One of the sources of a general sense of frustration in American culture flows from our attempt to give our lives meaning & purpose rather than finding the meaning & purpose which they already have. It is the latter which ultimately gives us the sense of fulfillment and focus… of being “in the zone”.
Let me unpack that a bit…
In Saturday’s post I talked about the attractiveness of the Judeo-Christian take on meaning & purpose, as opposed to atheism’s position on the matter. It’s not just atheists, though, who attempt to give meaning & purpose to our lives… doing so is a very common American approach to life, probably the dominant one, in fact.
The ideas of the “self-made man,” of “making something of yourself,” of “being all you can be” are all deeply embedded in our culture, and they all hinge on the idea that meaning & purpose are something we give to our lives.
As I mentioned in this opening of this post, I propose that much of the underlying frustration which many Americans feel — and which manifests itself in many ways — flows from this idea of giving purpose to our lives. Why? Because of what I said in the previous post: you can’t give meaning & purpose to your life (or to anything, for that matter)… you can only find and discover the meaning & purpose which it already has.
Recognizing this is not a bad thing, however, but just the contrary: discovering why I exist and what I exist for is freeing and exhilarating… it allows me to thrive, to live life abundantly.
How do we do this? How do we find meaning & purpose in our lives? The same way you’d find the meaning & purpose for, say, a machine that you don’t know how to use: you ask the Maker…