I Cared Less When I Found Purpose


I Cared Less When I Found Purpose

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I’m a recovering control freak.  I used to control everything.  I damaged or ruined relationships, because of my attitude.  I recently viewed some family home videos with my wife, Alia.  I was embarrassed by how I controlled the environment around me.  I watched in horror and disgust as I proceeded to order and control everyone and everything.  As I reflect on my attitude back then, I wish I could go back in time and just slap myself and tell myself to “pull it together, man!”

Yes, I was truly controlling, and I’m so grateful that Alia tolerated me and waited patiently for me to grow up and get a grip on my life.  I’ve calmed down a lot the past 20 years.  I don’t get overly excited and I’m comfortable in my own skin.  In fact, I’m quite happy.  So, what changed in my life?  I found purpose.

Back when Alia and I were married, I had no purpose.  I was just a young, ambitious kid, trying to find my place in the world.  I was frustrated and searching for meaning, and until I found my way, I sought control.  Basically, I was generally unpleasant to be around for long periods.

We’re all born with an energy inside us that must be tamed with a purpose, a reason for living.  If you’re frustrated, irritable, and lack peace in your life, then most likely you lack purpose.  It’s quite common to live a life with no purpose.  We’re hard wired to pursue life. If we lack purpose then we seek pleasure, suffering, or some other vice that fills the space in our soul that is meant for purpose.  As soon as a person stops seeking purpose and pursuing something of value, they die.

Victor Frankl, survivor of four WWII Nazi death camps, describes a phenomenon with prisoners that gave up on life, in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”.  He described the prisoners who stopped pursuing life.  He notes that those prisoners just woke up one morning and refused to get up and face the day.  They would lay in their cots with a blank stare.  Frankl observed that they usually died within 48 hours.  They literally let go of life, because they lost a purpose for living.

When we can’t control our life because we have no purpose, then we control everything else around us.  That’s what happened to me.  I controlled my environment, which included my wife, kids, extended family, friends, and colleagues.  I was a miserable person until I found my purpose.  So, what changed?  How did I find purpose?  I followed these principles:

  1. I didn’t give up. I never stopped searching for my purpose.  I knew I had purpose, I just had to discover it.
  2. I read a lot. I filled my mind with good reading material until I began to connect with the words that made sense and began to speak to my soul.
  3. I pursued mentorship. I found people I respected, people that were successful, peaceful, and happy.  I asked questions, I evaluated their lives, and I learned from them.  Most important, I listened to them and took their advice.
  4. I pursued God. There simply is no peace without the Lord.  It’s a truth that cannot be denied.  I pursued God through reading, prayer, and humility.  I stopped trying so hard and allowed Him to influence my life.  I found that when I gave up control to God, that my life began to make sense and clarity found me.

Are you frustrated?  Miserable?  Are you controlling?  It’s not healthy to lead such a life and will eventually destroy you and your family.  We’re meant to pursue life, but most important, we’re meant to pursue a purpose.  If you have no purpose, acknowledge it and then go find it, you’ll eventually discover it, just don’t give up!

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2 comments

  1. It’s so interesting that you cited Frankl, because I’ve been reading (on Audio CD) “Man’s Search for Meaning” for the last couple of weeks! I often rewind and re-listen to key phrases and paragraphs. Just yesterday I committed to memory “Live as if you are living already for the second time. Act as if you had acted already as wrongly as you are about to act now.” Brilliant! It’s a great way to navigate those moments of uncertainty or laziness that often serve as obstacles to me on my path.
    I was just thinking on my way to work this morning how enjoyable it is to live life with purpose. Although I never really felt like a “control freak” (outside my own headspace, that is), I often look back at various stages of my life and remember how uncomfortable I was when I wasn’t working on a specific project or engaged in a certain activity. Now, I could keep going without ever stopping and still not accomplish all I want to get done, but it gets easier and easier to make decisions, because I can evaluate how effectively each decision contributes to my larger purpose. There’s a lot less discomfort in the day-to-day moments, because the anticipated future is so much more certain than the vague way it often used to be!
    Keep up the good work, and thanks for writing!

    Reply
    1. Hey Robb, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I too listened to Frankl on audio, it’s so more efficient for me to consume content that way. If you’re going to be out of your comfort zone, you might as well be doing inside your purpose, so good for you!

      Reply

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