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Finding Meaning & Purpose

Viktor Frankl

What gives life meaning?

“The meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. To put the question in general terms would be comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: “Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?” There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one’s opponent. The same holds for human existence. One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfilment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.

As each situation in life represents a challenge to man and presents a problem for him to solve, the question of the meaning of life may actually be reversed. Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible” (Frankl).

How to meaning?

The true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. Viktor Frankl has termed this constitutive characteristic “the self-transcendence of human existence.” Being human always points to something or someone other than oneself. The more one forgets himself – by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love -the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self- actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence. Thus far we have shown that the meaning of life always changes, but that it never ceases to be.

1

Creating a work
or deed

The way of achievement or accomplishment. Although the meaning of life may be ever changing through different seasons of a person’s life, they can still find meaning by working towards a goal. For example, a senior in highschool may have a long term goal to become a doctor. Through this long term goal they’ll be able to find many purposes for the next 10 years or so. One season they’re only focus is to do well on standardized tests to be able to get into their top choice medical program. Another season they’re sole purpose it to do well in medical school so they can actually make it to residency. And so on and so forth until they become a doctor. Where they can set another goal of becoming the number 1 doctor in their field or even discovering a cure to a certain disease their passionate about.

2

Experiencing something
fully or loving somebody

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.

3

The attitude that one adopts towards unavoidable suffering

“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation— just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer —we are challenged to change ourselves.

Let me cite a clear-cut example: Once, an elderly general practitioner consulted me because of his severe depression. He could not overcome the loss of his wife who had died two years before and whom he had loved above all else. Now, how could I help him? What should I tell him? Well, I refrained from telling him anything but instead confronted him with the question, “What would have happened, Doctor, if you had died first, and your wife would have had to survive you?” “Oh,” he said, “for her this would have been terrible; how she would have suffered!” Whereupon I replied, “You see, Doctor, such a suffering has been spared her, and it was you who have spared her this suffering—to be sure, at the price that now you have to survive and mourn her.” He said no word but shook my hand and calmly left my office. In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.” (Frankl).

Benefits when teens have meaning

Able to live purposefully

Always growing

Improved Self Worth and Self Confidence

Likely to be happier in general

Live with purpose.

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