This underpins how I view life generally as an existential therapist. Living with purpose.
It was John F. Kennedy that said “efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”. But there have been dozens of philosophers, leaders and students of living well who have spoken about this. The simple truth is that if we can find our own, personal ‘why’, our lives become more engaging, exciting and we can lose ourselves (in a good way) in our passion or purpose.
Under ‘books I love’ I mention ‘Ikigai’ – the Japanese formula for living with wellbeing. The Japanese live long, healthy and fulfilled lives by and large and their ‘Ikigai’ combines many elements. One of these elements is purpose, and finding the things in life that get us into a state of ‘flow’ – meaning ‘losing time’. This is an endeavour or activity that, when we are doing it makes us feel connected, engaged and alive.
So many of us still need to figure this out, and it may be not be obvious. If you’re someone who has felt passionate about something in your life then you’re on the right path already. Are you passionate about telling your story? Helping others? Bringing awareness to a cause that’s close to your heart? Whether your passion lies in writing, creating, educating or learning the fact is that if you feel passionate and purposeful you are on the right path to living well.
Have you ever had an emotional reaction to something that you saw, heard or experienced? Ever enjoyed anything so much that you forgot to eat, or pushed through your tiredness in order to keep doing it? What was that thing? What was that emotional reaction about? Have a think, reflect, remember. Start small, plan, research, work out how you might re-engage with it. If you’ve never experienced it, then try new things. When we live with purpose we are excited to get up in the morning. As Thomas Carlyle said: “The person without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.”