Finding Meaning In Life

Finding Meaning In Life

I just completed reading Viktor Frankl’s memoir about his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp and it struck me how as a society we have lost the understanding of meaning in life, if we ever had an understanding of meaning of life in any substantial manner.

Frankl through the tale of his experience in a concentration camp, and his expounding of the theory behind his brand of psychotherapy, known as Logotherapy, revealsĀ an important point about meaning – namely that it can exist even where there is suffering.

Too often in our current society, which focuses on personal pleasure and the shunning of personal responsibility, we lose site of the fact that sometimes life is suffering and that suffering is often times unavoidable and uncontrollable.

Our search for happiness has become an escape from any form of suffering. We think happiness is the complete avoidance of suffering and the maximizing of pleasure and we miss the point of life – that it is about learning and growth and that our greatest achievements, and greatest meaning, are born out of great challenge, and often suffering.

That isn’t to say that we should seek out suffering, but we shouldn’t live our lives in such avoidance of suffering that we fail to take responsibility for our lives, and fail to take chances that bring greater meaning and may require sacrifices that may cause suffering, though suffering itself is not the goal, but may be a circumstance of the choices we make.

Pleasure seeking is the form that our current society takes to avoid suffering. We fill our lives with stuff in order to maximize pleasure while never finding meaning. We see suffering as something that is merely pain and miss the growth that can be found in suffering, and so miss chancesĀ for growth and meaning.

In order to grow from our suffering, and to find meaning in it, we must have a vision of a future where we have learned something from our suffering and done something positive and good with that suffering. We must be able to think creatively and find meaning in every moment of everyday. We must consider every minute that we are alive as a gift, one that allows us one more chance to grow and to learn no matter the circumstance. We must see life and growth as a product of experience, not of our interaction with things.

Live your life as though everyday is important, that everyday is unique and special. Don’t seek suffering, but don’t fear it either. Embrace every experience and find a way to learn from it, to grow from it, to allow it to make you a better human being. Love yourself and love others. Love your life, no matter the circumstances, and you will find meaning.

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