Meaning, or “coherence” as others call it, is not something that is just waiting to be found, but something that we create or choose to ascribe in our given situation.
But first, how do we understand the query “What is the meaning of life?” Generally, it pertains to the significance, value, or worthiness of our life or existence – or related to the question, “Does life really matter?” In the local lingo, “May saysay ba ang buhay?”
In particular, “meaning in or of life” seeks to answer the corollary questions: What is life all about? Who are we, and why are we here? What is the purpose of our existence?
Canadian psychologist and professor Paul T.P. Wong defines personal meaning of life as a socially and individually constructed system which can be comprehensively conceived in terms of P.U.R.E. – Purpose, Understanding, Responsible action, and Enjoyment, thus:
You need to choose a worthy PURPOSE or a significant life goal.
You need to have sufficient UNDERSTANDING of who you are, what life demands of you, and how you can play a significant role in life.
You and you alone are RESPONSIBLE for deciding what kind of life you want to live, and what constitutes a significant and worthwhile life goal.
You will ENJOY a deep sense of significance and satisfaction only when you have exercised your responsibility for self-determination and actively pursue a worthy life-goal.
Now, how do we create meaning in our life?
Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (d. 1997), in his bestselling book “Man’s Search For Meaning,” wrote about his ordeal as a concentration camp inmate during the World War II. Frankl found that those who survived longest in the concentration camp were not those who were physically strong, but those who retained a sense of control over their environment.
He observed: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances – to choose one’s own way.”
Tellingly, Frankl’s message is one of hope: Even in the most absurd, painful, and dispiriting of circumstances, life can still be given a meaning, and so too can suffering. Life in the concentration camp (where his mother and brother were brutally murdered in gas chambers) taught Frankl that our main drive or motivation in life is neither pleasure nor power, but meaning.
After his release, Frankl founded the school Logotheraphy (from Greek “logos” which means “reason” or “principle”), which aims to carry out an existential analysis of the person and, in so doing, help him/her uncover or discover meaning for his/her life.
For Frankl, meaning can be created through:
Embracing reality by interacting with the environment and with others.
Giving something back to the world through creativity and self-expression.
Changing our attitude when faced with a situation or circumstance that we cannot change.
In sum, Frankl stressed: “The point is not what we expect from life, but rather what life expects from us.”
#InspiredAndBlessed #BobAcebedo #CreatingMeaningInLife #Meaning #Life #PaulTPWong #ViktorFrankl #Inspiration #OpinYonColumn #OpinYon #WeTakeAStand