It can be very easy to feel lost at times in life. There have been many times in my life when I truly wondered where I was, where I was heading, and whether it was all worth it. In the busyness of life, the confusion of societal messaging, and the demands that are placed on us from different directions, it can be difficult to know what to expect from life. If you are feeling lost, confused, or stressed right now, I would like to ask you to consider the question; what does life expect from you?
I am reading a book that I read every year or so, because it keeps me focused on living a life of purpose and meaning. That book is Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. It is a powerful book, written by an Austrian psychologist about his experiences incarcerated in concentration camps during WW2. Whilst he does talk about the inhumanity and brutality of the experience, he speaks a lot from a psychological point of view of the prisoners. It is a powerful, intriguing, paradigm-shifting, and captivating book.
He discusses, in detail, the varied ways that the prisoners coped with their experience, and how some survived, even thrived, whilst others languished and lost the will to live. As you may have gathered from the title of the book, it was those able to find some meaning in the madness, who made it through, whilst those who lost hope were the ones who gave up very early on. At one point in the book Viktor talks about the camp’s rule about suicide. Clearly, the Nazi’s placed no value on the lives of the prisoners, and therefore banned anyone from preventing suicide attempts.
In a hut where Viktor was existing at the time, several years into the incarceration, two prisoners, lying almost lifeless on their uncomfortable cots, both declared their intention to end their lives. In their minds they could see no other way to be free from the suffering they were personally experiencing. Both stated they had nothing more to expect from life. Viktor posed a simple question to them both; what is life expecting from you? That was a lifesaving question. The following text comes from the book:
We found, in fact, that for one it was his child whom he adored and who was waiting for him in a foreign country. For the other it was a thing, not a person. This man was a scientist and had written a series of books which still needed to be finished. His work could not be done by anyone else.
That one simple question not only moved them out of a suicidal mindset but got them focused on important things that gave their lives meaning and purpose. So, it’s now time in this blog where the spotlight shines on you. I would ask you to ponder this question for a few moments right now. No matter where you are in life, how you are feeling, or where you are heading, what is life expecting from you? What is your family needing? What impact do you want to have on the lives of others, based on what you have experienced in your own life? What is in your heart to do, knowing that it will bring incredible joy to yourself and others? What is the reason why you are here in human form for the time you get to spend on planet earth?
These may seem like some pretty heavy questions, and they are. They are also critical to answer clearly to help you move through the obstacles of life, and thrive with meaning. In my podcast this week I speak with Clay Boatright called Happiness is a choice. How does a man deal with twin daughters with severe autism and intellectual disability, and then lose his wife to cancer? The answer is found in the question, what is life expecting from me? As Clay asked himself the question, the answers came. It’s a wonderfully inspiring conversation I encourage you to listen to.
I know how easy it is to read a blog or a book and think, that was interesting, and I should really do something with this information, then go ahead and do nothing. I do it all the time.That is the way to an unfulfilled life, trust me. The key to joy, happiness, fulfilment, meaning, and purpose lies in your willingness to ask the right questions, and then act on the answers you get. The question I urge you to ask and then act on this week is what does life expect from you?