According to Viktor Frankl, the meaning of life lies in finding a direction. And in taking responsibility for ourselves and other people. If we have a clear ‘why’, we can answer all ‘how’ questions. Only by feeling free and sure of the purpose that motivates us can we make the world a better place.
That said, there is no question as complicated as the question of ‘the meaning of life’. Such questions often have many philosophical, transcendental and moral nuances. So often we don’t get much further than clichés such as ‘be happy and make others happy’, ‘be satisfied’ and ‘do good’.
However, many people will feel a deep existential void and ask this question. What’s the point of life if I’m just working? If all my days are the same and I don’t find meaning in the things around me? Faced with this common situation, Viktor Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist and inventor of logotherapy, gave an answer that leads to constructive reflection.
People are not obliged to define the meaning of life in universal terms. Everyone does this in their own way. We start with ourselves, with our potential and our experiences, and get to know ourselves better every day.
Moreover, the meaning of life does not only differ per individual. We ourselves also have different life goals during different stages of life. Most importantly, every goal gives us satisfaction. And encourages us to get up every morning and fight for what we want.
The meaning of life according to Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl published ‘The meaning of existence’ in 1945. It has inspired millions of people to determine their attitude towards life. Frankl survived the atrocities of the Holocaust as a prisoner in Auschwitz and Dachau. He stoically overcame the difficulties and laid the foundation for a personal form of therapy: logotherapy.
In addition, the loss of his family highlighted the fact that his purpose in life was to help other people find meaning in life. Frankl got three specific insights:
- work day in day out with motivation
- live from a perspective of love
- have courage in the face of adversity
Let’s see how these insights can help us find the meaning of life.
We’ve all seen it: people who tackle difficult circumstances with positivity and motivation. How do they do that? We all share the same biological structures. What sets these people apart from the rest is determination. Being determined to achieve something, to overcome obstacles and fight for what we want, however small, helps us find the meaning of life at every stage of life.
Even when you are struggling, keep your goal in mind and you will find strength.
Viktor Frankl described in his book The Meaning of Existence that there is nothing worse than being convinced that our suffering is meaningless. However, if you can find a purpose, you will not just endure the suffering; you will see it as a challenge.
Change your attitude to find the meaning of life
Sometimes life is not fair. Sometimes we work until we are exhausted and we invest all our time, energy, emotions and heart… and only get setbacks in return. Every dream we have is shattered. The urge to give up is logical and understandable, but you have two options here.
- On the one hand, you can assume that we cannot change what happens to us. We are sometimes prisoners of circumstances.
- On the other hand, you can accept that we cannot change what has already happened to us, but we can change our attitude towards the events.
Therefore, we must adopt a stronger, resilient and positive attitude if we are to find more hope and meaning in life.
The meaning of life is not asked, but felt
The answers to all questions in our lives cannot be found outside of ourselves. Books will not explain our meaning in life, nor our family or friends. In reality, all of our needs, passions, and existential goals are found within ourselves. And they will change as we mature and grow.
Finally, nothing is more important than understanding that we have the freedom and responsibility to set our goals. The meaning of life, according to Viktor Frankl, lies in the fact that every second of every day is an opportunity to make a decision. These decisions determine whether we are puppets at the mercy of circumstances, or act with dignity, listening to our true selves.