We ask the age old questions: What’s life all about? Why am I made to suffer? What’s the meaning of my life? The answers to these questions are within our grasp, unique to each of us and accessible to all according to Viktor Frankl.
I recently read Viktor Frankl’s memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, the story of his survival in the Nazi death camps during World War II. Before his imprisonment in Auschwitz, Victor Frankl was a prominent psychiatrist in Vienna.
After his liberation from the concentration camp in 1945, Frankl wrote his memoir. Throughout his book, he explains how our view of the world affects how we experience the world around us. He talks about his own spiritual growth while in the concentration camps,
“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.”
Life, he says is like a movie that we live frame by frame, and in each frame (the present moment) we find our purpose if we are willing to see.
Frankl goes on to explain it this way, “The meaning of life differs from man to man, day to day, 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.”
We see our life in pieces: fragments from the past, our perspective from the present moment, and our dreams and anxieties of the future. Yet we can’t see the entirety of our life – we can’t watch the movie of our life; we can only live it frame by frame. And it’s in each frame, each precious moment, that our purpose exists.
As for suffering, Frankl, who endured incredible suffering during his three years in the death camps says, “If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering…which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement. In some ways, suffering ceases to be suffering the moment it finds a meaning.” Although Frankl makes it clear that suffering is not required to find meaning in life, it does accelerate the process.
Our longing for the meaning of life is a shared human experience. Each of us has a purpose, a meaning in this human experience. We all have our gift(s) to share, art to create, love to embrace, suffering to endure and lessons to learn. If you’re seeking the meaning of life, look no further than yourself, for the answers lie within; right here, right now. If ever in doubt of your purpose, stop for a moment and count your blessings, be grateful and then perform random acts of kindness. There is purpose and meaning in acts of compassion that serve both you and humanity.
Now go forth and shine your light on the world and have a magical Monday! ~ Namaste