Saturday, January 15, 2011

Finding Meaning in the Now

"Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." -Viktor E. Frankl

Some have suggested that man's highest drive is pleasure or power, and all that he does is attributed to one of these motivations. We are tempted to adopt this psychology when we see excesses of pleasure-seeking or power-grabbing in our society.

Viktor Frankl , a famous Psychotherapist and author of "Man's Search for Meaning," suggested man's highest drive is to find meaning in life. He also explained that meaning-frustrated people default to pleasure-seeking or power-seeking to find happiness.

Contrary to the pleasure or power ideas, Frankl suggested meaning and happiness cannot be found for the seeking, but rather are a by-product of three activities:

Deeply experiencing a person or a thing.
Doing a work/creating something of lasting value (occupation, avocation, etc).
Choosing one's attitude amidst inescapable suffering.

He referred to these as the three meaning values: experiential, creational, and attitudinal.

What is remarkable is that these three activities are based in the present, and therefore these are values of the Now. To deeply experience someone, we must be fully present with them. To create something of lasting value, we must be present with our work. To choose our attitude while in pain, we must be present with our pain.

If we are present with a person, a work, or our pain, we will not identify with our egoic mind. We will not dwell on the past or fantasize about a better future. And in so doing, we stumble upon happiness.

"For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it." -Viktor Frankl

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