What’s Missing In your Life? Clarity and Purpose?
One of the most inspiring stories I know is that of Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist and author of “Man’s Search for Meaning.” I feel fortunate that my high school AP Psychology class once went to hear this amazing man who spent years in concentration camps. During that time he observed that the people who tended to survive were not necessarily those one might have expected. More than a function of physical strength, intelligence, beauty, connections, education level or social class, survival seemed to be associated with a sense of meaning. Those with a sense of clarity and purpose were the ones who managed to make it in that most inhuman and unimaginably challenging situation.
In Frankl’s own words: “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him…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.”
By now hopefully we have all realized that money can’t buy happiness, that no amount of sex can fulfill us and that no one else is going to make us happy. Fulfillment comes from giving expression to our soul’s deepest desires. It arises from having a sense of clarity and purpose, a deeply personal process of self-discovery and self-expression: Who are we? What are we about? What gives us joy, evokes our passion, makes time stop?
In Soulful Purpose retreats I often pose this question: Imagine that you got an email from the Mothership advising you that you were being picked up in two years. During the first you get all the sensual stuff out of the way, max out on traveling, complete your bucket list, spend quality time with all your loved ones. What then? What would you do the second year? What legacy would you want to leave behind? Oh, and finances are handled, so the choice can be made free from survival considerations.
How aware are you of, and to what degree are you expressing, your life’s clarity and purpose, your soul’s calling?