"He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How" is a quote attributed to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and was later used by the psychiatrist Viktor Frankl throughout his book, Man's Search for Meaning. The quote encourages us to center our lives around something that is meaningful as this is shown to lessen our anxieties about the future and improve mood disorders in the present.
Man's Search for Meaning chronicles Frankl's experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps during World War II and describes the psychotherapeutic method he used to help concentration camp prisoners find meaning through one of three ways: the completion of tasks, caring for another person, and facing suffering with dignity.
Today, and especially in American culture, we tend to think of our purpose as something grand, related to our innate gifts or talents, and in this way, having a purpose and the pursuit of it is centered around making money or making a living. But for Frankl, having a purpose was more of a healthy coping mechanism. We can take a similar approach in how we find and use purpose, i.e., as a therapeutic tool in our treatment of various mental health conditions.
What matters most is not the grandeur or scale of your purpose but that it's meaningful to you, gives your life direction, and can potentially change your perspective about a mental health condition you live with.
Seeing the world and exploring different cultures.
Fighting for a social cause like climate change.
Being the best architect, cook, or role model for a child.
Creating entrepreneurial opportunities for women around the world.
Beating anxiety and being a mental health advocate.
In this article, we will look at how having a purpose can benefit us psychologically and why you want to find some for yourself.
1. Having a Purpose Provides Meaning and Direction
Having a purpose puts fire in our bellies. It gives us a reason to get up in the morning and motivates us to work towards our goals. When we have a purpose, we have a clear focus and know what we want to achieve. This provides us with a sense of direction and helps us make choices that align with our values and aspirations.
2. Increases Motivation and Drive
When we have a purpose, we are more motivated and driven to succeed. Having a clear goal in mind gives us something to strive for and keeps us focused on our efforts. It provides us with a sense of urgency and ignites our passion, which in turn fuels our motivation and determination to achieve our purpose.
3. Boosts Resilience and Overcomes Challenges
Having a purpose can make us more resilient and better equipped to overcome challenges and setbacks. When faced with obstacles, individuals with a strong sense of purpose are more likely to persevere and find solutions. A purpose acts as a source of inspiration and strength during difficult times and helps us navigate through adversity with resilience and determination.
4. Enhances Self-Esteem and Well-Being
Having a purpose can significantly enhance our self-esteem and overall well-being. When we are aligned with our purpose, we feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. We derive a sense of pride from knowing that we are making a difference in the world or contributing to something greater than ourselves. This boost in self-esteem positively impacts our mental health and overall well-being.
5. Fosters Personal Growth and Development
Having a purpose creates opportunities for personal growth and development. It pushes us to explore new areas, acquire new skills, and expand our knowledge. Pursuing our purpose often involves stepping out of our comfort zones and taking risks, which in turn leads to personal growth and self-improvement. It allows us to discover our full potential and become the best version of ourselves.
6. Healthier Habits, Naturally
Having a purpose helps us take our health more seriously. Studies show that those who have a purpose have healthier habits leading to lower incidences of chronic illness, less chronic pain, lower incidence of depression, and higher functional fitness. Good sleep hygiene, stress management and other healthy behaviors are more common too. You could say that having a life purpose makes you want to take better care of your health so you can accomplish your desired mission.
If you are currently searching for a sense of purpose, take the time to reflect on your passions, values, and strengths. Find what truly inspires you and gives your life meaning. If you're working with me one-on-one, bring this up during our sessions for help from me.
Tips to help you find your purpose
Develop a growth mindset.
Create a personal vision statement.
Find your tribe and your place in it.
Turn your pain into purpose.
Explore your passions.
Recall what brought you joy as a child.
Spend time with people who inspire you.
Read biographies of people who interest you.
Start a lifetime project as Stephen Duneier did.
Create a Wall of 5 (Shortlist of people you admire).
Join classes offered by Vurb Wellness (Subscription required).