“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why” – William Barclay
Ever encountered boredom? I’m sure you have (Who hasn’t these days?). If you’re experiencing this emotional state often, then you’re probably looking for ways to escape this feeling. Am I right?
Boredom is definitely one of the worst feelings you can have. And it’s becoming a downright trend these days! It’s unbelievable how many people are bored out of their minds these days and want to; be entertained, feel excited, feel good and whatnot.
And by doing so they choose the fastest way of getting there; Sedation or stimulation. By this they’re able to escape from the real problem (lack of direction) and are able to avoid the consequences (for a while at least)
What if I told you that boredom, depression and addictions are your fault?
Video Blog On Finding Your Purpose
Lack Of Purpose
Join the ranks of millions of people on facebook who feel exactly the same way (the newsfeed is crowded with people who are bored these days, especially during summer break)
I’ve noticed this rising trend myself whilst I was addicted to video games, engaged in a dependent relationship and during school back in late 2013. Yet, all these things are the cause of only one single problem.
All the negative emotions you feel; depression, confusion, brain-fog, boredom, apathy, social alienation, aggression and addictions are all symptoms of the same cause;
The existential vacuüm
The existential vacuüm is basically a feeling of emptiness, confusion and lack of direction in your life. Something I (and many others) have been struggling with for a looooong time.
So, how come we’re experiencing this feeling?
Cause & Effect
The existential vacuüm was created by the current absence of traditions and instinct.
What do I mean by this?
Most of us live in a rather wealthy country (if you can read this blog you are part of the 34.3% of people that has actual access to the internet).
Therefore I can conclude that all of our basic needs have become mostly fulfilled (shelter, sleep & nutrition). By doing so we’ve become detached from direction since our instincts are no longer telling us what to do in order to survive (Survival is pretty much guaranteed) and traditions (religious, ethnic, familial, rites of passage,…) no longer buttress our behavior .
Therefore we just fall into this huge pit of emptiness. Which we happily fill with addictions, indulgence, pass-time and whatnot. Or even worse; We stop thinking for ourselves and fall into conformism (doing what others are doing) or totalitarianism (doing what others tell you to do)
I’ve actually written another post on this topic called “Have A Life Worth Living! (Walk The Narrow Road)”
Why Is Lack Of Purpose A Problem?
I’ve recently been reading “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl who described his hardships in Nazi death camp during WWII and explains how critical it is for any man to finding his purpose.
A higher purpose is the primary motivator in your life, a reason to stay engaged in life. Without it you’re just a leaf blowing in the wind and you’ll just crumble away to the storms of life.
A great passage from the book explains how purpose can push us trough the most difficult of times, how loss of hope mean a loss of life;
This really shows us how valuable finding your purpose in life actually is. Hope for better circumstances, a person you love, an action that needs completion, a reason why your are alive is essential in fighting trough difficult circumstances. Maybe not the intense suffering Viktor Frankl went trough but I’m sure there are other daily struggles you have to deal with.
Without this primary motivator we fall into a state of decay (vegetating as I like to call it). Without purpose, we lose life.
Lack of purpose is actually the main cause of boredom, addiction, depression, agression and even suicide. Purpose these days is being replaced by the will to experience pleasure (escapism) or the will to acquire power.
How Do We Solve This Problem?
Finding your purpose!
In 1943, Abraham Maslow (American psychologist) proposed a theory on human needs which is demonstrated by the pyramid displayed under this paragraph. In my opinion it gives you a clear image of what you need to pursue in order to live a meaningful life.
Whenever your “basic needs” are fulfilled, you should start to look for the next layer of needs in order to reach your “full potential” (This goes by many names; self-actualization, creating yourself, becoming the strongest version of yourself, becoming enlightened, ….)
The reason why we skip on these “higher” needs is simply because we don’t know about them or the fact that it actually takes effort to “climb up” this pyramid.
Convinced enough on the importance of finding your purpose?
Finding Your Purpose
Alright to prevent you from this state of decay you’ve probably asked yourself how you can start finding your purpose in life?
Life in itself is meaningless (or that’s what I believe at least). Man gives it meaning by choosing his own purpose in life. So you’ll have to choose for yourself the highest contribution you can make to yourself and society. So now it’s time to actually start defining for yourself what your reason is to get out of your bed each day and face the struggles of life.
Viktor Frankl explains how purpose can be found in three things;
#1) By Creating A Work Or Doing A Deed
This one is quite obvious (IMO). Create a work that’s “bigger than yourself”. I don’t mean this in the literal sense but in the sense that your work will have a profound impact on people in the years to come.
Viktor Frankl wrote “Mans search for meaning” and it impacts (and will impact in the future) readers long after his death
#2) By Experiencing Something Or Encountering Someone
This one is a bit more abstract but still do-able. Purpose can be found by experiencing something
– basic goodness (morality, kindness,…) , truth (faith, ideologies,…) and beauty (nature, culture, …) and find there calling in this.
Purpose can also be found by encountering someone and find reason to live in love for someone else.
– Dying for the ones you love
#3) By The Attitude We Take Towards Unavoidable Suffering
The third way by which you can find meaning in your life is trough suffering. It’s not the path I would recommend but sometimes it is unavoidable. For example when you get terminally ill, become handicapped or suffer emotional/physical in other ways.
Allow me to cite another clear passage out of the book to accompany this statement;
So in finding your purpose it’s essential to start to ask yourself the question; What’s my highest purpose in life?
- Why do I want to get out of my bed everyday?
- Who do I want to live for?
- What do I want to live for?
- Why do I want to go trough these struggles of life?
- Why do I want to be alive?
- What is the most meaningful work I can do?
Find yourself a nice, quiet place where you’re alone, then take out a piece of paper or open a word document on your computer and schedule for yourself about an hour or so to write each possible answer down. Find the answer that gives you a strong – emotional reaction (maybe even cry)
Be sure to combine your natural skills and interests to create the best combination possible.
Purpose is like I said the primary motivator for why you are alive. Motivation is inseparable from strong emotions. When you get closer to the emotional reaction you’re looking for, you’ll know you’re searching in the right direction.
I know it sounds stupid if you’ve never thought about it in this way and you might even throw arguments at me that “real man don’t cry”, “emotion is for weaklings” and whatnot. Let it be that way than. But do it anyway, no-one has to know (and why do you care about the judgment of others in the fist place?)
Anyway, in the end you’ll have more to win than to lose. This might be the single most important thing you do in your life
You can go on for 50, 100 or even a thousand different answers to this fundamental question. If you’re in a depression you can even start with answer like;
- Life is meaningless
- I’m worthless
- F**k this stupid purpose stuff
The most essential thing is that you persist trough this primary layer of resistance in other to peel away the layers that will lead you to the answer (like an onion). People have build emotional walls around themselves and are so out of touch with their own emotions that they live in an apathetic (read: plant/zombie-mode) state. It’s critical you take these down (if only for a moment) to get back in touch with your inner self.
Purpose is self-defined and unique to everyone. A great post that has helped me in finding my purpose a while back was a blogpost called “How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes” by Steve Pavlina. I really recommend reading it.
What If You Can’t Find It?
It’s OK that you haven’t found meaning in your life. It’s not set in stone and varies over the years. So stop beating yourself up for not knowing your “life’s purpose”: that one thing that would make everything “perfect”.
It just doesn’t exist.
Purpose is not an event but a process that evolves trough trial and error. If you haven’t yet found meaning in your life, just choose one thing that seems important for now.
Mark Manson wrote a great article about this;
Sam Keen said it best;
“There is no easy formula for determining right and wrong livelihood, but it is essential to keep the question alive”
Don’t stress about it
Just experiment, adjust and re-define.
Realize your life is finite and the value that finding your purpose adds to the quality of your life. Be responsible and choose a life that is worth living by creating yourself into the person that you want to be. This ensures a happy, fulfilling life (my definition of success)
Become an optimist who sees the value in being alive. Someone who lives for what the remarkable future might hold instead of being depressed by the amount of shrinking days you have left. The past is never lost but irrevocably stored.
Try to face the resistance by breaking down the emotional walls you’ve built for yourself and really start to re-connect to what it is that is actually important to you. The things you find meaningful.
A great maxim I want to leave you with is the following;
“Live as if you were living for the 2nd time (reincarnation) and had acted as wrongly the 1st time as you are about to act now.”
If you feel like this post can help anyone out that you know, feel free to share it with your friends or send it in a mail to your mom! It helps me out a lot! If you’re having any thoughts or questions on this topic, feel free to share those with me in the comment section below.