Purpose is Key to a Meaningful Life

Purpose is key to life


For some, finding their purpose is like climbing an insurmountable mountain filled with craggy edges and gaping fissures. It is easier to seek short term fulfillment for them than to understand the richness that lies below the surface or the transient satisfactions they seek.


I recently re-watched a movie: Born Rich, a documentary directed by Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune. In general, it seemed the young adults didn’t know what to focus on, except for a couple of them, seemed to lack motivation, they followed the crowd, and they knew the history of their money but not its purpose. For the males in the movie, a lack of purpose seemed a bigger issue than for the females.


Purpose can offer so much. Like a compass with the needle always showing you where true north is, purpose is akin to one’s true north.  It sets the course from which decisions can be made that fulfill the purpose that gives life to the purpose, that make purpose tangible.


Purpose adds meaning when so often and in so many places, there is none.  I am reminded of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, a book written by Victor Frankl the prominent psychiatrist and holocaust survivor. He surmised that finding one’s purpose is the core of life and doing so in such extreme conditions as the Nazi concentration camps distinguished survivors from those who succumbed to the tortures and horrors inflicted upon them. “In the concentration camps, for example, in this living laboratory and on this testing ground, we watched and witnessed some of our comrades behave like swine while others behaved like saints. Man has both potentialities within himself; which one is actualized depends on decisions but not on conditions.”


Without a why it is difficult to find lasting meaning. Sure you can find day to day meaning but it’s one that shifts like the wind, blowing one way one day, another next. There is no anchor.

And how does one find purpose? By taking responsibility for one’s life which is difficult when your life is already charted out for you. But even then as Frankl said in his seminal book:  “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”


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