A client recently described to me his deep sense of pessimism about the state of the world, and how that hangs like a cloud over his finding topics of interest or having ambition about his future. He asserted further that many of his peers felt the same way.
I cross-checked this with a different young person and he confirmed the observation with certainty. He added that this pessimism did not apply to just people who are currently in a state of “wandering” or “trying to find themselves,” but also to many young people who (by all outside appearances) are well on their way with good foundations. He proposed that lots of young people today are carrying a feeling of pessimism that can border on despair, and they feel at a loss for what to do with their life in light of how messed up everything looks.
This second young person, though, surprised me (and thrilled me a bit) by recommending that his generational peers could navigate through this morass of pessimism by each figuring out and activating their purpose in life. So I was inspired to build that out a bit…
The late Jewish writer Leo Rosten said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.”
That certainly challenges one’s perspective, doesn’t it?
Figuring out one’s purpose in life is a really personal effort, and not to be taken lightly if one is serious about it. The good news / bad news is that there are only like 200 different topics a person could address. Some are grand and public; others are so personal or localized that they can be invisible to third parties. But of course, they are all legit. And any one of them can transform a person’s outlook, sense of direction, sense of place, and ambitions when it is articulated and pursued with intent.
I propose that we can help people in this “wandering” and “pessimistic” generation by stirring their thinking around how they might figure out and get to work on their purpose in life.
This generation surely didn’t create the “whoa is me” trap. Let’s have dialogue on how it’s timeless human nature to focus on one’s own needs, wants, and especially fears. Let’s also dialogue on how people are so much happier when they seek to make a difference in the lives of others, and in the state of the world at large.
Perhaps we can help this generation overcome the epidemic of pessimism by moving their emotional center of gravity away from self-involved thinking and inspire them to raise their gaze a bit — to consider how they can each make a difference in their own way — so maybe the world won’t feel like it sucks so much.
Anyone who would like to connect with me or explore these topics more is invited to visit my website at www.otoolecoaching.com.