Meaning & Purpose…
…are the keys to a happy, fulfilling life. That’s it. It’s not fancy and it doesn’t involve acquiring stuff. Discovering your purpose and finding a path that is meaningful to you is literally ALL YOU NEED to be fulfilled. Happiness, joy, and peace all come in the process of discovering your meaning and purpose. The add-ons may be finding a companion to share the journey with or living in a place that offers a gorgeous view, or traveling to a different destination every year, but even add-ons like these cannot be fully appreciated unless you are actually living a life of meaning and purpose.
Which is not only about your career choice. It is about the most important aspects of your life: Do you find meaning in being a parent? Are your friendships meaningful to you? Is your marriage? Or your spiritual path?
It’s not emotional or what you feel like doing in this moment. It’s actually more of a calm, subtle knowing that there’s more to life than just working and surviving. I’ve heard the question, “What are you passionate about?” But I think that can feel too dramatic. And the drama can bring on a pressure to pick a path in life that is Oprah-esque or Mother Teresa-like. Which then causes folks to shut down because that mountain is just too impossible to climb.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist & neurologist who survived a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. Mentally and emotionally he survived because he found meaning and purpose to his life beyond the camp. The book he had been working on prior to the war had been confiscated when he arrived at Auschwitz. It had contained all the theories and research he had compiled over the course of his career. When it was taken, he felt compelled to write it all over again on any scrap of paper he could get his hands on. This gave him a reason to live.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
As we approach the new year, instead of creating a list of resolutions you’d like to incorporate into your life (which usually fall to the wayside by March), I encourage you to sit quietly and contemplate your life up to this point. Has it been meaningful to you? Does it bring purpose to your daily get up and go? If you answer YES, then bring out the champagne and celebrate! If you answer NO, then I encourage you to go inward and set an intention with your psyche & soul to create a more meaningful life.
And that begins with the “next step.” The next step isn’t the end goal and doesn’t have to be all-consuming. It’s just the next step. If you want to feel more connected to a particular friend or acquaintance, maybe your next step is to allow yourself to be more vulnerable with that person. Sometimes we get overwhelmed by a specific end goal that we remain frozen in time, not able to move toward it. The next step is simply that. Next. In order to get a graduate degree, I first have to look at the universities who offer my degree of interest. If the end goal is to go into business for yourself, your next step may be to apply for a business license. It’s the small steps that lead us to our end goal. One foot in front of the other gets you to the finish line or the top of the mountain…. or maybe just out the door.
You may not even know what the end goal looks like exactly. All you know is that currently, your life doesn’t feel meaningful to you. So your next step may be to simply sit with the notion, the idea that you want more meaning, more purpose. You’re not sure what that looks like yet, but being aware of this desire alerts your conscious mind that you’re open to a change…
…and that’s when the fun begins.
~Happy 2020, Everyone!