With every new day that goes past, with every different person I speak to and with every fresh insight I learn, I am more and more convinced of one true and undeniable certainty in life. That is; nothing moves in the direction we really want, without a purpose. I speak about this often, and I talk about how important finding your purpose is, but I really want to bear down on it this week, to help you get into action and start the journey of finding and following your true purpose in life. I think too many people see the concept of purpose as one too ethereal to take seriously. It does sound a little woo-woo. I understand, and for many people, life is just too full, hectic and busy with the urgent things that they don’t have time to worry about something so ‘childish’. Well, let me tell you in no uncertain terms; nothing great – and I mean nothing great – will happen in your life until you find your purpose.
Last Saturday, I had the absolute pleasure and privilege of speaking at a men’s event, called ‘Stuck?’, alongside two incredibly accomplished speakers, and, men in life; Dr Allan Meyer and Dr Adrian Turner. Yes, both with PHD’s! I was last to speak and after following these two champions, which was by no means easy, I had to state the obvious. I said; ‘I apologise that I am not a doctor. But I once went to a doctor, and, my goal in life is to never need to go to a doctor!’ That broke the ice and off I went. It has nothing to do with this week’s message, but again, I’m just breaking the ice!
Between the three of us, we covered the areas of; spiritual, relational, mental and physical wellbeing. Allan started the program, and spent much of the time talking about purpose, and his amazing session reinforced to me the undeniable necessity, if living an amazing life is your goal, of identifying your purpose. He had some wonderful perspective and spoke a lot about the erroneous belief of many people, largely men, that pleasure and happiness are the same thing. He said that the constant pursuit of pleasure is what destroys many people. When we experience pleasure, we get a hit of the ‘happy hormone’ dopamine, resulting in feelings of well-being. This obviously drives pleasure-seeking behaviour to experience more of the same feelings. The problem, as Dr Meyer explained, is that the more pleasure we seek, the more addicted we get, and the more dopamine is released. The more the dopamine receptors work, the smaller they become, so the more the addiction is compounded to keep any dopamine coming.
The potential end result of this futile pursuit of pleasure is a serious addiction to drugs, porn, gambling, and, incredibly anti-social and inappropriate behaviour. This destroys health, relationships, bank accounts and lives. So, then, the goal is not to seek pleasure, but to identify and live your purpose.
Go for purpose, not pleasure!
The key is to find your purpose, so, off you go!! Well, we all know that is not necessarily an easy thing to do… or is it? The mistake many people make is thinking that their purpose needs to be some kind of earth-shattering, world-changing, life-altering passion that seems to many people to be too far out of their current reach. I thought that same thing, and I struggled for a long time identifying my own purpose in life. In fact, many people feel so overwhelmed with this idea of purpose identification and pursuit that it can actually have a negative and reverse effect on them, and, be the reason they may lose hope, then, spiral into fear, anxiety, depression and even feelings of wanting to end it all.
Dr Meyer, last Saturday, spoke about a man I have spoken about before, Dr Viktor Frankl, author of the book, A Man’s Search for Meaning. Dr Frankl was an Austrian-Jewish psychologist, and during the second world war, was captured by the Nazi’s and spent 4 years in concentration camps. He described how every single pleasure was stripped from the prisoners and only pain and suffering replaced it. The only prisoners who endured the torture were the ones who could find meaning in their lives that wasn’t attached to pleasure, and, those who couldn’t, would not survive. He depicted the example of one prisoner, who had it in his mind that liberation would happen on a certain date, and, when it didn’t, he was dead within 24 hours.
After his own liberation, Dr Frankl went back to practicing psychology, and became much more equipped and prepared to help people with the most severe mental and emotional issues. He would always work to help them identify their purpose and meaning in life. Many people who came through his office would hopelessly explain their desire to end their own lives. Dr Frankl used a very simple method to help these people find hope and identify their purpose. After a patient admitted the thoughts of suicide, he would come straight out and ask, ‘So, why haven’t you done it?’ After the initial shock of the question had been accepted, the answer would come. Some said it was because of their children, others because of ageing parents and others explained different things that had prevented them from actually following through on their attempts.
The reason these people had not committed suicide was the foundation of their purpose in life, and from there, he was able to build on and work with these people to help them through their issues to become happy, loving and functioning members of society. As you can imagine, while Dr Meyer was talking about this, I was spellbound. I hope this has intrigued you and maybe even prompted you to stop, reflect and truly identify what is most important in your life. When you do, things will start to make sense, and, everything will flow in the direction of love, health, happiness and abundance.
How can this relate to you? I certainly hope you are not feeling as hopeless and helpless as the people Dr Frankl had to work with. I also hope you have been able to identify what your purpose is. If you haven’t, I urge you to spend some time reflecting on the following questions. What or who is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? What or who is it that gets you to do things that you really don’t want to do? What or who is it that you would give up certain things or sacrifice yourself for? When you can answer these questions, you are on the right path to identify your purpose in life.
I drone on about this stuff all the time, for one and only one reason, it is the only thing that matters in life. Everything you are struggling with, at the moment, will be cured when you identify your purpose. Everything you are stuck on right now, will start moving again when you identify your purpose. You will start making better choices regarding your health & wellbeing, your relationships will improve, your work will become more meaningful and your bank account will start to grow. Yes, my friend, just know; nothing moves without purpose!