Why Am I Alive?
How would children and teens you know answer this key question representing our need for purpose? How would you like them to be able to answer it? How do you answer it?
A lack of purpose is a leading cause of suicide so meeting this need in healthy ways is very important. For instance, teens who don’t know why they’re alive don’t care what their future holds or if they die prematurely. Therefore, they don’t care if their day-to-day decisions are wise or unwise. In fact, if they have no reason to live, they may choose unhealthy and unwise actions. This is further evidence that simply giving teens information about the dangers of alcohol and drugs isn’t enough. They must want to live in order to apply what they’ve been taught.
In our instruction, we regularly refer to teen’s positive qualities (i.e., identity), people depending on them (i.e., belonging), and things they can do to positively impact the world (i.e., purpose). We stress prioritizing and serving others because when we get our eyes off ourselves and choose to make a positive difference in the world, our entire perspective can change. We talk about being optimistic toward oneself, others, and the future. We teach about encouragement vs. discouragement and hope vs. despair.
Kids without healthy purpose usually use little or no effort, flit from one activity to another, don’t complete much of their work, and need adult supervision. Work that is completed is often sloppy. Excellence isn’t important to them. They get discouraged with little or no reason, complain of boredom, miss the point of assignments, and frequently ask, “Why do we have to do this?” (“What’s the value of school?”)