“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Frankl was a professor and psychiatrist from Vienna. He and his family were persecuted as Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Frankl himself was lucky as he was one of few to survive but his family wasn't.
In the camps Frankl himself was kept alive by a combination of factors, like - sheer luck, hoping to see his family again, and his decision to let fate take its course. He understood that making an active decision to change his fate could potentially lead to death coming sooner.
Logotherapy guides one to find their purpose and meaning in their lives. This meaning differs by individual and can change from hour to hour.
Meaning can be found in even the smallest of details. So, don’t spend all your waking hours searching for an all-encompassing meaning of life. Instead, search for meaning in everyday tasks and in the relationships you have with your friends and family.
It does not matter what life throws at you. What truly matters is how you choose to handle these situations.
Everyone must find unique meaning in their lives and then go out and fulfill it.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
We should not question 'What is the meaning of life?' When we reverse the issue, the dilemma of interpretation is simpler to solve.
During the concentration camps, Frankl, as a psychiatrist, discovered three rich sources of meaning. These are the three ‘wells of meaning.’ You can turn to these wells when you lose hope and require motivation to get through a difficult period in your life.
If you died today, there would be a task that you and only you could have completed. A piece of work that required your unique collection of experiences, knowledge, and strengths.
If you are unaware of it -
Then, search for opportunities to use your unique collection of experiences, knowledge, and skill and then do the task believing you were born to do this.
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”
According to Frankl 'Love' has little to do with the feeling of being in love and more about struggling to help others succeed.
When you lack meaning, find someone you can elevate. Aim to make someone else’s life a little better. Get so busy helping others you forget yourself in the process.
“The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.”
You can use your imagination to overcome suffering. Take this incident (from Frankl's experience)-
While walking in the cold while being beaten by a Nazi guard, he recalls a man whispering to him, “If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don’t know what is happening to us.” Instead of worrying about the man’s comment, this prompted Frankl to retreat into his imagination. He pictured his wife and her smile.
“(By) accepting the challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end.”
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