Human beings must develop meaning and purpose in life. We’re “meaning making machines” and can’t escape this task no matter how fast we run from it by distracting ourselves with a multitude of activities. In fact, psychologists would say without meaning and purpose human beings cannot thrive. Eric Maisel for example has done extensive work demonstrating the therapeutic value of using meaning and purpose to help clients with depression, anxiety, addictions, etc. In his book “The Vangogh Blues” Dr. Maisel demonstrates the power of creativity and how it can be used as a mechanism for creating meaning and purpose to overcome depression. Victor Frankl is a foundational figure regarding meaning making and psychological well-being and his work is seminal for understanding how important meaning making is. He developed an approach to helping people based on his experience as a survivor of the Nazi prison camps. Victor Frankl was a Jewish Psychiatrist imprisoned in the death camps like so many other Jews during the Nazi reign of WWII. While in the camps he noticed those surviving the atrocities were people capable of finding meaning and purpose in their suffering. Based on these experience Frankl developed a whole system of understanding human behavior and flourishing rooted in this motivation to find meaning and purpose. Frankl proposes motivation for meaning is a core aspect of being human and when one no longer finds meaning and purpose the individual degrades into a poor psychological state that can even lead to death.
If you still have doubts regarding the importance of belief in meaning and purpose than just consider this simple fact. If someone living a healthy life contracts a fatal disease like cancer, what’s the first thing you ask yourself? If a young child goes to school one day and the school is tragically attacked by a gunman killing this young boy or girl, what question immediately comes to your mind? Most of us ask the question “why?” We all want to know why this happened to people who seemingly were doing all the right things. This need to answer the question why is ingrained in our human condition. It’s perfect evidence that demonstrates our need to make meaning of life’s good and tragic experiences.
As all my readers know I like to write about how to live a flourishing life with passion, resilience, and purpose. I believe a key aspects for doing that is recognizing you’re a creature of belief needing to find meaning and purpose in your life. That means its important to take care of your spiritual life. You need to be intentional about understanding what you believe, why you believe it, how it motivates you, and how it impacts the meaning and purpose you place in life. Too many of us are walking around with an indifference toward spiritual things. Some of us have totally given up on the idea that spiritual things matter. Think about it this way; since you were created to breathe what would happen if you decided to just quit breathing or to breathe in whatever junk you wanted? How well would you thrive in life if you did that? Probably not too well. The same goes for your spiritual life. You need to care for it, be intentional about what you believe and how you practice these beliefs. You have to care about matters of faith because all these things feed into the meaning and purpose you develop around your life experiences.
Let me close this brief post with this proposition; if you have a faith life go and find out what that means. Really dig into your belief system and try and understand the meaning and purpose it provides in your life. If you don’t have one, start developing one. I’m a Christian, and my belief system impacts how I think of other people, why life matters and how it should be lived, and what my ultimate purpose is. The reason I want you to explore your belief system is because whether you know it or not, it shapes a great deal of your experience of reality. For me, I know I was created to give and receive love. I know I don’t do that well and neither do other people so we need to be forgiving. However, I believe by being connected to God I can be transformed to be an active agent of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the world. I believe God has blessed me with talents to use for the purpose of love, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. My belief system challenges me to be an active agent of love, even when that’s the most difficult thing to do. In the end, my belief system shapes my world and gives me a sense of purpose so when I lay my head down for the last time on this planet I will do so knowing I did what I was created to do.
If you want a life of passion, purpose, and resilience recognize you were created to believe in transcendent and meaningful things. Then, fill your mind with those meaningful beliefs and live them out. And if you interested in how Christianity can help you with that, just ask me, I love to talk about what energizes me everyday!