Need direction


Need direction


your avatar   Chris, 28-year-old woman

I feel like I am no longer able to function as a whole person on my current life path. I feel lost and hopeless and desperate for a major positive change, but the main problem is that I don't know what I want to do. I feel like I have too many ideas swirling in my head of things that I could do or be, but I can't do any of them because I can't decide, and the ones I would really, really like to manifest seem too far away. I have a seemingly happy life, but I feel like I'm wilting. I used to feel like a rainbow, bright and full of joy, and now I just feel empty.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Chris,

I have a couple items of good news for you:

1. You are not depressed, the problem is something else.

2. You are not alone: this is probably the most common source of distress in our society today.

I suggest you go and find a WONDERFUL little book: Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

In your current state of mind, this book could well inspire you enough to turn your life around.

This had the fortunate side-effect of converting enemies into friends.

Why is meaninglessness an epidemic? Because we are educated through a million messages that we are on this planet in order to seek happiness. We are told furthermore that the road to this elusive goal is material wealth: happiness is something we buy.

But when you buy something, you will find that the happiness it brings is only temporary. So we go on, seeking and seeking and always ending up with a cloud in our hands.

Of course you and millions of others feel that there is something missing. There must be more to life.

So, the 'cure' I suggest is paradoxical. Stop worrying about yourself, your own welfare, your own happiness. Find a cause OUTSIDE of your own concerns, and devote your energies and creativity to that. I can't tell you what this cause should be, but if you agree with my suggestion, you'll soon settle on one that is meaningful and immediately rewarding for you.

To illustrate, let me tell you about the happiest person I know. He is a 55 year old Jewish psychologist, who has spent the past year in Muslim, Jew-hating Afghanistan. He has caught several local diseases, lives in discomfort and danger, and loves it.

At home, he enjoys good food and a soft bed, likes to watch a show or relax with his family. He has given all that up for the time being, because he is doing something for the thousands of children in Kabul who are forced to be on the streets, working so their families can have a scrap of food to eat.

My friend Sam has no troubles about knowing why he is on the planet. His life has meaning and purpose, therefore he is happy.

You don't need to go as far as he has. There is an infinite amount of scope for copying him on a lesser scale. You can keep living exactly as you are now, except for a slight change in attitude: thinking of how your life can be of benefit to other people.

This does NOT mean that you make yourself into a martyr who always puts other people ahead of herself, as so many woman do. It means that you have a purpose in life that is not selfish and self-centred.

You didn't leave an email address, so I can't send this directly to you. Email me if you have read it, and let me know your reaction.

Have a good life,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


Before making a decision, ask yourself, "Is this choice in line with my values?"
"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."
Robert Frost
To make room for the positive you have to let go of the negative.