He was prisoner number 119,104 in a Nazi death camp. It was there that he found his calling. When Viktor Frankl, who had been a successful psychiatrist before the war, found himself reduced to focusing on the minutia of a daily struggle for survival, he had an epiphany. He realized that the few who would survive the unimaginably horrible conditions of the concentration camp were those who believed that their life had some purpose or meaning beyond their immediate struggle. Once he had developed a vision of himself in the future, revealing the atrocities of the Nazi regime, he was able to rise above his immediate suffering and focus his energy on living to tell the tale. In his classic book, Man's Search for Meaning, Frankl proposed that "There is nothing in the world that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is meaning in one's life. "
The authors of The Resilience Factor: Seven Keys to Finding Your Inner Strengths and Overcoming Life's Hurdles, conclude that those who have found a sense of purpose or meaning in their lives have more resilience than those who haven't. They tend to handle life crises with more grace. People who have no sense of purpose, however, often feel aimless and lost, and experience a vague sense of dissatisfaction, if not outright depression.
Frankl describes meaning in this way..."everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment". Some, Including Frankl, believe that the search for and fulfilment of our personal mission is the reason that each of us is alive. When we are on task with our mission, we experience a sense of purpose which creates a feeling of happiness at its most profound. Through meaning, we find our place in the world and experience our connection to life.
We often find meaning in the things that inspire us the most. We may have passion for a creative or artistic pursuit, for teaching, healing people or the environment, or for social activism. Many find meaning in relationships or caring for family.
What is your passion? What stirs your soul and makes you feel like you are in harmony with the reason you are here on earth? If you have not yet found your purpose, be patient. You don't have to create it, you only to discover it. The following questions may help you to think about what gives your life meaning:
-What brings me the greatest satisfaction?
-What do I feel drawn to, even though it may not make much logical sense?
-What activities engage me to the point that I lose track of time?
-When do I feel most fully alive?
-If my life were over tomorrow, what will I regret not having done?