Viktor Frankl drew on his own existantial experiences as a survivor of the holocaust, to originate the discipline of Logotherapy as explained in Wikipedia. “Logotherapy is a form of Psychotherapy that stresses the need to find meaning in life even in the most tragic circumstances. When “Man’s Search for Meaning” was published in 1959, Carl Rogers called it “one of the most outstanding contributions to psychological thought in the last fifty years.” He broke away from Nietzsche’s will to power and Freud’s will to pleasure by explaining that the individual’s highest calling is to find the meaning in life based on the following:
• Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
• Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
• We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.”
Frankl went on to explain that to find meaning in life we need to be careful against affluence, hedonism and materialism as that will distract from finding the purpose that will give meaning to our life. No matter how adverse the environment we face (Frankl lost his family and survived multiple death camps during the Holocaust), we must always remember “the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”. The freedom of will is ours and we have to determine our own character and personality, no matter what the circumstances. We will be buffeted by biological, political, social, economic and other adverse situations but our will is our own and we will suffer, but we must never surrender to our circumstances.
Existential analysis and psychotherapy aside how will we bring this message alive, so that we can continue to find meaning in our life and get fulfillment from a life lived with purpose? We are the victims of our own inadequacies which are largely the result of “unfulfilled responsibility” (I could have provided better for my daughter) and we suffer from “anticipatory anxiety” (I will not be able to sleep when I go to bed). To battle anxiety from such situations Logotherapy offers “paradoxical intention”, or go to bed and intentionally try not to fall asleep (this will reduce the hyper anxiety about not being able to sleep, and the person will fall asleep in a more normal timespan).
Now I look back on my life and see the successes of all my contemporaries and also the many accomplishments of the wonderful people that I have known. #Life is valuable and we must not squander this greatest of all opportunities. What are anxieties about my lack of personal success; whether economic or social are eating away at my purpose in life and I am unable to develop myself. The depression from promises unfulfilled to my spouse, or family, or boss have taken their toll over the years; till now I am a mere hollow shell of what I once was. Drop by drop, the repeated blows of perceived failures, have hollowed out my inner strength; till now I project a weak exterior, trampled on by one and all in the passing herd. Life has become a daily look in the mirror at past failures and lost opportunities and preconceived notions of my own inadequacies for #self actualization.
Now I consign all these sorry feelings and low attitudes, to the dung heap of history. I will raise my beliefs again to the level where I will find the meaning in life, which I have long sought. Next time we meet you may find a spring in my step and a vision that rises higher. If you see a new light around me, it is my life burning in a new flame of meaning. The wick is time (my life) and the fuel is will (my attitude) and the light is knowledge (my life providing meaning to others around me). Look closely at the flame that rises; for I have decided that from now on I will become the temple lamp that lights the way, by burning itself out. In my newfound wisdom I will indulge fully in a joyful effort to improve myself and those around me. We will promote training in generosity, patience, concentration, wisdom and above all a compassion for all creatures and promote ethical living. My current flame is weak I know; but by the time I am done I #hope, it will be an inferno that will become a shining lighthouse in life’s storm, for all humanity if you join with me!
Very inspiring ……very well explained and written…………..one spark will light up many………….THANK YOU !!!!!!
One spark of light is enough to dispell the darkness and as others join in we can truly become enlightened and achive more together than apart.The remarkable similarity between Frankl’s will to find meaning in life, and the songs in the Upanishads and Vedanta where the essence of life and its meaning are paramount, is astounding for me to discover. It is a long journey but we have to take the first step to reach the goal.