“Despair = Suffering – Meaning”
In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl documented his concentration camp incarceration during World War I. As a psychiatrist, he gave meaning to his terrible experience by observing his fellow inmates closely.
What he discovered was those who made the conscious choice to give their lives meaning, survived at higher rates despite horrific conditions. Those for whom each day had no meaning slipped into despair and gave up.
In the typical life, those with vibrant and energetic pursuits thrive while those who become passive observers don’t do as well. We can see an illustration of this principle in retirees who envision a carefree life, but they find the lack of meaning taking its toll on their motivation and overall health.
The recent Parkland tragedy is another illustration. Students and parents in that community have given the otherwise meaningless slaughter a purpose by taking on a variety of causes. They made a choice.
The losses and tribulations of human life can either cause despair, or we can choose the antidote, “meaning.” If we choose to invest our lives with purpose, we can thrive in painful circumstances.
Viktor Frankl stated that the last thing we relinquish is our freedom to choose a life with meaning. It’s the one element no one can take regardless of circumstances.
I’m going to sit down and think of what gives my life meaning. Sharing a few ideas through these blogs is definitely on the list.
With love, Rosanne