Often, painful feelings that we experience are related to having a lack of purpose and meaning in our lives – a sense of being lost. Finding our purpose may feel insurmountable, and often be fraught with many unsuccessful attempts. So how do we get “un-lost” and find true meaning in life? This is one of the hardest questions to answer, but Viktor Frankl has come close with his wise words:
“Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked.” What Frankl means here is that each person finds meaning in something unique, and we all have to choose that something in order to give life meaning. In other words, there is no universal holy grail to search for – if we do that, we are wasting our time. Instead, find things we care about and make those things our purpose!
However, the question of finding the things we genuinely enjoy, is another different, and very difficult question. If we don’t yet know and accept our authentic selves, it will likely be very difficult to know the things that make us genuinely happy. Not just temporary happiness, but rather lasting fulfillment. When we are wearing the masks of who we think we should be (often for other people), it may seem like nothing is really that fulfilling and we are just “going through the motions” of life.
Lastly, it is important to distinguish between genuine healthy passion and enjoyment and the powerful highs we get from addictive behaviors, which at the time can feel overwhelmingly like true passion, even though they have destructive longer-term consequences.
Beginning to work through your true goals and purpose with a trained therapist can be the start to a better life.