Finding Meaning in Life

Finding Meaning in Life

There was a day when I felt a complete hopelessness and helplessness. I began to hate the life I lived, the people who surrounded me, and my work environment. Everything looked wrong.

Out of despair, I googled “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?” and “HOW TO BECOME HAPPY?”. Later on, I searched for the best books on those topics. Of all the books listed, two books took my attention and I start to read them. For some it seems a joke, but it is real, the books change how I see life and people. I understand the power of our thinking. I shout to myself “change your thinking, change your life”.

“Man’s search for Meaning” and “The tools” are the two books I’m talking about. After a year of reading them, the idea of sharing something about those books just popped up in my mind. Nevertheless; I want you to know that this article is not a complete review. This is simply my personal observation about those books and the life we live.

Man’s Search for Meaning

“There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is meaning in one’s life.” (126)

This is one of the greatest books I recommend everyone to read. Between 1942 and 1945, the author, Jews Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

Frankl’s theory–known as logo-therapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”)–holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

I totally agreed with Frankl that if you have a meaning for your suffering, you don’t feel the pain and keep striving, even through that suffering, to achieve your goal.

The bottom line is – Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

The Tools

“When someone enrages you and you can’t get the person out of your head, you may replay what he or she did or fantasize about getting revenge. This is the Maze. It puts your life on hold while the world moves forward without you.”

“The childish belief that people will treat you ‘fairly’, you refuse to move forward with life until the wrong you experienced is rectified. Since that rarely happens, you’re trapped.”

Barry Michels, an LA-based therapist, was frustrated by his inability to bring his patients faster relief from the issues that plagued them. They have identified four fundamental problems that prevent people from living the lives to the fullest:

1) Moving Away or Avoiding Pain

2) Unrealistic and Untrue Negative Belief Systems

3) Insecurities based on Assumptions

4) Negative Thinking

The following are provided as the Tools in the book to overcome the above listed problems

  1. Reversal of Desire
  2. Active Love
  3. Inner Authority
  4. The Grateful Flow
  5. Jeopardy

Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost. The typical reply with which such a man rejected all encouraging arguments was, “I have nothing to expect from life anymore.” What sort of answer can one give to that?

The bottom line is- We had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.

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