I really like it when two people who I admire and learn from appear in the same context …
The quotation by Viktor Frankl introduces chapter 6 of The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard J. Leider. The chapter goes on to explore the power of the stories we tell about ourselves and our lives, and focuses on the three ways named by Frankl as how we come to our stories.
How we come to our stories is how we identify and claim our purpose.
Doing Something ….
Doing something in this context includes two specific elements: Personal engagement and not keeping score, according to Leider. We can do a thing, but if we are doing it out of a sense of duty rather an emotional desire to fill a need, the thing we do may not help us clarify our purpose.
In similar fashion, something done in order to be seen as worthy or to up our “score” socially, may actually “reduce our sense of contentment” (Leider, p. 57) , rather than increase it.
I often do things, but am doing them in order to have others think better of me … this is a subtle form of keeping score. It’s what I do when nobody is watching that is important.
Experiencing a Value …
This one is more mysterious to me, since much of life is spent just living and making one’s way through each day, taking the triumphs and challenges that come our way, and not always devoting much time to considering our over-arching values.
Living our values requires us to relate to others in ways that enrich and support, ways that are genuine representations of how we think we ought to be. Leider succinctly captures this by reminding us that “Purpose is the value we choose to center our lives around – the way we orient ourselves toward life.” (Leider, p. 60)
Values are one of the essential elements of our Purpose … if we live them sincerely and consistently.
I have been spared the most difficult of life’s challenges so far, but we all endure suffering on some level. What appears important is how we deal with what we are dealt.
This, of course, is at the heart of Frankl’s life experiences and work, since he used his time as a prisoner in Nazi Germany during World War II to develop his theory of human development, including the point that we remain in control of our emotional and cognitive responses to events … an idea that is easy to support, but harder to internalize.
As has been the case throughout, much to reflect on in Leider’s work..
What are your experiences with any of these paths toward self-knowledge and a clearer sense of purpose?
Considering how I have been and how I want to be in the Heartland ….