, if a comedian pretends to be overcome with hysterical laughter, we may find that delightful. But when someone spontaneously experiences hysterical laughter, there can actually be an element of distress or panic.
So, let’s consider hyperventilation. That is breathing out so fast that we begin to suffocate.
As we study this subject, we can be aware that the purpose of breathing is to create good balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our blood stream, but sometimes breathing fails to work. Obviously, someone who is deep underwater and drowning cannot use breathing to fulfill the main purpose for which breathing was intended. Further, someone who is experiencing hyperventilation (including in the form of hysterical laughter) is not effectively fulfilling the purpose which breathing is designed to fulfill.
What do we need when we are suffocating due to hyperventilation? We need to slow down (or even simply pause) our rapid rate of breathing.
However, when someone is experiencing an “attack” of hysterical laughter or panic or asthma or apnea, then they may have difficulty slowly down their rate of breathing directly. They may spontaneously cover their mouth with one hand. Some people will even know to cover their mouth with a cup or a little brown bag, then inhale from the same air that they just exhaled. Why does that actually interrupt hyperventilation and prevent suffocation (death)?
Breathing is not just designed to bring oxygen in to the blood, but to remove carbon dioxide. However, if the carbon dioxide is removed too fast, that is actually what produces hyperventilation. (Carob dioxide is required in the bloodstream because that is what carries the oxygen from the blood cells to the tissues that surround the blood vessels, such as the brain cells.)
So, in order to breath better, quantity is not always better. Sometimes quality is the issue. Breathe precisely and carefully. Notice what works. With all forms of hyperventilation, people have plenty of oxygen in their blood and what they need is to slow down the amount of exhalation. They need to actually reduce the quantity of breathing in order to improve the quality or effectiveness of the breathing.
To cover their mouth, they can use their hands or a cup or anything else that results in them breathing back in a lot of the carbon dioxide that they just breathed out. Also, as their alertness and calm returns, they can greatly slow down their rate of breathing… not too far of course, but far enough to counter the “panic” that resulted from over-breathing / hyperventilating.
Anyway, consider that anyone who is trying to find “their true purpose” may actually be attempting to avoid it (to hide from it). Let your purpose(s) find you.
Also, if you think some purposes are in ANY way better than others, that could delay your recognition of a purpose that might be rather obvious to other people. First, actual results can be a rather direct indicator of purposes. Further, some results may be attractive not as something to continuously keep producing, but to produce once so clearly and intensely that we experience a clarity that is triggered through that extreme.
How can you find out what you do value? Getting it and then also losing it is one way. Getting the exact opposite result of what you value is another way.