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The Point of Purpose


Having a purpose, or reason for living, appear to be important parts of meaningful engagement. 

The need for purpose is one of the defining characteristics of human beings. Human beings crave purpose. It is a fundamental component of a fulfilling life.

Writer and therapist Zoryna O’Donnell goes even further in saying that people suffer serious psychological difficulties when they do not have it. She cites the work Man’s Search for Meaning by psychiatrist Viktor Frankl as a case in point.

“This book was first published in 1946. It describes how the author’s experiences as a prisoner in Auschwitz during World War II helped him to discover that the desire to find a meaning in life is essential to the human experience, even more than the desire for pleasure or power.”

Four key factors

She documents four key factors that help to promote meaning and purpose in life:

  1. Physical and mental well-being (taking care of our body and mind, using stress-reduction techniques and building mental resilience)
  2. Belonging and recognition (being part of something much larger than oneself, feeling valued and validated)
  3. Personally treasured activities (things we do that make us feel good – hobbies, spending time with our family and friends)
  4. Spiritual closeness and connectedness (a feeling that all living things in the world are interrelated). Religion can be part of spirituality, but spirituality goes beyond religion.


The Selwyn Way is our approach to the care and wellbeing of all who connect with us, says The Selwyn Institute Director Hilda Johnson-Bogaerts. "It is something we have spent many years articulating and to discover the parallels of our approach to care and these powerful words first published back in 1946 by Viktor Frankl under extreme circumstances, simply reinforces how critical environment, health and engagement in life impact our wellbeing."

"Part of our focus for 2019 is looking at Vulnerability, and Resilience, in the context of ageing. Certainly having a true purpose and inner strength is a contributor to resilience. People like Viktor Frankl show how the power of the spirit, and undying resolve, can overcome anything, in the face of seemingly insurmountable situations.”

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Date published: 27 February 2019

Review date: 27 February 2022