What Would You Fight For?
What do you hate so much you could fight someone over it?
The question is stark, to the point, in your face. What do you hate enough to fight against it? Government that favors the rich? A bully who takes advantage of the marginalized? A dog trapped in a locked, hot car?
This question does a couple of things. It causes us to actually consider what is important enough for us to fight for, and it leads us to identify or more strongly embrace our purpose.
I believe the need for purpose is one of the basic needs of life. When our purpose is clear we are full of direction and energy, and eager to attack the day and whatever it brings. When our purpose is unclear or missing we feel confused, discouraged, and lacking in confidence to overcome even normal obstacles.
A well-crafted question that helps us self-evaluate is very much a part of choice theory. Choice theory is about how humans are internally motivated and controlled, and questions invite us to evaluate our own inner thinking and values. The importance of questions may be why I was drawn to a recent article entitled, Six Simple Questions To Help You Discover Your Purpose.* Toby Nwazor, the author of the article points out how fortunate people are to really know their purpose, but how many seem to go through life wondering what they were born to do. “The quest to give meaning to our lives is a universal one. It is a deep yearning with no respect for age, color or social background.”
+ For more good question ideas, check out 45 Absolutely Great Questions. +
“So how do we discover,” Nwazor continued, “what we are supposed to do with our lives? In my opinion it is not rocket science. To discover the important things we are supposed to do with our lives, all we need to do is answer these honest and simple questions.” And with that in mind here are the six questions, along with an occasional choice theory comment –
One – What do you hate so much you could fight someone for it?
Pay attention to the things that you choose to anger about. Maybe there is an “activist” inside of you that you have been dousing or deflecting, not realizing it might have something to do with your deeper purpose.
Two – What do you dream about?
What are the things you keep imagining yourself doing? It could be that others don’t share or believe in your dream, but if it won’t go away maybe you should pay attention to it.
Three – What makes you feel most alive?
It is interesting how when we are doing something that fulfills our purpose in life, the task or job is re-charging us rather than draining us. We can be working really hard, putting in long hours, thinking about nothing else as we wake up or go to sleep, yet we can feel like we are in a zone of creativity and energy. What do we think about, not because the pay is good, but because we just can’t help it?
Four – What are you naturally gifted at?
The list of possibilities are endless, but I am confident that each of us is gifted in something. Maybe others have even noticed and affirmed a special gift you possess.
Five – Where do you make the most difference?
What are things you do that seem to be the most appreciated and affirmed by others? These things can be pointers to your purpose.
Six – What have you always wanted to do?
Bucket lists are popular because they represent things we want to do or places we want to visit. More than if we want to visit the Grand Canyon or ride a zip line in Costa Rica, though, this question represents our ultimate bucket list. It’s less about what you want to do and more about who you want to be!
+ Do you have purpose questions to add to this list? Share them with the rest of us by using the Reply feature. +
The quest for purpose is as real as any of the needs we strive to meet each day. When our purpose need is being met it contributes to the other psychological needs being met, too. This may be because our sense of purpose has so much to do with our identity. If it feels like you are on a lifelong quest to find your purpose, don’t get discouraged. Our search for purpose and meaning is ongoing. As with the other basic needs the strength of our need for purpose doesn’t change. How we meet the need at different stages of our life does change.
+ Another great list of questions can be found in the post, 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids “How Was School Today?” +
* The original article can be found at http://www.dumblittleman.com/2015/08/six-simple-questions-tp-help-discover-purpose
Jim, Lovely piece, this, and really, really useful for juniors and seniors in high school or college kids. I do want to share with you that when I talked with Bill about personal importance, career choice and significance, he included those concepts in the genetic need for power. He included a wide sweep of power in that it was power “With” as well as power “Over” (sorry about the grammar as we really aren’t supposed to end a sentence with a preposition; oh, well!)…We also discussed eliminating all stimulus reponse vocabulary; in fact, I did that over a couple of summers in Ireland and we all found it challenging (eg “makes me/you feel” is a stimulus response phrase). So the question becomes something like, “What are you doing when—when you are in the process of doing it—-you feel very much alive?” It seemed to me as though Bill was highlighting this to me because it strengthened the understanding of the relationsjhip among the Total Behavior components (esp doing/behavior and feeling/emotion). So, as a counselor, I might have thought “I feel powerful when I have helped a person see true choices,” or “I feel personal power when I can introduce new ways of thinking to clients.” As you have so often written (re personal choice and responsibility) it isn’t the activity so much as it is our own decision to choose it.
I think what you are highlighting here has great importance too for seniors/elders like me who are now retired from their careers. You may recall that Erik Erickson wrote about this when he described this particular stage of human endeavor: he called it “generativity vs. stagnation,” and at great issue is the notion that when you retire from a satisfying career (in which you were well able to meet your power needs), you must then find new ways of living a purposeful life—or you will stagnate. Rollo May writes about power, too, and I always found these psychologists very useful in shaping my own thinking. I think now about what I was willing “to go to the wall” (or fight for) and I realize those old values are still operable (justice, kindness) and that speaks to the Quality World.
The great stuff to me is the quality and thoughtfulness of your responses. Even from a distance you have been such a support and encouragement to me. Your being able to work with Bill personally and your experience as one of the key trainers of his ideas have gone hand in hand to create such a significant legacy. I appreciate very much the work you have put into helping people understand the concepts of reality therapy, control theory, and ultimately choice theory. Your responses continue to have an important influence on me.
Hello Jim, you are right. Purpose is one of the basic needs of life. I am honored to be mentioned. Kudos
Very good to hear from you, Toby. As you can tell, I really appreciated the points you made in your blog. Hopefully, some of my readers will check out what you are doing.
You are right about that Jim. Thanks again.
Those are very good questions, something to ponder over the coming days..