What’s your why?

Viktor Frankl‘s expertise as a psychiatrist and experience as a Holocaust survivor led him to this conclusion: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any how.”

Today will bring you all sorts of unpleasant gifts. On a personal level, you will encounter people who are lazy, negative, and seemingly eager to drag you down with them. On a big picture level, you will doom scroll through the same headlines as yesterday:

  • climate? check.
  • coronavirus? check.
  • poverty? check.
  • racism? check.
  • And so on.

It’s a lot. We’ve all gone through a lot. Oy, have we gone through a lot. It’s exhausting just reading how much we’ve all gone through.

Kids. Parents. Medical professionals. Front line workers. And my colleagues – teachers.

According to federal data, more teachers left the field in 2021 than any other profession. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, “companies are hot to hire them.”

If you’re a teacher, or do anything with your day that is underfunded, underappreciated, under-respected and overly abused… why do you do what you do?

Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any how. -Viktor Frankl

Don’t tell me it’s a “calling.” That’s just a cheap way of saying, “This feels really good to me – it’s rewarding.”

There is a word for compulsively acting in ways that feel rewarding but work against our well-being or self-interest: addiction.

Name Your Why

What’s your Why? It might be helping the next generation sort out the mess we’ve made. It might be a job with a steady paycheck and benefits. I’m not here to judge.

Your Why is everything. It will get you up in the morning, see you through the day, and protect you against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – even that maskless bully who blocks the doorway to yell at you about things they know precisely nothing about.

Your Why is the invisible camera that keeps you company all day, the one you can always turn to and say, “Did you see that shit?” Of course it did. That’s Why you’re here.

Why Not

But for all the ink we’ve spilled on passion, and purpose, and being our best selves etc., what if you can’t identify your Why? What if your Why game is weak?

Find a better Why. Or do something else.

Why not?