The Meaning of Life
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
The Meaning of Life