What You Need to Live a Life of Purpose

If I asked Sigmund Freud why we do the things we do, he’d say that our behavior is motivated by sex and aggression. I believe that on a completely primal level, he’s right. In the 1960s, neuroscientist Paul MacLean invented the Triune Brain Model which says you have three parts to your brain:

  • The reptilian (instinctual) part

  • The mammalian (emotional) part

  • The primate (thinking) part

The reptilian and mammalian parts of your brain are very basic in nature. The reptilian handles things like aggression and territory. The mammalian handles things like food and sex. So far we’re right on track with Freud’s theory. To read the fukk article go to TinyBuddha By Jacob Sokol

But now we come to the third—thinking—primate part of your brain. This is the part that’s focused on things like perception, planning, and handling complex concepts. This is the part of your brain that knows deep, deep down, you need meaning in your life!

Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian existential psychologist, created a school of thought called logotherapy. Unlike Freud, who said our main motives are sex and aggression, Frankl surmised that our dominant driving force is to find meaning in life.

You see, Frankl experienced something that Freud never had. In the 1940s, Frankl was held prisoner in Nazi concentration camps. Imagine this: You, your family, friends, and all your neighbors are all cornered, captured, and transported to mass murdering sites where you’re dehumanized and likely extinguished.

Frankl lived that reality. He felt the horror of losing everything only to be tortured and terrorized. With all the agony and brutality, what kept Frankl from giving up his relentless fight for his life?

It was purpose! He found meaning in his struggle, and that’s what gave him the power to push forward through unimaginable pain.

After escaping the concentration camps, Frankl published a book called Man’s Search for Meaning, which explores his experiences and includes an overview of logotherapy. A quote by Nietzsche nicely sums up his philosophy on how people were able to survive the camps, without losing the will to live:

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

That is the power of purpose. Torture, brutality, unimaginable inhumanity—purpose supersedes it all. Purpose is what gives us the strength to carry on, if not through dire conditions, then through difficult changes, transitions, relationships, and activities.

As Frankl wrote:

“In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

But be careful of getting stuck in suffering mode and mistaking it for nobility.” Frankl also wrote, “Suffering unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.”

Do you think it’s time you make some life altering decisions to stop any suffering and find a more meaningful life?

The Different Types of Purposes

Fortunately for us, we’re in much better situations than Frankl was, meaning we’re in a different boat with finding purpose. When living a practical life of purpose, we can see the picture on both a “micro” level and a “macro” level.

Your micro level purpose is to know your values, and then, be in integrity with them. When you know what you stand for, and do what you believe in, your confidence and sense of self-worth will be sky-high, regardless of how much the situation sucks.

But that’s only part of living on purpose.

Your macro level purpose is something different. It’s the big picture. It’s your search for meaning. It’s your ultimate goal. It’s waking up in the morning knowing you’re on the right path, regardless of what other people say.