“Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain, but rather to see meaning in his life,” thus wrote Viktor Frankl in his bestselling book, “Man’s Search For Meaning”.
Life, therefore, is not just about attaining success or avoiding failure, not just seeking for fleeting happiness in wealth, fame, power, glory, or influence – it is more profoundly about finding MEANING in this life and achieving significance in what we do.
Finding meaning is discovering who we are, our full potential, and our purpose. By finding our real self and embracing our purpose, we will find significance and happiness in whatever we do.
Nothing is unbeatable in this life – painful failures, crushing defeats, disastrous choices, broken relationships, shattered dreams, agonizing disappointments, and frustrations, etc. – so long as we find significance or meaning for its existence.
By the same token, nothing is devoid of meaning so long as it exists. As the oft quoted truism goes, “everything happens for a reason”.
But, it’s we who give those reasons. In other words, we could take control of our deplorable situations by consciously giving reasons and meanings to their occurrences.
What are the sources of a meaningful life? Emily Esfahani Smith, writer and psychology instructor, says there are four.
These are: (1) belongingness or valuing others and finding people who value us; (2) finding our purpose; (3) experiencing transcendence, and (4) being in control of our life story.
True “belonging” springs from love and it is a choice. This can be seen between ourselves and our family, friends, and the people who matter most to us.
Purpose is less about what we want than what we give, and its key is “using our strength to serve others”. Purpose gives us the reason to live and move forward.
Transcendence is rising above ourselves and connecting to a higher reality (e.g. faith in God, passion in doing something for a higher good or cause).
Being in control of our life story is accepting the truth that we are its author, that we can take responsibility for all our choices and actions.
By interpreting, editing and retelling our story, we create a narrative that helps us understand our life in a meaningful way.
Peace ye! Let’s therefore aim not just for a successful life, but for a meaningful one.
After all, at life’s end, what matters most is not how much we have acquired, attained or achieved, but how much we have loved and how happy we have lived a meaningful and satisfying life.