We go to meaning mountain to find out the most meaningful work for us to do. I think of it like a mountain peak sticking out of the mist somewhere ahead of me. You can’t see the base, just the summit glittering in the sun.
How do we get there? How do you find Meaning Mountain?
Viktor Frankl, the author of Man's Search for Meaning and survivor of five years in nazi concentration camps, wrote: “Life asks us a question. Every moment you are alive you could say you are being asked a question- how you live is the answer.”
In any situation there are choices. Some have more meaning than others. By making these microdecisions you will be lead towards Meaning Mountain.
Paths of Purpose
Sometimes we are burdened by the idea that if only we could find the one true purpose of our lives then we would be a torrent of energy and efficiency and ensuing satisfaction. People spend their lives searching for “their real purpose”. Others deride them and say there is no such thing.
Actually there are many Paths of Purpose up Meaning Mountain- if you can forgive the alliteration.
Imagine you were born in very different circumstances- say in a tribe of headhunters on the Amazon river- your path of purpose would include activities very different though meaning mountain would be the same. You would get meaning from experiencing loving others, from experiencing wonder, from creativity and from taking a choice in your attitude to adversity. Meaning Mountain is UNIVERSAL. Paths of purpose are LOCAL, relative to you and your current situation.
There are various methods touted for finding “your one true purpose”. Some involve listing activities until you find one that makes you cry. Try it if you like- but the best result you will get will be only one of several potential paths of purpose.
Often it is best to take the one nearest, the one you have been trained for, the one that suits your talents and then run with it.
A path of purpose is simply there to get us up meaning mountain. Frankl was an academic and a writer- so his path of purpose was to write a book. A filmmaker might make a film.
Getting up the Mountain
Progress along a Path of Purpose leads to choices. Each choice has either a higher or lower meaning content. For example I may be studying to get a new trade. I can either coast along consuming the energy of the teacher and my classmates until I am qualified, or do my level best to produce energy and enthusiasm and be the best in the class. Life asks you a question- are you a parasite or a provider? It is more meaningful to be a provider since the ultimate destination of parasitism is doing nothing, non-existence, death.
Meaningful means exactly what it says: not useless, justifiable. We may be unconventional or conventional in how we justify what is meaningful to us.
Making things is more meaningful than breaking things.
Creation is better than destruction.
Celebration is better than condemnation.
Flow activities are better than activities that make you watch the clock
Humour is better than sourness.
Follow your Path of Purpose. Go to meaning mountain and find your meanings. Find what you like doing, what you think is worth doing- trust yourself, trust your dreams.