Your Life Dream: Pleasure vs Deep Meaning (Freud vs Frankl)

  • This post is part of a #write31days series – click here for a list of other posts in the series Dare To Dream: Finding Your Dream (Again)

When people think about their ‘life dreams’, we often think of dreams to make our lives easier, or more enjoyable. When asked, “What is your dream?” (as we did in the previous post), many people answer “Win the lottery” or “Travel the world””Become famous”. There is nothing wrong with those answers. My first thought is that I would want to travel more. I love traveling, and I hope to have the opportunity to do more.

Who wouldn’t want that? It’s natural as humans (we’re all in this boat together), to think that having money or fame or the ability to travel where we want and buy what we want would make us happy. Yet how many stories have we heard about people who win the lottery and are more miserable than ever? Or the movie star with perfect looks and a multi-million dollar contract and a team of people working to meet their every need, yet they are still searching to fill the whole in their heart with a drug or alcohol addiction. Some even take their own lives in despair. Those who seem to ‘have it all’, as society would define it, are often still unhappy. Sometimes even moreso.

You may have all the money in the world, but on the otherhand you may also be plagued by friends and relatives and even strangers who just want a piece of you. That might make it hard to trust people and their motives. You may be able to travel the world, but if you area traveling alone, it might feel empty unless you have someone with whom to share your experiences. There is also value to having a safe place to land, to call home.

When we think of a life dream, it’s an easy go-to to think of things that bring us pleasure. Having a nice home, buying your dream car, winning the lottery, traveling the world, building a successful business or career. These things all might bring one pleasure. Sigmund Freud’s Pleasure Principle theorized that man’s core instinct is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. And that makes sense. Don’t we all want to be happy? to feel good? to experience pleasure? And of course we all want to avoid pain.

Recently I read, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, who challenges Freud’s Pleasure Principle. Or maybe I should say that he takes it a step deeper. Frankl believed that man wasn’t seeking pleasure first. He theorized that man’s core search was to find a deep sense of meaning. Frankl believed if a person can’t find meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.

Let that sink in for a minute.

“When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.”    Viktor Frankl

That is a lot to ponder, I know.

So get that paper or notebook or tech device from yesterday. It’s time to think about another question.

The journaling question or meditation for today is this:

What gives your life meaning?

What are you most passionate about?

What sparks your heart to life, or puts a fire in your belly?

If you want to share your answer, please comment below or go to our Facebook page and comment there.



What is Your Dream? (Two Questions to Help You Find It)

Where does one even begin to find their dream? If you and I were sitting at the coffee shop, or at happy hour, I might ask you,

“What is your dream?”

You might have a ready answer. You might have one hundred answers. Or maybe you don’t even know where to start to answer that question.  Together, we are going to start the journey of searching our hearts, and finding our dream. Let’s start simple – what is the definition of the word ‘dream’?

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word DREAM as:  A cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal:I fulfilled a childhood dream when I became champion

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary’s definition: DREAM: a :  a strongly desired goal or purpose <a dream of becoming president>  b :  something that fully satisfies a wish


Although it’s important to consider one’s dream in correlation with one’s life purpose, let’s start with the basics, and dig into PURPOSE a little later. 

Part of this series, our conversation on finding your dream, is going to ask you to think, to dig deeper.


Wherever you are reading this (at work, in your kitchen, at your desk, on your couch),

STOP and do this next step

Get a notebook or piece of paper, make a heading in your journal,  or open a document or note on your technology of choice. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You’re going to want to keep track of your answers as we dig deeper. Title this “My Dream’ (or whatever clever title you choose)

Next, write down these questions and answer them.

Question 1: What would I do if money were no object?

Question 2: Was this question difficult to answer? Why or why not?

And just like that, you are on your way to finding your dream again! Reader, we are all in this together. No one has it all figured out, no matter what it looks like on the outside.

Are you brave enough to start a conversation? I would love to hear your answers to Questions 1 and 2. Please GO TO OUR FACEBOOK PAGE and SHARE your answers.

When Your Dream Has Died (or You Have Simply Forgotten How To Dream)

My life for the past couple of years has been about learning how to dream, and becoming brave enough to take a risk. We recently left our family, our friends, and great jobs to move across the country to a new city where we know no one, to start new jobs, and to start new lives. As if being empty nesters wasn’t enough of a change.

This whole process started a couple of years ago. I went to a conference that encouraged you to dream and to live a more purposeful life. Thankfully my husband of almost 30 years was on the same page, and we started exploring our hearts and looking at our passions and gifts, and we decided to be open to change. I started writing again, and we both decided to see where the path of being open to change would lead us, and here we are. My friends have been amazed that we would be willing to up and leave everything we loved. Many have said that they were jealous, and they wished that they were also brave enough to do a big ‘do over’ in their lives.

But when I dig deeper, I find people are scared to even talk about their dreams. At first I thought it was just women in my life station – middle age-ish women with grown kids. That made sense – we had spent the past eighteen-plus years raising kids, possibly juggling a career, and pouring much of our lives into being a wife and mom. Now that the kids are older and don’t need us as much – now what? For years our lives revolved around meal planning, school activities, homework, sports, laundry. Once those activities trickled to a close, we faced a vacuum. So in many ways, I understood how women in that life station had a hard  time remembering what it meant to dream. Heck, when I was in the midst of those busy years with tinies, I could barely remember to brush my teeth or shave my legs. Forget about dreaming big dreams.

But as I talk to people about living a new dream or pursuing a passion, I see a common thread. It is not just moms, or empty nesters, or even women. We have forgotten how to dream.

Maybe you had a dream, and it was crushed, and now you dare not dream again because you are so broken you are just surviving. Maybe you have been so busy with life – work, school, family, building a career, buried in a screen – that life just rushes by you and it doesn’t even occur to you that you could have a dream, let alone pursue it. Or maybe you have spent years in a role – mom, dad, boss, caregiver – and you have built your identity around that role so much that you have forgotten that there is a whole world out there. Maybe you have forgotten what it even means to dream. Or perhaps you don’t feel worthy of a dream. Maybe you have been in a relationship where you were not encouraged to dream or grow. Perhaps you were abused and told that you were not worthless, that you are not allowed to have feelings. How can a dream grow when it keeps getting smashed and crumbled to pieces?

Together we are going to look at what it means to dream, and how to find your purpose,  passion, and perspective. Short daily posts will ask questions to get you thinking, give you exercises to help you along the way, and share stories about what learning to dream looks like in other people lives. Sometimes we will laugh, sometimes we might cry, but hopefully we will all just learn together about what it looks like to find and follow a dream that will lead to a more meaningful, purposeful life.


Somedays You Just Show Up: Or Why I Haven’t Been Writing

On October 1 I started a 31 day writing challenge. It was exhilarating. I had my most popular post ever. I was participating in a great blogging community, and learning new things about blogging and writing every day. I knew that I had some busy days coming up – traveling, going out of town, and I had already granted myself grace that I would not be able to write every day. Things got busy, and I was able to write one post in the middle of things. And then I hit a wall. I wasn’t only finding myself too busy to write, I was AVOIDING writing.

Today, I told my husband that I’ve been rebelling against myself. I know I need to start writing again, and the best way I know to sort through all of the thoughts swirling in my head is to write about it. My heart is in turmoil, life continues to happen, and rather than dealing with things, I am just letting them swirl in my head and heart, which does nothing to help. So here, in no particular order, are the things that are on my heart.

I’m showing up, and that is about the best I can do today.

1. I loved the writing challenge, but it was a lot of pressure. Especially because as I was writing about finding balance, challenging myself to write every day was actually pushing things out of balance because:

a) time on Facebook takes away from my quiet and contemplative time, and one of the things I had been looking forward to was getting off of Facebook for a while. However, one of the best parts of the challenge was connecting with others on the FB site, and publicizing my blog on FB

b) I started a series and didn’t want to finish it. I have one more part to the series, and then I can move on to what is really on my heart. My last part of “Finding Community” was about the importance of fun in friendship, and I was finding the whole thing boring, and not fun at all to write about.

b) I had my most viewed post ever. Going from about 20-50 views a day to over 600 in one day was encouraging, but then I started watching stats – which is something I did NOT want to do. I don’t want to have to analyze and over-edit every post. I don’t want to care about word counts. I don’t want to watch new views and visitors. I just want to write to myself and anyone who happens to decide to walk with me. (Like I said, I have an issue with balance – I’m a recovering all-or-nothing type of person.)

2. I was out of town having fun with friends at Disneyland, and then at a hospice and palliative care conference. Not excuses, just my truth. I did not want to take time out of having fun with my friends, or take time away from learning OR from the beautiful solitude and relaxation of Lake Chelan, where the conference was held.

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

3. I really wanted to watch Doctor Who and the season premiere of the Walking Dead. No apologies. So there.

4. There are some possible changes coming up in my life – and the changes could be major. (Jobs, homes, kids, finances – a lot of possibilities brewing)

5. I miss my kids. My oldest moved into his own home this fall, my youngest is 3,000 miles away, and my middle son is home but never here. It’s all good – they’re supposed to fly, right? But my nest is feeling big and empty. And my sweet young friend who lives with us is getting married in less than a month, and I am going to miss her desperately.

6. I spent this afternoon watching a funeral on live stream. A friend of the family died this week. She was 37 years old.  She had fought this amazing fight against a brain tumor for ten years. TEN YEARS. This was the kind of story I used to encourage others who were fighting cancer, and the kind of story that encouraged me as a hospice nurse. She had a positive attitude, researched alternative treatments, and loved and trusted Jesus all throughout this journey. This week her story changed, and she finished her race valiantly.

I think that the grief for her loss, for her husband and two young sons who are left behind, and for her brother and mama and papa who walked this path with her has hit me more than I anticipated. My heart is broken for all of them.

And I am reminded (which I know as a hospice nurse) that grief is cumulative. I wrote about this on my hospice blog, The H Word, in an essay called “Vicarious Trauma: When Your Heart Can’t Hold Any More Stories“.

I think about my own sister, who was killed in a car accident at the age of 19 almost 27 years ago. I think about the babies I lost years ago through miscarriage. I think about all of the patients I have lost over the past ten years. I have had three close friends diagnosed with cancer in three years. Grief upon grief, story upon story, they never leave you.

And sometimes the grief leaks out and takes me by surprise.

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

7. Another thing I am grieving is a broken relationship that needs mending. My heart is struggling between being healthy and forgiving and loving and setting boundaries versus feeling unsafe or allowing myself to continue to be victimized. What is the most loving thing? As I listened to the funeral today, one of the young woman’s friends spoke about the importance, even during the worst of times, of remaining “soft and obedient”. I don’t remember the exact words, but my prayer today is this:

How can I be a loving, soft, brave, and obedient warrior?

Growing a Friendship: pt 4 in finding community

   October 9, 2014 by Kristin Meador
 Day 9: For the month of October, I’ve joined over 1600 other writers in a 31 Day writing challenge. You can read more about it and see the participating blogs at write31days.com  Here is the starting page for 31 Days of My Search for Balance: Body, Mind, and Soul. From there you can find all of my October posts. 

Once you have found friends with whom you can share your heart, how do you grow a friendship?

In the past year or so, these are some of the things I have learned (and am still learning) about growing a friendship.

This is my sweet friend. Shelley. We met when our sons were in the same class in second grade. For five years we said, "We'll have to go out for coffee sometime." Instead, we would just chat in the school parking lot, or when the kids had sleepovers, or if we saw each other at church. 20 years later, we are still friends.

This is my sweet friend, Shelley (she’s on the left, that’s me on the right). We met when our sons were in the same class in second grade. For five years we said, “We’ll have to go out for coffee sometime.” Instead, we would just chat in the school parking lot, or when the kids had sleepovers, or if we saw each other at church. Twenty years (and two grown children) later, we are still friends.


You must be purposeful.

Relationships rarely just happen on their own. You need to be purposeful and plan at times. Set regular times in the calendar. Call when you haven’t heard from someone in a while. Send a text, or better yet, a card or a letter to let them know you are thinking about them. Ask how they’re doing, and really want to know.

You must be present.

In the screen age, I find that this is more challenging. We are used to texting rather than calling (even I prefer a text to a phone call). But there is nothing like face to face, sit down for coffee heart-to-heart chat. And put the screens down. If you can, turn off your ringer so you’re not checking notifications every two minutes. I know it’s hard, because our phones have become an appendage, but try. I read last week that the message you send if you’re looking at your phone while talking to another person is “You are not enough for me right now, at this moment.” Even if that’s not our intention, is that really the message we want to send? Look people in the eye. It can be disconcerting – people don’t look each other in the eye any more. Try active listening – ask open-ended questions, and really listen to their answers instead of planning what you’re going to say next.

You must be vulnerable.

Take down your guard. I’m not saying that you have to do this all at once, but piece by piece, share your story. Share your flaws and your imperfections. As you open up, they just might open up, too. If you’re scared, it’s okay to say it. We are all just garden variety humans trying to get through life together. Don’t pretend that you are something other than that.

You must have grace.

Have grace when your expectations are not met, or when you’re disappointed. It is scary to put yourself out there, and being rejected, or feeling like you’ve been rejected, hurts. If someone is late for a coffee date, or if they don’t return your phone call or text, give them grace. Lives are busy, and we don’t know what is happening in their lives. Maybe they’re just forgetful. Maybe they’re just flaky. Maybe they are trying to scrape together every last bit of patience to deal with their kids. Maybe they just got in a fight with their significant other. Be forgiving and show grace, and don’t take it personally. It’s not all about you. Life happens. Move on and try again.

You must show up.

The most important thing you can do is just show up. Even if it takes you seven coffee dates before you can share your story, show up. Being vulnerable is scary, but just show up. Be there. Be available. Not just physically, but emotionally. Be present. If you know you are both going to be dropping your kids off at school, buy an extra coffee and just talk in the school parking lot for five minutes. If their child is sick, bring over some crackers and ginger ale. I love the phrase that author Bob Goff uses in his book, Love Does. “Be love with skin on”.  Just show up.

What does it mean to JUST SHOW UP?

Shelley just finished her last round of chemo and radiation. When she had her surgery, I came over to help her shower, empty her drains and give her injections in her stomach. Sometimes you just show up. Because LOVE. (She is the silly one on the left.)

Shelley just finished her last round of chemo and radiation. When she had her surgery, I came over to help her shower, empty her drains and give her injections in her stomach. Sometimes you just show up. Because LOVE. (She is the silly one on the left.)


* There is one more thing –

You must have FUN.

We’ll talk about the importance of fun in the next post.