Meaning in Life Questionnaire
The “Will to Meaning” or desire to find meaning in life is, according to the late Viktor Frankl, essential and necessary for human happiness. Frankl was the founder of the existential therapy known as Logotherapy. In short, a human life is incomplete without meaning. No matter what else a person has going on in their life – money, fame, power – without a deeper meaning or purpose there will be a sense of emptiness, lack of direction and often feelings of depression, anxiety and despair. Humans are meant to find a purpose to their lives. Mid-life crises, existential crises, a sense that something is “missing”, feelings of emptiness, etc. all of these are clues that a purpose feels that they have no value. Sometimes, we bury these feelings and thoughts. We distract ourselves with “busy-ness” or perhaps drugs and alcohol. Young people especially do not think too deeply about their purpose and meaning because they are building a life and working on starting a career or family. They are out with friends socializing, drinking and pursuing things wherever their ambition takes them. But eventually, it catches up with us.
So, how do you determine whether your life has meaning. Of course, you may not believe that a life needs to have meaning or purpose. I respectfully disagree. But, to each his own. I you agree that meaning and purpose if an essential element of human life and a drive and desire we all possess, then it is imperative we determine if our lives do have meaning. Let’s begin.
- Does your life have meaning?
- How does it have meaning?
- What are you doing that gives your life purpose?
- What specifically about what you are doing is purposeful, valuable and meaningful?
- Is it inherently meaningful (such as being a doctor) or are you reading some meaning into it?
Let me illustrate with some examples:
If you are an actor or model, then what about being an actor or model is meaningful? How does acting and modeling contribute to the world? What specifically about acting and modeling makes the world a better place? You pretend for a living or pose for a living. How is that important and meaningful?
If you are an athlete, then what about playing baseball, football and basketball is meaningful? How does that make the world a better place? What value does it have? If there were no sports would the world continue to function well?
If you are a pop star or celebrity, then what about what you do is meaningful. What is so important about it? What deeper purpose and contribution to the world do you feel by doing it?
How does being a chef, a widget-maker, a launderer, a cab driver, a small business owner, etc. provide you with a deep meaning and purpose?
Contrast that with: How does being a doctor make the world a better place. How is being a doctor meaningful? What is important about medical professionals?
How does being a teacher contribute to the world? What value does teaching provide? How does education make the world a better place?
How do mental health professionals provide value? Is that a meaningful and worthwhile profession? Why?
How about child care workers, elder care professionals, police officers, firefighters, ambulance workers, etc. You see the difference?
Some jobs seem to have an inherent meaning, purpose and value. Others are not as obvious. Some people volunteer for charities when their main vocation does not provide sufficient importance, value or meaning. I believe that finding that meaning is essential. If your job, career or vocation does not provide meaning and purpose then you need to look elsewhere. But definitely look! Having a lack of purpose, meaning and value in life is soul-killing. It can ruin a life that in many ways, at least superficially, is quite good. But if we have a “will to meaning” then nothing short of finding a deeper meaning or purpose for our lives with do. There is no substitute. Find your meaning. You, and the rest of the world, will be better off for it.