In Man's Search for Meaning, author, and famed psychiatrist, Victor Frankl asserts that man's greatest need is to find meaning and purpose to his existence. During Frankl's time, the prevailing view of psychology was that human behavior was driven by either attempting to gain pleasure or avoid pain. Frank showed this was not the case. For what we find meaningful we will forgo pleasure or go through pain to obtain it. Furthermore, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche stated, "If you have a big enough why, you can bear almost any how."
Frankl also spoke about what he referred to as an existential vacuum in modern culture, or a lack of deeper meaning. When greater purpose is absent for us, we tend to fill this void with addictions, compulsive behaviors, sex, and violence. Think of a youth in the inner city who feels unworthy and insignificant. He joins a gang to be a part of something bigger than himself, which gives him purpose. Moreover, if I pull out a gun and point it at your head, I have become very significant to you.
Discover what you find purposeful
You see this everywhere on social media. People exposing their bodies in degrading ways or flashing cash and marijuana and guns on their pages to gain likes and followers to feel more important and worthy. But these substitutes will never lead to real happiness. At best, they can stimulate you for a time and then lead to an overwhelming sense of emptiness - fool's gold.
To be truly fulfilled and happy requires pursuing something meaningful. It is my belief each of us has been endowed with some level of gift to fulfill our purpose in the world. Attempting to chase happiness will lead further away from it. You will spend your life pursuing a series of mirages based on temporary pleasures. Happiness is the outcome of discovering what you find purpose in and dedicating your life to pursuing it.
Invest in things that possess deeper meaning
No one can choose this for you. It has to be discovered. However, you won't find it if your not looking for it. Don't waste valuable time chasing distractions, such as cash, substance use, compulsive sex, and empty material possessions. Invest in things with deeper meaning: relationships; creativity; and giving value to others in a variety of ways. Only through meaning and purpose will you achieve genuine happiness, joy, and significance.
John Hawkins Jr., M.S., L.M.H.C.
John has helped thousands of clients overcome the hidden internal blocks which had kept them from achieving their maximum potential. Furthermore, he has assisted them in gaining clarity of their true life purpose, identifying their gifts and talents, and developing lives of greater meaning and significance.