Millennials get a raw deal these days, being told they want too much because they want to do work that feels meaningful, to have time for relaxation and social lives, and to be treated as human beings. I say, don’t give up on that vision, y’all!
Because a sense of meaning and purpose is essential. It is at the core of motivation. At the heart of sustained effort. It can keep us alive when not much else can. Meaning can make the difference between quitting or relapsing. And it can change what feel like empty moments into something satisfying.
We need more meaningful activity in our lives, not less. It’s good for our mental health—and our productivity. We’re more likely to go the extra mile when it feels important.
There’s a little paperback that you may have encountered titled Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. In it, he talks about how this very idea of a sense of purpose pulled him through his years in a concentration camp during WWII. Here are a few lines:
Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.
For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment.
In fact, connecting our behavior with what’s really important to us is one of the six foundations of ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy). Like Frankl says, what we decide is important to us in any given moment can shift. Still, the very act of connecting with some sort of purpose, whether it’s to stay curious, to be kind, or to be honest, can fuel us. We can stand in the grocery checkout line in a curious way or a kind way…there’s always a chance to practice. Nothing external has to change. (Although it just might!)
Would you like some help figuring out how to make your life more meaningful? Let’s find a time to meet.