In the course of our life, we might wrestle with the question about what exactly the meaning of life. For some, it is definitely a hard to answer and might lead to a devoid meaning. For others, it might be a precious question and answer it in a meaningful way.
Victor Frankl, 20th century psychiatrist, who founded the field of logo-therapy and also a holocaust survivor best explained the meaning of life. According to him, the human nature is motivated by the search for a life purpose. His theories were heavily influenced by his bitter experience in Nazi Concentration Camps.
According to Frankl, the meaning of life can be discovered in three different ways;
- By creating a work or accomplishing some task.
- By experiencing something fully or loving somebody.
- By the attitude that one adopts toward unavoidable suffering.
The above points suggest that a person can arrive his/her existential meaning either through an active life, in which one realizes his/her values in creative work, or in a passive life, in which one finds meaning through another person or thing. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.
There is an interesting incident- the man who was in depression due to his wife’s death consulted with Frankl. He asked the man to consider what would have happened after he had died first and his wife had been forced to mourn his death. The man was able to recognize that his own suffering spared his wife from having that experience, which served as a curative factor to relieve his depression.
The meaning is life is time specific, situation specific and demographic specific. It is true that suffering is inevitable. As we are human beings, the suffering is certain. The ultimate purpose of life is to be happy. We need to search the meaning of our life out of the suffering.