The strange paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I can change. “~ Carl Rogers
I just finished reading Mans search for meaning by Victor Frankl. I had read about the book many times and eventually read it.
Victor Frankl was a psychotherapist who lived in Vienna before World War II. I created what was called “The Third Vienna School of Psychology”. You’ve probably heard of Sigmund Freud, who was the father of psychoanalysis. More or less, Freud says that when you have a problem, it is probably due to a neurosis and it prevents you from getting pleasure out of life. It is probably the most common form of psychology.
Alfred Adler created the second psychology school to come out of Vienna. I’ve talked about a man trying to gain power. It was Adler who formed the idea that if someone feels inferior, they will mask it by demanding power over others and acting as if they feel superior.
I actually prefer Frankl’s ideas about psychology. Frankl came up with the idea of ”logotherapy”. In Greek, “logo” means “meaning”. Frankl said that man must have meaning in his life. If someone came in for psychotherapy, he would help the person find meaning in their own lives, often this meant finding an opinion outside of themselves.
Frankl used this mindset to help him get through the Nazi holocaust when he was in concentration camps and exposed to truly inhumane conditions. Instead of thinking about himself and his own survival, he by his wife, and how they would live after the horror. Or he thought of the manuscript he started before the war and would finish. I imagine he was presenting the ideas to an audience of his peers. He found meaning in his life outside himself, and because he had meaning in his life, he had a will and reason to live.
Thank God most of us will never be tested like Frankl was. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to find meaning in our own lives. Frankl often quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, a late 19th-century philosopher, who said “He who has a reason to live can carry any way.” So what is the “why” in your life? What is the meaning of your life? The reason it is important to answer this question is that once you have the answer, your motivation level to succeed is skyrocketing. If you go to work because you “have to” go to work, you’re pretty unmotivated. And if you go to work because you have bills to pay, you’re pretty unmotivated.
But imagine going to work because you are 3 months away from having enough money to buy a diamond ring for your boyfriend. You already know exactly which store you want to buy it from and you have the ring picked out. You already have the whole scene played in your head. You will suggest a spring weekend on the beach at sunset. You want to tell her how much you love her, paint a picture of the rest of your life together and then take out the ring and ask her to marry you.
Now you are motivated to go to work. And if the boss offers you some overtime, you are motivated to take it. And let’s be serious, if you’re this motivated, your boss is likely to notice and offer you overtime instead of someone else. Or the customer will notice and give you a bigger tip. Or whatever the case may be.
The bottom line is … people who are more motivated are more likely to succeed. And people who succeed are more likely to be motivated. It’s a wonderful cycle to be in. And how do you get into that cycle? Find out your “why”. Find out your meaning in life.
Do not create or invent the meaning of your life. It already exists. Don’t reinvent yourself, accept yourself as you are, and realize what meaning your life already has. Then go to work to create a life to fulfill that meaning.
In the aftermath of Frankl’s book, William Winslade writes that Frankl was asked about the meaning of his own life. He wrote it down on a piece of paper and asked his students to guess what he wrote down. One student guessed exactly. The meaning of Frank’s life was “to help others find the meaning of theirs.”
I have realized that the purpose of my life is to inspire others to live in happiness and in gratitude. To that end, I write these articles, among other things.
So, again, what is the meaning of your life? Find out and start living it!