Home / Resources / Resilience Skills : purpose or meaning – What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Resilience Skills : purpose or meaning – What gets you out of bed in the morning?


It’s a question to which there are no right or wrong answers as everyone has their own sense of purpose. The answer which would be a cause for concern is “I don’t know”.

Those who have a sense of purpose or meaning in their lives have been shown to be more resilient than those who do not. Each person’s purpose or meaning will be unique to them, but their awareness of it can make the difference between success and failure, or even life and death.

The psychiatrist and neurologist Victor Frankl believed that “happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy’”. As a concentration camp survivor he witnessed life and death on a daily basis during his incarceration. He wrote afterwards about his experiences and using his professional skills to help others in the camps.

He believed that the difference between those who lived and died came down to those who knew the meaning of their life. He helped fellow prisoners with feelings of despondency realise that something was still expected of them in life. Finding the uniqueness of their meaning, whether it was to be reunited with their child who had been safely transported to another country or to finish a series of scientific books, would be enough to provide them with the purpose to carry on rather than attempt suicide. Even in the toughest circumstances, he believed that once “He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how’”.

Having a purpose and meaning in life has since been shown by research to:

  • improve mental and physical health
  • decrease the chances of depression
  • increase overall wellbeing and life satisfaction
  • enhance self-esteem and enhance resiliency

… and this perhaps goes some way to explain why those who single-mindedly seek happiness can ironically be left feeling less happy.

In a 2013 study the researchers found that although a meaningful life and a happy life will overlap in certain ways, they are ultimately very different. They found that leading a happy life correlated with being a ‘taker’ whilst leading a meaningful life related to being a ‘giver’. They also found that negative events in life decrease happiness but increase the level of meaning your life has.

Which leaves us re-visiting that vital question, “What gets you out of bed in the morning?


This is one of a series of articles on aspects of resilience. You can access them all from this post Resilience Skills: An A-Z of definitions of the terms used.

Recent articles on our blog....

A white plate with a white and green flower arrangement and candles in the background

Do you seek or avoid conversations about grief at work?

December 7, 2023

For this year’s National Grief Awareness Week (2 – 8 December) we have reviewed and updated the section on grief within our mental health resources and consider why we may avoid conversations about grief at work.

Read More →

Autumn 2023 Newsletter includes tips for Stress Awareness Week

November 1, 2023

For Stress Awareness Week, the autumn edition of our quarterly wellbeing at work newsletter includes stress management tips and resources.

Read More →
Two anonymous co-workers sitting outside talking, one holding a coffee cup and the other the stump filter of a coffee machine.

Communication at work – be aware of the pitfalls of co-rumination

November 1, 2023

We offer 5 tips for helping to develop healthy interactions at work in order to increase wellbeing and avoid co-rumination.

Read More →



Our purpose is to provide training and consultancy services to enhance resilience, health and wellbeing in the workplace.


Differentiation is one of the most strategic and tactical activities in which companies most constantly engage


It's natural to have questions about training and how it fits with your organisation. Our FAQs can help you find out more.


View case studies for some of the in-house training courses we have delivered to different types of organisations across the UK.