As the end of my 20’s approached, I found myself on a treadmill five days a week for an extreme workout. This exhausting exercise felt exactly like the way I was seeing my life: desperately trying to get to my “destination”, ”my finish line”, but feeling stuck.
I was going to be 30 years old soon and, to my eyes, I hadn’t been able to achieve my ‘big goals’. Besides, my ‘dreams’ seemed to fall apart despite my efforts; it is needless to say that I hadn’t accomplished the ‘expectations’ for a woman of my age (like getting married and having children) nor had I reached an economic and professional ‘stability’.
“What is the sense of all this?” I asked myself, “What is the point of trying hard but not succeeding? Is there any reason of trying to move on in life?” My problem was a loss of sense and meaning.
During my worst days of depression and frustration, I looked for an answer to such questions. Ultimately, I am aware that a simple answer about the ‘sense of living’ doesn’t exist and there is no’direct’ way to ‘succeed’ (whatever that means) in life without obstacles.
But, rather than an ‘accurate’ — and implicitly illusory — answer, I started to consider the following 3 points that may help you if you are experiencing the same emptiness:
1. It is you who gives meaning to your life
Viktor Frankl stated that “ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is; but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life…”
This dazzling reflection made me realize that a meaning doesn’t come from a specific goal or situation; instead, the meaning is the responsibility of every one of us and depends on what we do, independently of the results.
It is not that life has no meaning, but that you give meaning to your life. Some people give meaning to their lives by helping others, researching, writing, creating, working, taking care of their children, etc. To give meaning is an individual challenge: discovering how to put it into action, is up to you.
2. Live with faith and courage
Instead of worrying about a ‘purpose’ of life, we should enjoy the process of living. What if we allow ourselves to have courage and faith in where the road takes us?
“What will I be tomorrow? I don’t know (…) Where else might my path lead me to? It is foolish, this path, it moves in loops, perhaps it is going around in a circle. Let it go as it likes, I want to take it”, wrote Hermann Hesse in his book Siddhartha.
3. Results will eventually come
Viktor Frankl also explained that if we are obsessed with success, it could – paradoxically – never happen:
“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself…”
So, success must not be the ‘goal’ but the ‘natural result’ and the amazing thing is that it can come in many ways, like Schopenhauer wrote:
“We often find something else, something better than what we are looking for; and what we look for, we often find on a very different path from that on which we began a vain search. Instead of finding, as we expected, pleasure, happiness, joy, we get experience, insight, knowledge —a real and permanent blessing, instead of a fleeting and illusory one”.
Artwork by ©2016 defectivebarbie