Searching for Purpose
Life can become discouraging as we struggle with setbacks, get tied down with multiple responsibilities, or undergo unexpected life changes. Emotions such as emptiness, apathy, or dissatisfaction connected to ruminating thoughts about your life can signify a lack of purpose.
Loss of purpose can result in isolation and seclusion, preventing us from connecting with others. Feeling powerless over overwhelming circumstances can leave you with difficult decisions. These emotions can cause depression and anxiety. A search for a purpose can give life more meaning.
The John Templeton Foundation article “The Psychology of Purpose” states, “purpose is a stable and generalized intention to accomplish something that is at once personally meaningful and at the same time leads to productive engagement with some aspect of the world beyond the self.” The question of purpose and meaning in life has been questioned and searched for years by numerous scholars.
The June Health therapy team conducted a Finding Life Purpose & Meaning Workshop focused on the beliefs of Dr. Viktor Frankl. After four years of imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, Frankl studied the relationship between suffering and the ability to find meaning in life. Frankl points out how responsibility, choice, and uniqueness correlate to his experience.
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible,” states Frankl.
Defining a Purpose
Emily Esfahani Smith is a writer, editor, and speaker who focuses on topics surrounding psychology and philosophy. During a TED Talk, she discusses the importance of meaning in life by identifying the four pillars of belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling. Smith illustrates how the pillars connect to our happiness.
“When people explain what makes their lives meaningful, they describe connecting to and bonding with other people in positive ways. They discuss finding something worthwhile to do with their time. They mention creating narratives that help them understand themselves and the world. They talk about mystical experiences of self-loss,” Smith says.
Identifying a purpose in our lives can give us guidance and goals to work towards. A therapist can support your aspirations and assist you in navigating your life. The following statements are examples of a purpose.
- I want to fight for issues in society that can lead to change and benefit the community. I want to make a difference in the world and leave it a better place.
- My purpose is to create a happy and loving life for my family. I want to support my children and spouse while still having time to pursue my passions. I will focus on bettering myself to care for them.
- The purpose of my life is to have a successful career. I want to be an expert in my field. I want to accomplish my goals and enjoy retirement.
Finding purpose can change from day to day, week to week, or year to year. We can recognize meaning in small acts of thoughtfulness every day. Defining what we find meaningful does not necessarily take something profound.
Getting What We Need
There are essential psychological needs that we all have to feel simple gratification. Abraham Maslow created a theory of motivation that outlines the hierarchy of needs in psychology. Physical needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization form the pyramid. We find fulfillment by making sure that all of our basic needs are satisfied in our lives.
The benefits of living a life centered around purpose can bring us fulfillment. Satisfying your needs can bring an understanding of what we need and give us contentment. Desires and aspirations are essential to our well-being and give us a clear direction to help us live happier.
Thinking of making changes to our lives can be associated with anxiety and uncertainty. We fear what will happen if we do make changes. It is essential to learn how to align our inner values with what is happening in our lives.
Learning to find control in our lives can help us manage daily tasks. Gaining control of our lives can give us the ability to make adjustments so we can live with purpose. We are all called to be responsible for our lives. The opportunity created by decision and choice is a significant chance to implement change that can affect our future.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom,” states Frankl.
Talking to a Therapist
Understanding purpose and bridging the gap between our ambitions and the present can build a new objective for meaning in life for the future. Therapists are instrumental in creating a plan to accomplish these desires.
Talking to the June Health team and seeking answers to any questions you might have can lead to discovering a solution to everyday problems in life. A therapist can help you identify and talk about the emotions you are experiencing and determine if they are associated with a lack of purpose. They can also help you build a plan to find purpose and take the first step to give your life more meaning.