A Few Thoughts About Living With Purpose

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Cheshire Cat: Where are you going?
Alice: Which way should I go? Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there”
― George Harrison

“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

What a contrast between the Alice in Wonderland excerpt above and the Roy Bennett quote.

“It’s important to have a purpose. I have seen lives filled with loneliness and despair when no specific purpose has been embraced. On the other hand, I have seen drastic improvements in psychological well-being when people have identified a meaningful purpose.” —

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When Keith Richards & Mick Jagger met at the train queue they each discovered they weren’t alone in their love of the Chicago blues. They moved in together and made a commitment: no dating, no jobs, no distractions… just learn how to play the music they were hearing on these records they scored from America. They had a purpose. It became the focus of their lives and because of their commitment, they learned the music indeed, which opened doors they never dreamed existed. —

Like everything else, there is a counter-balancing truth that should accompany our purpose-driven activities. That is, purpose-driven living can have a dark side. Is the purpose a worthy one? I think here of Captain Ahab and his quest for the great white whale, Moby Dick. His obsession not only cost him his life, it cost the lives of most of his crew. I think here of the damage wrought by Bernie Madoff, as well as Adolph Hitler’s megalomania. I think, too, of the quest for wealth, power and status which can all be achieved while still leaving the soul empty.

I’ll close off here with a handful of observations from the author of Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a Nazi concentration camp survivor whose insights from that experience have been published and nurtured people all over the world.

— Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

— When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

— Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

— When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.

— Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her own life.”

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“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Originally published at
Illustration and photos by the author.

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An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon

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