I Cared Less When I Found Purpose
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:
- I didn’t give up. I never stopped searching for my purpose. I knew I had purpose, I just had to discover it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!