Having a sense of purpose and meaning in life can help us get through trouble and pain, as discovered by Dr. Viktor Frankl in a Nazi Concentration camp and Anne Mahlum as a 16 year old in a family crisis.
As a neurologist separated from his family, Viktor Frankl found meaning and delight occasionally in connections with nature or a feeling of nearness to his missing wife. He also found meaning in taking notes - he managed to be freed from the camp at the end of the war and was able to rewrite a manuscript that had been lost. He also had gathered new data about the effects of starvation on humans - he had plenty to observe including himself.
The seemingly impossible may only need more effort and belief that it is possible. Anne Mahlum gives an excellent TEDx talk about the importance of having purpose in life and how we do seek and appreciate validation - being seen and heard. She started the seemingly impossible - a running club for homeless people. She was repeatedly told that homeless people don't run. Given a good set of shoes and an expectation of excellence - Anne found that some homeless people do run, and quite well.
Anne also shares some of her own reasons for running - to release tension from a family upset and heartbreak about her father revealing that he was a gambling addict. She doesn't make the point, but I will, if an "addict" stops drinking and smoking - but doesn't stop being an addict, then there will just be new addictions (like gambling).
In Alcoholic's Anonymous lingo a person who stops drinking but doesn't really change their emotional issues is termed "a dry drunk" - they stopped drinking but are still seeking something, escape or validation or a thrill, in some substance or activity. Addictions can be working too much, volunteering too much, shopping too much, watching TV too much, - the key words are "too much". A dopamine thrill is being sought and increasing levels of stimulation are needed to achieve the same release of dopamine. Other areas of life or a sensible budget lose out to the addictive patterns.
There is no way this will work | Anne Mahlum | TEDxKC (Youtube)
The easiest way to break a bad habit is to substitute a different activity. The brain "forgets" nerve pathways that are unused, so the more the bad habit is focused on, fought with will power!, the more those pathways are still being used. Substitute a new activity in your life and have active busy pathways doing other things and that whatever it was that you barely remember now....it won't be a bad habit anymore because you are busy! Having fun or learning or playing and learning - variety is a balanced life: family time, personal time, friends time, work time, self care and exercise time, household chores time - a little of everything is the spice of life!
Anyone who starts the hobby of litter pick up or invasive plant control (weeding nature) - will never be bored again and will always be able to find something to do. ---- Ask first about the weeding if it is not your property. Your local Department of Natural Resources may organize volunteers to pull invasive plants from state land. I find pulling invasive plants very therapeutic - I am releasing energy and possibly irritation and doing something productive for the planet at the same time!
Life has meaning but we may not see it in a shiny department store.
Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.