“Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” Victor Frankl
According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Victor Frankl’s work is “perhaps the most significant thinking since Freud and Adler.” Beyond Freud and Adler, Dr. Frankl spells out a very powerful approach to finding meaning in life where happiness is a by product of living a life that does not focus on yourself, money or materialism. The following quotes from Victor Frankl summarize a different point of view about “meaning in life” than one we discussed on my last blog. On the last blog, I discuss that to find meaning in life you needed to live your passions. This self-reflective approach might get you started on a mission for self-discover but could lead you astray in your quest for meaning in life. Dr. Victor Frankl survived many WWII concentration camps and in his great book Man’s Search for Meaning provides a framework for the development of Logotherapy. He points out that the people most likely to survive terrible situations such as a concentration camp were able to answer this profound question–Survival for what? They created a future orientation rather than a self-center orientation. They created in their minds eye a future desire for reconnection with someone or something outside of themselves. This ability to find a mission outside of yourself is called Self-Transcendance and is the secret to finding purpose and meaning in life.
“Everything can be taken from a man but …the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way… What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life … It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.” He goes on to say: “There is also purpose in life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces.”
So the question for reflection today is –Which approach: Self-Transcendance or Self-Exploration is the path you are on to find meaning in life? Why?