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Man's Search for Meaning

By Ilka Bezuidenhout

Research indicates that people in modern society often experience emptiness within themselves and they search for something or someone to fill this emptiness. The uncertain economic environment, high unemployment rate, high divorce rate and increased pressure to succeed are a few factors that lead to increased anxiety and stress. In my practice, teenagers and adults often express their struggle to feel motivated and content in why and what they do in life.

Teenagers in therapy will express how difficult they find having clear goals about their future. Instead of feeling hopeful, they feel media and educational institutions warn them about how increasingly limited their options have become. Some will even express that they feel their future is ‘doomed’. When listening to them one can understand why there has been an increase in depression and anxiety amongst teenagers.

Adults, too, often feel torn. On the one hand, they experience anxiety related to the importance of financial security. On the other, they yearn to experience real meaning in their careers. However, the risk to change is higher than in the past. This often results, in adults feeling stuck and unhappy in their work environments.

Although I have experienced an increase in depression and anxiety in my clients throughout the last decade, I have also seen how people have an inherent and primal need to search for happiness and meaning. 

People explore various avenues to arrive at meaning in life. They read more self-help books, attend workshops, enter therapy or go to a life coach to develop their skills as parents and spouses etc.

 Companies are also focusing more on supporting their employees well-being and developing their managerial skills. 

People use the Internet to research and read about practical ways to change their environments, relationships and personal growth. They spend this time in search for development, hope, happiness and most of all, meaning.
When recently asked by one of my teenage clients whether I will choose the same career I came to the following conclusion: I am blessed to be a witness to someone’s struggles, moments of happiness and search for meaning and this becomes one of the ways I find meaning in my life.


By Nido R. Quebein

1. Develop a positive mental attitude. Control your attitude and you will control your habits. Control your habits and you will control your life.

2. Manage your time and you manage your most valuable asset.

3. Plan your life and work your plan. Those people who really achieve their goals are the ones who have set their goals carefully, have developed their strategies realistically and followed their plans carefully.

4. Utilize all of the resources available to you. Many of us overlook many of the resources that are available to us every day.

5. Take time out to smell the roses. You may have a rose for only a day, but a rose a day is enough. People need rest and diversion. People who take planned breaks are more efficient.

6. Cherish family and friends. One of the most valuable goals any person can set is to cultivate those relationships that will make life seem worthwhile.

7. Meet adversity with courage, faith and hope. Problems are nothing more than opportunities or stepping stones on the road to your goals.

8. Cultivate self-respect and you will be respected by others. The most valuable commodity in the world of trade has always been personal integrity and honesty.

9. The greatest freedom in the life is self-determination. Greet every morning with the following resolution:
This is my life – I will take it and I will make it worthwhile!

Anthony Robbins Ultimate Success Formula

1. Decide what you want (Be precise! Clarity is power)
2. Take action (because desire is not enough)
3. Notice what’s working or not. (You don’t want to continue to expend energy on an approach that’s not giving you the results you want)
4. Change your approach until you achieve what you want. (Flexibility gives you the power to create a new approach and a new result).


The real purpose of a goal is what it makes of you as a human being while you pursue it. Who you become as a person is the ultimate reward.

Don’t put off joy and happiness.

To so many people, goal setting means that only someday, after they’ve achieved something great, will they be able to enjoy life.

There’s a huge difference between achieving to be happy and happily achieving.

Strive to live each day to its fullest, squeezing all the joy you can out of each moment.

Instead of measuring your life’s value by your progress toward a single goal, remember that the direction you’re headed in is more important than temporary results.

Ask yourself, what is your current direction?

Are you moving toward your goals or away from them? If not, make a change in one of these areas now.

Obstacles are merely a call to strengthen your resolve to achieve your worthwhile goals.

Own thoughts:
Remember, there are no failures, just unwanted or undesirable results.

Questions to get you started:

• What do you value and place the most importance on in your life?

• If all someone had to go on was the visible decisions and habits you have displayed over the last year, what conclusions do you think they would make regarding what is important and what you value based on what is made visible in your daily decisions?

• Would this be an accurate reflection of you and what you value?


Where is there a conflict between your expressed values and how you actually live? If not, what changes would need to take place for the visible results to be more in harmony with your values and priorities?

Where is your career agenda/daily decision violating your total living agenda?

• Where do you have to put meaning into your life?

• What are the “shoulds and oughts to do” that you find yourself responding to…but they are not your shoulds?

• What do you neglect?

• What or who do you take for granted/complacent about?

• Take a moment now to write a brief paragraph describing all the character traits, skills, abilities, attitudes and beliefs you need to develop to achieve all of your goals.