Youth in Need of Purpose

By Laura posted 10-17-2018 07:47


Youth VolunteersThe need for purpose lasts our entire lives.  It is one of the foundational elements required for human beings to thrive and lead meaningful lives. Studies have found that purpose helps us be happier and also live longer lives.  In fact, areas with the highest levels of centenarians, The Blue Zones, have found that these 100+ year old people are more likely to have a strong sense of purpose.

Discovering My Purpose has a process that works for people of all ages and backgrounds.  Everyone is welcome to participate and can benefit from the self-exploration exercises listed in this site. 

Our youth are in a place of dramatic need. For this reason, this article focuses on their specific challenges.

Stanford Professor William Damon conducted a long-ranging study and in-depth interviews with adolescents and young adults. He found that only about one in five young people expressed a clear vision of where they wanted to go, what they wanted to accomplish in life and why. 

In his book The Path to Purpose Professor Damon states, "The most pervasive problem of the day is a sense of emptiness that has ensnared many young people in long periods of drift during a time in their lives when they should be defining their aspirations and making progress toward their fulfillment. For too many young people today, apathy and anxiety have become the dominant moods, and disengagement or even cynicism has replaced the natural hopefulness of youth."

Professor Damon describes a majority of our youth as "adrift." They are hesitating to make commitments to any of the roles that define adult life, such as parent, worker, spouse or citizen.  

How much does it matter if these young people are free floating through life? Studies have shown it matters a lot. Barbara Schneider and David Stevenson conducted research where they followed seven thousand American teenagers from 8th grade through high school. They found that most of today's young do have ambitions they would like to achieve. They wrote, "Most high school students... have high ambitions but no clear life plans for reaching them." They are "motivated but directionless." Unfortunately this is a powerfully negative combination.

The results of this can be seen in the fact that our youth are more depressed and unhappy than ever. A recent study by J.L. Buchanan has found that depression is the most common health problem for college students. The CDC has reported record levels of suicide for youth aged 15 - 34 years old.  It is now the 2nd leading cause of death for this age group.  The CDC goes on to share that 17% of students in grade 9 - 12 in the US reported seriously considering suicide in the previous year and 8% attempted to kill themselves.

Helping youth discover their purpose is the best broad-based solution that we have to help them live lives of meaning. By doing this, we can help address the challenges listed above.  Read more and watch a video about the power of purpose to learn about its impact. 

Want to learn more about the importance of purpose? Discovering My Purpose is a nonprofit organization that can help. Go here