A Different Kind of Relationship | Finding a Purpose-Filled Life
Victor Frankl, psychiatrist and famous author, wrote, “He who has a why can bear any how.” The “how” is the way we go about living our lives and achieving our goals.
The “why” in our lives can give us purpose; it can give us power and drive beyond our individual abilities. By connecting to some kind of purpose greater than ourselves, some ideal that extends beyond our individual wants and needs, we gain a resiliency to setbacks and obstacles that we are unable to muster when our perspective is limited to only our own experience.
Andrew Shatte, PhD., describes the “why” in four levels:
Individual goals. This is the most basic level, where you are focused on what you have or want to have, such as a job or a standard of living, for the happiness and contentment it gives you and you alone. This is the entry point to finding a why. This is where many people stop! Unfortunately, stopping at the first level does not give the kind of fulfillment or purpose that most of us are seeking from life. So we have to move to level 2!
Family. This level extends the circle of your “why” to the people you consider closest to you. This is usually family and close friends. Goals on this level include being a good example for your children, providing for your family, etc. This is our first taste of moving our “why” beyond ourselves and this alone brings a new sense of purpose to many people’s lives. But we can still move deeper in our connections by looking to level 3.
Community. At this level, you are more connected to the world around you. Your goals are to benefit the city, town, or even global community in which you live. At this point our “why” starts to encompass more than just the people that we come into direct contact with. Having an involvement in our community and the larger world that we live in can motivate us to get involved in a variety of causes and organizations. Many find themselves connecting on this level through various types of community service and other forms of giving. Ultimately though, there is still another level.
Religion, spirituality, values. If you feel connected to something larger than yourself, you’re driven by the very highest level of achievement, whether that means by God, spirituality, or a set of values you live by. In short, something that will outlast and outlive you. Connecting to a purpose on this level gives us the most profound sense of direction and guidance in our lives. It also motivates us to move forward in ways that we can often not achieve with the other levels of “why”. There are many ways that we each connect with this level of “why” and it takes on many shapes. The bottom line is that those of us who have found this level of purpose generally live fulfilled, purposeful and impactful lives!
The higher the level, the more we connect with something outside of ourselves, the broader our perspective, the more resiliency we can call upon to achieve our goals. By becoming a part of an integrated whole, we are granted passion and drive that can push us way past our normal limits. We can accomplish things beyond the average scope of everyday experience, things that survive long after we are gone.
This is a different kind of relationship, but one that is infinitely more rewarding than just focusing on ourselves.