Trevor is an addiction warrior. Growing up with a mother in recovery, he never imagined he would fall prey to the same disease that his parents had succumbed to. After all, who understood the consequences of addiction and the value of sobriety better than he? Yet, he still found himself helplessly lost to drugs and alcohol for years. After he hit rock bottom – homeless, jobless, kicked out of college, and without a penny to his name – he was able to open his heart to the help and hope his family so yearned to give him. After attending a rehab program and being surrounded by love and care, he was able to hit restart. Trevor found true purpose in and joy in his life, and the strength to change the course of his destiny.
As the new year begins, talk of change fills the air. Every advertisement, flyer and social media post is covered with mantras on how to create change in the upcoming year. Solutions, tricks, and tips on how to break habits are found everywhere. If only it were as easy as it seems! For most of us, once the new year fades, the resolutions disappear with it.
So, how exactly does one turn their life around?
The Power of Purpose
Viktor Frankl, in his famous Holocaust memoir Man’s Search for Meaning, wrote about the power of meaning in life. Finding a purpose in life enabled him to fight on through the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps until liberation. His purpose was to one day print his life’s work of research, and the hope to be reunited with his wife. In his book, he expanded on Nietzsche’s idea “One who has a why to live for can endure almost any how.”
Finding a purpose for which to live and fight was what carried him through the depths of horror to survival.
The Need for Purpose Now
We still feel the aftereffects of the historic Covid pandemic, and the future may seem uncertain. The rise in addiction, unemployment, and mental health issues since the pandemic does not paint a hopeful picture for society; it can lead to a loss of purpose or desire to try to live for something bigger than one’s circumstances. Surrounded by constant instability and unknown, it is imperative to find within oneself the strength to go on.
Like Trevor, to find purpose in life. To find a way to rise above surrounding circumstances.
Purpose and Health
“How to find meaning in life” is a question many philosophers have pondered. Some believed the answer lay in religion, others in giving to another. But regardless of the purpose, all have agreed that without purpose life is not considered worth living. Purpose dictates one’s sense of identity, responsibility, and – just recently discovered – physical health as well. Scientists have linked living with a sense of purpose to increased physical and mental health benefits. They found that those with a sense of purpose are 15% more likely to live longer than those without. Having a sense of purpose protects one against the harm of stress, which creates many health problems.
There is no overarching rule when it comes to finding purpose. There are those who appear to be at the pinnacle of success, yet their lack of purpose eats them up inside. For each person, meaning and purpose differs. The trick is not to search for purpose, but to focus on bringing meaning and intention into your life.
How You Can Add Purpose to Your Life
- Ask yourself: What qualities do you value most in yourself and others? Do you admire compassion, creativity, or ingenuity? Pick a quality that you admire and focus on one doing one practical action each day. If it is kindness you admire, choose one small act of kindness to do today. Focusing your attention on increasing these positive qualities can add fulfillment to your life.
- Find additional opportunities to notice the purpose already present in your life. When we grow into our routine lives, we often miss valuable opportunities to find purpose and meaning in what we are already doing. If we choose to pay attention to what we are already doing, we can train ourselves to find meaning and purpose in it.
- Take it slowly. We can easily get lost in an all-or-nothing approach, but the key to finding real purpose may be in learning to find meaning in the smaller things in life. If we look to improve in tiny baby steps today, it can add up to a radical change in the future.
The door to addiction is often opened from feelings of emptiness and despair. In the last year alone, over one hundred thousand Americans tragically lost their lives to drug overdoses. In the struggle to find purpose and meaning in life, it is common to turn to escape routes for relief. Quitting requires tremendous strength! Finding a sense of purpose, something bigger than oneself to live for, may be the key to surviving and thriving.
Like Trevor, it is possible to take control and transform your life – starting today.
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