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“He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how,"
declared Nietzche. Viktor Frankl, who quotes him in his book, was a prominent figure in the field of psychology during the past century. As a Holocaust survivor, he drew from his own experiences to develop a profound theory. According to Frankl, the search for meaning serves as the fundamental motivation behind human existence. Purpose, in essence, is the driving force behind our actions and decisions. Some argue that meaning is merely a defense mechanism, a construct we create to simplify life. Yet, can you imagine living without a sense of purpose?
Amidst the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, many of us find ourselves contemplating the greater questions: What is the purpose of it all? What brings true fulfillment? At times, we may even experience an existential void, losing our sense of direction, passion, and goals – ultimately losing our sense of meaning.
Embracing Life's Challenges:
Renowned psychologist Jordan Peterson encourages us to recognize that life is undeniably challenging, perhaps even more so than we initially perceive. Life presents us with difficulties that test our resilience and character. Embracing this reality is the first step towards uncovering meaning. By acknowledging that challenges and suffering are intrinsic to our existence, we open ourselves up to personal growth and self-discovery.
Freedom is a universal aspiration. However, the journey towards adulthood and independence is often arduous and anxiety-inducing. Why? Because true freedom cannot exist without responsibility. Finding purpose in life also entails accepting responsibility for our choices and decisions, regardless of the outcomes. Though it may feel daunting, it is crucial to acknowledge that we alone are responsible for our emotions and our own happiness. And when you think about it, that's true freedom.
Three Paths to Uncover Life's Meaning
In our exploration of life's meaning, we turn to Viktor Frankl again. In his book Man's Search for Meaning, he recognized three ways to discover your life's meaning.
Creating and Doing:
The first path lies in the act of creation and doing. Consider the teacher, dedicating their life to shaping future generations, or the scientist driven by the desire to uncover new knowledge for the betterment of society. Even the barista who finds joy in crafting the perfect cup of coffee, bringing happiness to others, contributes to the tapestry of meaning through their work. By engaging in endeavors that align with our passions and values, we find purpose in the act of creation.
Experiencing and Connecting:
The second path emerges through experiences and connections. Think about the individual who finds purpose in love and nurturing relationships, or the curious soul who discovers meaning through travel and exploration. By immersing ourselves in moments of connection, by cherishing encounters with diverse people and cultures, we tap into a deeper sense of purpose and expand our understanding of the world. It is in these experiences that we find glimpses of meaning that shape our lives.
Attitude Toward Suffering:
Frankl's third pathway highlights the role of our attitude toward unavoidable suffering. While suffering is an inescapable part of life, our response to it can profoundly impact our experience. It is through our response to life's challenges that we shape our character and forge a meaningful existence.
As we contemplate these paths, let us remember that life's meaning is a deeply personal and evolving journey. Every person needs to discover which way is right for them. Take this classification as a guide in finding your own path. Embrace the possibilities that lie within, and embark on a quest to discover the profound meaning that enriches your life.
So, dear reader, as you navigate the intricate tapestry of existence, remember that you're not alone. At VOS, we wholeheartedly wish for you to discover your WHY, as it will empower you to overcome any HOW in your life's journey.