But what if humans, as a species, actually have a purpose? What if we have something distinctive to contribute – something to give rather than just take?
~ Peter Senge
Are we starting to take seriously why we exist?
While I have been aware since the late 80’s of a steady public interest in the existential subject of meaning (as in “What is the meaning of life?”), I am delighted to notice an increased curiosity. I notice more books, research, and discussions (as in LinkedIn, for instance) on the topic. I have also noticed more consultants and practitioners paying attention to meaning and purpose, either by inquiring or by taking an active role helping themselves and others find meaning and purpose in life.
Regardless of the reasons behind this resurging interest, it is a good sign. There are significant reasons why we all should be concerned with meaning and purpose. The science of Logoteleology (meaningful purpose psychology) studies and highlights how meanings are a driving force to:
- Deepen self-understanding
- Help you understand situations, others and their behaviors. Including why stubborn people problems are not resolved.
- Enhance self-regulation or self-control. Meanings help you to overcome obstacles and to achieve your goals.
- Improve performance
- Appreciate and follow what is meaningful and to reject what is meaningless in life
- Enhance the quality of decision making and choice selection
- Improve and clarify self-definition, as well as personal and professional branding. Well thought meanings can strengthen identities.
- Infuse life with purposeful gusto. Life gains vitality through the meaningful.
- Relate and collaborate with others with greater insight and appreciation
- Increase team and organizational engagement, commitment, and profit
These and other benefits are and have been available as low-hanging fruit for many years. It is surprising to me that we — as a species — just do not grab the opportunity. It is to me, like leaving money on the table.
I started this post with the question: “Are we starting to take seriously why we exist?” You see, as a logoteleologist I research (among other fascinating topics) why, despite answers being available, humans’ most significant existential problems persist. If interested, you can find my conclusions in my first book, The Path to a Meaningful Purpose: Psychological Foundations of Logoteleology. I will, however, (after much research and pouring over countless empirical psychological studies), share a quote from my book that – to me – explains why we face such difficult challenges:
“I also believe that at the heart of humanity’s inability to solve its fundamental problems lies a lack of understanding of who we are and what we are here for. As a species, we suffer from an identity crisis.”
How else could one explain the stubborn savagery of war, terrorism and crime, the persistent global problem of employee apathy and disengagement, the scourge of governmental and organizational corruption and waste; the disregard toward our planet’s ecology, and the ever present social problems such as poverty, inequality, divorce — and disrespect toward minorities, women and children, as seen in human trafficking?
Should we be then surprised with the conclusion of the 2013 World Happiness report?
We increasingly understand that we need a very different model of humanity,….
The Boston Institute for Meaningful Purpose is proud to contribute to that different model of humanity. Logoteleology (and as its pioneer, I) reject the notion that as a species we need to live a substandard life. There are solutions to our most pressing problems; personal, social, and organizational. But it will require overcoming failure and mediocrity as an acceptable standard and as part of our “reality”. It will require making being humane fashionable, rather than labeling it a buffoonish or “touchy-feely”. It also calls for a realization that profit and being civilized are not incompatible propositions. It too means that the meaning we give to one another can bring our best, and when we do not — to realize that it brings our worst — turning us one against another.
Awakening the meaning of our life is the key to individual, group, social and organizational success. Meanings can imbue us with a noble purpose aligned and fit to support all the roles we play in life, be it personal or professional. And these roles do so when we commit to act meaningfully — allowing and encouraging others to fulfill their potential, as well as bringing one another’s best through genuine and competent cooperation and transcendence. Awakening the meaning of our life gives us an inspiring reason to experience a rich and exciting existence. The option, the meaningless, has not, does not, and will not work. So why follow it?
By the way, what about you? Do you know why you exist? Do you know what the meaning of your life is? Do you live an exciting and abundant meaningful life?