Meaning and Purpose
Glenn R. Schiraldi

   
Self-esteem correlates highly with one's sense of meaning and purpose.  The famous concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl observed that knowing one's life has meaning and purpose confers a calm inner strength that enables people to endure great suffering.  Frankl explained that the concentration camp caused some to sink to depravity, but others rose to greater heights of character and selfless service.  Survivor's pride, felt by resilient people who have lived through great suffering, includes individuals (1) discovering that they have an existing inner strength that is greater than adversity, and (2) knowing that their lives still have meaning and purpose.  Meaning and purpose derive from discovering and developing character and personality strengths.  They also derive from the use of these strengths to benefit others, which Aristotle described as a pathway to happiness.

Studies have shown that defining success primarily in material ways leads to poorer psychological adjustment.  However, a common theme across cultures is that those who think of others and aim to better the world discover greater happiness and awareness of their inner worth.  People who understand this early in life are fortunate.

In the Japanese culture, kigatsuku is the inner spirit that helps us see the needs of others and help without being told.

The gifted teacher Chicko Okazaki relates that when she was a child her mother would say, "I'm looking for a kigatsuku girl to help me with the dishes."  Pretty soon she learned to see what was needed and then help without being asked.  Traveling widely today doing public service, she might pick up trash in a public bathroom, which she feels privileged to use, explaining that helping is everybody's job.

How might we make the world a better place?  There are many ways.  When someone asked Mother Teresa how he might help her, she simply said, "Come and see."  We can simply observe what needs to be done, and do it as best we can.  This might mean providing physical help (such as cleaning or giving a ride) or giving a smile, a listening ear, or encouragement.  Simple expressions of help can be given to family, friends, coworkers, or strangers.  Or, if we have the means, we might donate time or money to a worthwhile cause (such as a soup kitchen, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Habitat for Humanity, or a political campaign).  Further, you can think of your job as a way to contribute.  For example, one janitor might view his job as simply cleaning and getting rid of trash.  Another might view it as creating an environment that helps educators teach and a generation of children to learn.

Another way to make the world better is to beautify or improve our environment for the sake of others.  This could involve artistic expression (such as painting or poetry), inventing, sprucing up your home or workplace, or picking up litter on your walking path.  Additionally, you can think about what it would be like to be in another person's shoes and see how your behaviors affect that person.  Plante reminds us that the hotel housekeeper cleans up other people's messes and might be ignored by the guests.  Perhaps she would appreciate receiving a simple greeting from the guests she cleans for.  A salesclerk might be tired after a long day of dealing with demanding customers.  An empathic smile or word of thanks for her service might go a long way.

S.C. Hayes reminds us that we all carry burdens--perhaps memories, partially healed wounds, worries, self-doubts, or fears.  Rather than trying to ignore, deny, or hide these, you can think of them as passengers on the bus that you are driving through life.  You compassionately acknowledge that they are aboard, but you needn't listen to every demand that you stop, take a detour, or let them drive.  In this way we can move ahead purposefully in life, even with these imperfections.  Remember that you are driving, not being driven.  Choose a pace that is comfortable.  You can't do everything, and you can't do it all at once.  But you can experience the security and satisfaction of doing what you can do.
   

Learn to appreciate yourself with these ten simple solutions for building self-esteem. These easy-to-grasp tips for fostering a positive sense of self distill and add to many of the best, most effective techniques from the author Glenn Schiraldi's successful Self-Esteem Workbook. They draw on techniques from Eastern and Western traditions; mindfulness practice, thought-watching, strengths appreciation, and more. With the simple solutions in this book and a little practice, you can discover what a wonderful and valuable person you really are.

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