“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
–Viktor E. Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning
I can usually tell when unhappiness is creeping in. I’m focused on my problems and why things aren’t going my way. Even my kids problems or successes are a reflection on me.
Then I catch myself and remind myself what I’m doing it all for. The reasons I work, play and love in the first place. When I can keep my sense of purpose front and center the self absorption melts away. And I feel centered, happier and less broken down by fear and doubt.
Research shows people with sense of purpose live longer and are healthier and happier. It’s one of the cornerstones of well-being, a key aspect of health. It creates a spark for life that is “greater than self,” and it feels good.
But many of us may be missing this due to the pace and nature of modern life. And kids are no exception. According Stanford professor William Damon, kids may be at greater risk for self absorption than previous generations:
“Especially in these days of intense focus on individual performance and status, a real risk in the development of today’s young is self-absorption. For the sake of both their mental health and their character development, all young people need to hear the message “It’s not about you,” every now and then. Finding a purpose that contributes to the world beyond the self is a premier way of tuning in to that message.”
So this week, let’s be mindful of the small ways we can increase a sense of purpose into our life. How can we put more meaning in what we are already doing or plant new seeds of purpose for both ourselves and our children?