Tag Archives: Meaning of life

Finding Meaning in Life, Key to Satisfaction and Fulfilment

Meaning in life is found by finding your purpose in life.

To discover meaning in life, we have to find the meaning we give to life by the unfolding of our powers.

People from all walks of life share an inborn urge to find meaning in life; to discover direction and purpose in their existence.

This desire to find meaning in life appears to be as vital to our psychological development as eating to our biological continuity.

We all seek meaning in our lives and recognize meaning’s absence in lives characterized by boredom, dullness, isolation, and listless disengagement. But what is meaning in life? Is it distinctive, or reducible to other aims and conceptions? Is it a helpful category for thinking about good lives that are worth living? Is it sensible and coherent to want it in one’s life?

According to Viktor Frankl, the Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor: “What man actually needs is not a tension less state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

Throughout our evolutionary journey, many of us spend a lot of time in the search of happiness. We attempt towards a goal more focused on a better paid job, greater status, or acquiring the latest possession, rather than spending our energy and time on things which can contribute more value and fulfillment to our lives.

“Happiness without meaning characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life, in which things go well, needs and desire are easily satisfied, and difficult or taxing entanglements are avoided.”

Although an unfulfilled life doesn’t mean an unhappy or unhealthy life, but lack of finding a meaning in life can create anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

Finding fulfillment and meaning in life is more about giving to others, to the community, to the environment, and to the world.

By giving, and by finding purpose, we discover satisfaction and meaning in life, but not necessarily happiness, even though it can be a by-product. Finding a meaning in life gives us a purpose to go on despite life circumstances.

Meaning and fulfilment can be found in three activities as Viktor Frankl devised in his “meaning triangle“:

  1. Creative Self-Expression: Give something to the world through expressing your own creativity in some form, whether it be through art, music, writing, good deed.  By being self-expressed we let people see our spirit and true character; they will see the totality of who we are.  And sharing of one’s “self” fully is the ultimate in generosity and is vital for finding peace, happiness and meaning in life. It’s really the state of just being yourself. And it’s also what others refer to as the state of flow; that timeless state that we’re in where we are not really aware so much of what we’re doing, it’s more of a sense of being. We’re right there in the moment; we’re in the present moment, expressing naturally who we are. And what we’re really expressing is a state of joy and fulfilment.
  1. Experiencing the world through connection, nature, culture, spirituality: Viktor Frankl wrote, realizing that our lives has reason and purpose, will enable us to understand that we are fully responsible for our lives, and for continuing them. “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.””. Our Why gives us clarity, meaning and direction. It is a filter through which we can make decisions, every day, to bring our cause to life. A Why Statement is one sentence that captures our unique contribution and impact. The contribution is the real applicable part of our Why. The impact is the condition we wish to leave the people and world around us. Together, these two components provide a meaning in life for us and those we serve.
  1. Choosing the attitude toward inevitable situations or suffering: There’s not a single person in this world that can escape from suffering. There is always a time in one’s life that they have to face unpreventable painful situation. Often, the first thing we do in a crisis is to judge what, if anything, we can do to fix the problem. But what if it isn’t fixable?  In that case, the one kind of control we can apply is to change our attitude to this new reality.   Similar to the old saying of turning lemons into lemonade. As Viktor Frankl suggested: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms; to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Suffering comes when things change – a relationship ends, someone dies, we get fired from a job, illness attacks, a disaster happens.  Sadness introduces us to impermanence and so can help us learn to let go. By having the courage to touch our own pain and suffering, we start feeling empathy for the pain and suffering of others.  We begin to see that my suffering and your suffering are the same.  “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering.” ― Viktor Frankl

Remembering and thinking about the story of our lives, will help us to reflect back on what we have found joyful and meaningful. It can clarify the tasks which we have undertaken and have given us the most sense of meaning in life. And it may suggest further goals we might want to set for ourselves now.  These tasks can be in any realm; stories to write, children to care for, lessons to learn or teach, relationships to attend to, artistic ventures such as painting or sculpture, etc.  Meaning in life can be found in the very act of bearing witness to the events of our lives.  The most important thing is that these tasks feel meaningful to us to fulfil them.  It doesn’t matter what other people think of them. It is the knowledge that we’re born with an expiration date that drives our need for a sense of meaning in life to begin with.

As Joseph Campbell suggests: “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life.”


Search for your creative power

Search for your creative power depends on how much energy you put into reading and what you read. Certain books on thinking can make you better able to understand your mind and through such understanding enable you to make more intelligent use of your creative power. Creative power is about having the ability and power to manifest a creative idea. In particular it is about the power to cause something to come into existence which did not previously exist. Creative power is about consciousness directing a flow of creative life energy by how it focuses its attention and awareness.

Our mind is ours, and with it, we can create. We have created automobile, skyscrapers, airplanes, air conditions, television, satellite, and with it, we can create contentment, contentment in a joyful world in which we can harness machines to eliminate most of the dangers and hardships. Not only is it our potential to create a meaningful life, it is also our obligations to ourselves. And yet the quest for happiness is, to so many people, a grotesque traffic jam. The motor keeps running, but the car can’t move.

Too many people have renounced happiness; too many think that living has lost its kick for them; too many find no purpose in their lives. Why is this? Why people give up on life? Why do they give up on themselves?

“Individuality is dead”, some say. “The pace is too fast” others say. They talk about the hustle-bustle of city life, the speed with which people move around on working days. They criticize the changes in our ideas; about sex, about art, about dress. Who can keep up with these revolutions in thought?

All right, there is some truth to the criticisms of today’s world, but people have always lived with imperfection. Down through history we find people coping with problems; some lived richly, some were afraid to live. And so is today; there are people who live, and there are people who use rationalizations to keep them from living fully.

Criticisms of the modern world serve only as stumbling blocks if they lead people to turn away from life. There is no excuse for negative thinking which wastes human life. When a person drowns himself in such a pattern of thinking, he is committing an unspeakable crime against himself.

Yet in our complex civilization people too often live with boredom and anxiety rather than adventure. While I am writing this article on creative living, I would like to communicate to you my ideas on the meaning of life, about a good life which you can make reality. I want to share with you that zestful, optimistic living can be a reality for people today. So many people do not see this truth, yet it is as real as the table at which you eat; it is as real as you are male or female.

Contrary to what many think, truth can be pleasant:

  • Operating on your mind: There is more to life than a good physical image. There is another force which can sustain you amid the demands of living. It is a force that can remove scars of the mind. It is a force that can bring you a sense of security, even when events in your world go wrong, and that is your self-image.

In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, “To take arms against a sea of troubles.”

To live creatively, you must “take arms”. You must arm yourself with powerful weapons which will not fire blanks when you need their support.

“The self-concept is a factual description of how you perceive yourself. If your perception is distorted, this description may not be an accurate depiction of you, but it IS an accurate statement of what you believe about yourself.”

  • Don’t let worries get you down: It is completely unacceptable how negative thinking can take hold of you, dragging you down into despair. When you substitute worry for living, you must take responsibility for it. Because it is really up to you. You can make your days thrilling, or you can make them miserable.

“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment.” ~Dale Carnegie

  • The source of your strength: To bring health into your life, you need healthy self-image. You need to see yourself as a worthwhile human being; you must give acceptance to yourself. The image you have of yourself, the way you see yourself deep down, is fundamental in your adjustment to yourself and to the world you live in.

“Your chances of success in any undertaking can always be measured by your belief in yourself.”  ~ Robert Collier

  • Sharpening your image of yourself: Deeply ingrained negative attitudes permeate our culture, and every day people we know may try to submerge us in them. You must not allow to be railroaded into adopting stereotyped, humiliating attitudes toward yourself. You must, to live creatively, redouble your efforts to support yourself, to give yourself credit for your accomplishments, your positive feelings, your positive actions, and your life building qualities. You must redouble your efforts to accept your shortcomings and to look humanely upon your blunders. Moreover you must examine yourself as you are, realistically, without falling prey to negative ideas which short-changes your estimate of yourself. If your self-image was never strong, you must work long and hard to strengthen it. If it was once strong but has deteriorated, you must eliminate self-destructive ideas from your mind and build it again, a logical continuation of what it used to be. You will encounter roadblocks from many sources, but you can overcome them if you adopt positive attitudes toward yourself, and if you see yourself as someone you like, as someone with whom you’d like to be friends. You must understand, first the incredible power of your mind, for good or evil. It is the simple concepts and images in your mind that can make you happy or miserable. Your thoughts, your concepts, your images, these are your most precious assets. You can buy a mink coat, or an expensive house, and yet be unhappy. You can travel around the globe a hundred times and make a million dollars, too, and still be miserable. You can strengthen your image of yourself and be content.

“To live happily is an inward power of the soul.” ~ Aristotle

  • Real meaning in your life: Life is something different for each person. Sad to say, some people hide, afraid to come out into the daylight. Others may both take refuge in safe, dull activities which will protect them from both punishment and real human experience. But life should be adventure for you today. Life should be exciting for you today. Life should be purposeful for you today. You must understand that, though we seem to hear mostly the negative, there is always two sides to the coin. Even within the many confines of civilization, the human being may still be free and joyous.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The life of man is the true romance, which, when it is valiantly conducted, will yield the imagination a higher joy than fiction.This is written in nineteenth century, but it is still accurate—if one’s life “valiantly conducted”.

Preparation for rich living cannot start too soon. NOW, now is the time. NOW is the time to reappraise yourself—who you are. Where you are going. NOW is the time to see what you can do to improve your life.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, you are nowhere compared to where you can go.” ~ Bob Proctor