The meaning of life, defined by Victor E. Frankl, is the will to find your meaning in life. It is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment. He believes that if you are approached with the question of “what is the meaning of my life” or in this case, “life is meaningless,” then you should reverse the question to that person asking the question. For example: What are you bringing to me? What are you as an individual contributing to this life? This forces the person in question to take a look at themselves and to ultimately be responsible.
Frankl says that if you are a responsible member of society than the meaning of life transcends from yourself rather from your own psyche. He also says that if we for some reason cannot find meaning within ourselves it has to be from some outside source. This is referred to as service. And an example of this is love. Victor Frankl describes three ways in which we can discover the meaning of life; Creating work-doing a deed, experiencing something-someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.
There are several reasons why a person could be feeling that their life is meaningless or has no meaning. According to Victor Frankl these reasons could be existential frustration, existential vacuum, and the meaning of suffering. Frankl breaks down the meaning of existential frustration as so, it can be referred to as existence itself ? the specifically mode of being, the meaning of existence, and striving to find concrete meaning in personal existence, which is the will to meaning. Existence itself, in simpler terms is just existing and the human mode itself.
The meaning of existence is the question in which we often ask ourselves; Why are we here? When we strive to find concrete meaning in personal existence, we are looking for the personal meaning for existence. Basically what Frankl is saying is that when we are dealing wit the existential frustration we are looking for given meaning that isn’t there. (There is no meaning). On the other hand there is the existential vacuum, which is when you cannot find meaning in your life. Frankl says that the existential vacuum manifests itself mainly in the state of boredom.
It’s when you feel that you have no structure in your life, no one telling you what to do, your not learning anything, and basically your not doing anything with your life. Because of this you’re going to become a conformist or a totalitarian, which is either doing what everyone else does or doing what people tell you to do. You’re not thinking for yourself. You’re also going to become bored. In the state of boredom the person can start to see life as meaningless, esp. the person questioning the meaning of their life.
They start to question themselves and wonder what their purpose and meaning of their life is. This boredom can be a result of condition called Sunday Neurosis. Sunday Neurosis takes place when a person has worked hard all week long or for many days on end. (We know this as a result of tension; it’s what drives us and keeps us going. It promotes meaning and gives us goals. It is not the same as stress, because stress is an overabundance of tension. ) Then a day comes along when you have nothing planned, nothing going on and you don’t know what to do with yourself.
Therefore boredom results and when there is boredom there is no meaning. And when there is no meaning we fill that emptiness with negative things, like money, power, and pleasure, basically we get into trouble. The meaning of suffering is another reason why a person might be questioning the meaning of their life. Frankl says that one of the basic aspects of logotherapy that mans main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but to see the meaning of his life. This is why man is willing to suffer in order to find a meaning for his life.
But he also says that suffering is not necessary to find meaning in life. Although suffering is inevitably unavoidable, and if it was it would be meaningful to remove it, because it wouldn’t make much sense not to do so. Another aspect about suffering is that it stops being suffering the moment we find meaning in it. Now that possible reasons for why a person may be feeling that their life has no meaning has been addressed, here are some possible solutions that Frankl might suggest. Once the person has discovered why their life is meaningless they need to rediscover their meaning that they lost.
They could ask themselves a question like, what was I born with and what is the greater meaning in that? Because it is believed that you’re born with a meaning that every single person on this Earth is born with a meaning. Life doesn’t owe you anything. Basically you’re the responsible one for all the stuff you put out into the world during your life. Another thing that he might talk about is what the person does everyday. If they aren’t doing anything with their life he might suggest them getting involved with something to help create tension.
Since tension drives us and pushes us to reach our goals, it helps give us meaning. Frankl also sees responsible-ness as the essence of human existence. He says that everyman has a specific, unique job in life that he is too fulfill an that no one else can do this or replace this one person in the same way. “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. Each man is questioned by life and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; he can only respond be being responsible.
” Frankl also says, ” Live as if were living already for the second time, and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you were about to act now! ” If it was me taking this person, sitting them down, after analyzing what could have caused this sense of unmeaning in their life, I would look at the options of how to find meaning. I agree with Frankl when he talks about meaning as tension and responsibility. I also agree with him when he discusses his views on how everyone is born with meaning and that everyone has a set occupation or vocation on life.
I believe that everyone is unique in his or her own way. Therefore why should everyone’s lives be the same and have the same meaning. They don’t. We are born with meaning and we have to find that meaning through our actions and our drive to live life and our interactions with the people and the things around us. Usually when I am presented with material in school I tend to form my opinion by looking at both sides if an issue, because there are usually two sides to every story.
But by looking at Frankl and examining what he has to say about the meaning of life, suffering, love, frustration, boredom, tension, etc, I have rally gained a lot of knowledge that almost is common sense. If you sit and take the time to read the material through thoroughly you can see exactly where he is coming from. He’ll take a difficult situation, such as suffering, and turn it completely around. As far as suffering goes I try to do the same thing, in a way. When Mark Felice died last October it crushed me.
But I tried to look at the positive side and say well, his suffering is over and he was here to teach us how to live to be stronger and better people. Through our suffering, over the loss of his life, we ended his suffering. This is kind of what Frankl does, he turns things around and makes you view things from a different perspective. I like his way of thinking because it’s not always something that I would think of off the top of my head. Overall, I enjoyed the book although it was difficult at times to read, but I think I gained knowledge from it and see different ways to look at things now.