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Search for Meaining

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Submitted By lexierains2
Words 1952
Pages 8
College Writing II
Searching for The Meaning of Life to make a Life Worth Living It was a typical Sunday night and after a long weekend you go to bed exhausted. After what seemed like minutes you open your eyes to the sound of the alarm blaring in your ear. Wanting nothing more but to hit the snooze button and drift back to sleep you turn on your phone and realize you are already running late to class. Immediately you jump out of bed, grab your backpack and sprint out the door. At the same time you run out of the door your phone slips from your pocket and it shatters on the concrete. You feel as if it is the end of the world, and the only thing on your mind is the thought of not being able to check Facebook or Twitter for the rest of the day and it just tears you apart. After what seems to be the worse day ever your phone rings. Irritated and unable to see who is calling you angrily answer the call. Realizing it is your mother on the other line you immediately interrupt her to tell her it is dire that you get a new phone as soon as possible. After ignorantly insisting for a new phone your mother then informs you that your grandmother has severely fallen and it is not looking to good for her and she might not make it. Taken back you instantly realize how selfish and ungrateful you were acting. Sometimes people get caught up in materialistic things and lose sight of the true meaning of life. It is moments like these that bring us back to reality and remind us not to get caught up in the little things in life. With that in mind, Dr. Viktor Frankl does an exceptional job in Man’s Search for Meaning portraying the true meaning of life, which more often than not in our materialistic world many people lose sight of. Through his research and first hand experience in the concentration camps, Dr. Viktor Frankl is able to teach us that it is not the materialistic things in life that are important but in fact how we handle ourselves in certain situations. It is through research such as that done by Dr. Viktor Frankl that has provided one theory of how a meaningful life can be established. Dr. Frankl was a practicing psychiatrist when he and his family were arrested and taken to a Nazi concentration camp. His theory and form of therapy, called logotherapy was developed through his experiences and treatment at the various concentration camps, as well as what he witnessed through other prisoners. Other famous psychiatrists had different opinions. Freud believed in a will to pleasure and Adles a will to power. However, logotherapy is a belief that human motivation is based on a will to meaning. Frankl observced that people who held on to the hope that hey would have the opportunity to meet up with their family members, had some sort of unfinished work or project to complete or those who maintained a strong faith tended to have a better chance of survival (Boeree, webspace.shillp,edu).
Frankl lists work, love, and suffering as the three factors used in finding meaning in life. Meaning can be determined by doing some sort of deed, encountering someone, or experiencing something and the attitude taken towards suffering that is unavoidable (newworldencylcopedia.org). These factors were used in the development of his logotherapy theory. To Frankl “meaning is essential to happiness and success in life; the search for meaning both keeps away negativity and creates positive experiences in life” (Renata, ehow.com). Along with these fractors was a concept that Vikotr Frankl considered of major importance. That concept is conscience. He writes that it is “the core of our being and the source of our personal integrity” (Boeree, webspace.shillp.edu). Before detailing the importance of Frankls three factors in finding the meaning of life, I feel it is important to clarify the concept of conscience and its importance in determining the meaning and value of life. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines conscience as “the sense or the moral goodness of blameworthiness of one’s own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good; enjoying good acts: I feel that your conscience is the basis for the decisions you make, how you treat others and eventually determines the person that you become. There are no set rules or guidelines for a conscience. We must develop our own rules and guidelines and or values to fill the needs for what we personally feel to be the moral and correct decision for a purposeful life. Sometimes that could involve the trail and error of our daily existence. Regarding conscience, Frankl stated “It is conscience that “sniffs out” that which gives our lives meaning.”(Boeree, webspace.ship.edu). Franlk was faced with making a conscience decision that could have changed his entire life. He was given a choice to receive an immigration visa, which would allow him to leave Austria. However, that would come with a huge sacrifice because he would be leaving behind his parents whom he felt were destined to be sent to a concentration camp. He was torn between fulfilling his dream in his studies of logotherapy or fulfilling his duty and obligation to take care of his parents. His conscience seemed to speak to him when he came across a piece of paper that stated, “Honor they father and they mother that their days may be long upon the land”. Without another thought, he chose to stay with his mother and father (Frankl, 13).
The first way Frankl listed for people to make meaning of their lives is through work. It is his belief that a person who does not have some sort of job or who is bored can end up with a worthless or meaningless feeling. On the other hand, a person who has a goal they are working toward or are doing some type of work or deed that is fulfilling will be much happier and will achieve a sense of value. Work is not necessarily a career type “job”. It could be a good deed towards people in need or volunteer work. Frankl found his will towards his meaning in life in his desire to complete his manuscript that was taken from him. When Frankl arrived in the concentration camp in Auschwitz, his manuscript that he smuggled in his jacket was taken. “Certainly, my deep desire to write this manuscript anew helped me to survive the rigors of the camps I was in…I jotted down on little scraps of paper many notes intended to enable me to rewrite the manuscript, should I live to the day of liberation. I am sure that this reconstruction of my lost manuscript in the dark barracks of a Bavarian concentration camp assisted me in overcoming the danger of cardiovascular collapse” (Frankl, 110, 111).
The second way that Frankl lists to find meaning in ones life is through love. This love can be identified through a special relationship with a good friend, sibling or family member. It could also be the love of a wife/husband, boyfriend/girlfriend. Frankl made a point to recognize the danger that could be caused by people who were searching for their purpose or meaning through love but instead of finding the spiritual feeling of love, they would be caught in the web of a physical or “sexual” attraction to love. It was Frankl’s love for his wife that helped him cling to the meaning of his life. The thought of someday reuniting with her gave his life value. “But my mind clung to my wife’s image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun, which was beginning tgo rise…. I saw the truth….the truth that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire….In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his suffering in the right way, an honorable way, in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment” (Frankl, 48, 49). Even though Frankl was not physically with his wife, the thoughts of her and the feelings of true love enabled his will for his meaning of life to do what he had to survive so that he could be reunited with his love.
The final factor listed in Frankl’s search for their meaning of life is suffering and transformation. “We cannot avoid suffering but we can chose how to cope with it, find meaning in it and move forward with renewed purpose” (Frankl,). Frankl witnessed many instances of how people were able to transform their personal tragedies into something positive. Following are a few of his personal experiences. “We were grateful for the smallest of mercies. We were glad when there was time to delouse before going to bed although in itself this was no pleasure, as it meant standing naked in an unheated hut where icicles hung from the ceiling. But we were thankful if there was no air raid alarm and the lights were not switched off.” “I was again conversing silently with my wife, or perhaps I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, my slow dying. ….I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom. I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “YES” in an answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose (Frankl, 57). It was his belief that there was no escaping suffering in your life and that it was just a part of life that was to be expected. The ability for a person to change or transform the suffering into something meaningful was the best way to overcome the tragedy (Renata, ehow.com). “We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.” (Frankl, 116). Every person is born with the ability to give meaning to his or her life. Materialistic items such as cars, wealth and job status will give a temporary sense of purpose or value but it is not until one can rely on ones own conscience to make good decisions that will help whomever find what makes them happy, fulfilled and satisfied. Our will to help others in need (not just for compensation), to love unconditionally and to overcome adversity by turning something negative to positive will surely result in a life worth living and afford the understanding of the meaning and purpose of one’s life.

Bibliography
Boerre, George. "Viktor Frankl." Viktor Frankl. Shippinsburg University, 2006. Web. 5 Apr. 2013.
"ConscienceAbout Our Definitions: All Forms of a Word (noun, Verb, Etc.) Are Now Displayed on One Page." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.
Frankl, Viktor E. Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. Boston: Beacon, 1992. Print.
Renata, Rebeca. "Frankl's Three Avenues to Find Meaning." EHow. Demand Media, 17 Mar. 2011. Web. 5 Apr. 2013.
"Viktor Frankl." - New World Encyclopedia. Media Wiki, 9 May 2008. Web. 11 Apr. 2013.

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