Viktor Frankl’s book Mans Search For Meaning has to be the granddaddy of the focus on the important of purpose.
Written by the founder of a branch of psychology which places meaning above therapy, it has the added punch of being written by a man who made his observations about the importance about the meaning one attaches to day-to-day existence as a prisoner at Thereisienstadt concentration camp during WWII.
Still, it can sometimes be infuriating how easily some seem to find the things in life that give them direction, motivation and purpose, whilst many of us struggle to do the same.
I think sometimes it’s the expectation that everyone’s purpose is waiting to be found can be unhelpful. It’s much like the idea of “following your passion”. The problem is that sometimes it’s not until you’ve struggled through not knowing which direction to head or pushed past not enjoying the early stages of learning you realise you’ve found a connection.
This article from Mark Manson, who is the two-time #1 New York Time best-selling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck and Everything is F*cked is good one, sharing alternative questions to ask instead including:
- What am I willing to stick at doing even if I struggle (because struggle is usually the step before enjoyment)?
- What would you be embarrassed to tell your 8-year old self about who he/ she became?
- What activities make you forget to eat/ go to the toilet (ie. what you can apply yourself to)?
…and four others than REALLY make you think.
I’ve made a note to revisit these every six months, and I definitely think they’re questions anyone with kids should ask them sooner or later.