Finding Meaning in Life!!

“The salvation of man is through love and in love”

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”- Nietzsche

The human mind is an enigma. It’s nearly impossible to understand the complexity of the human mind, and what I feel is that we create assumptions, theories and try to predict the nature of human beings but we can never be one hundred percent certain what’s going on in someone’s mind. I might be wrong. But till now my experiences of extremity in my life, readings of Behavioral sciences, self-help books, and also studying a little bit of psychology because one of my aunts did post-graduation in psychology and she used to narrate various stories to me in my childhood, compel me to think like this.

The recent passing away of Sushant Singh Rajput will always be a riddle because no one knows what was going on in his bright mind. Why would he do something like this? When he was like an inspiration to the younger generation and also quite intelligent, driven, hardworking, passionate about his work. Then how he didn’t find one reason to make his life meaningful at that moment when he felt broken from inside. Why did he feel emptiness and meaninglessness in his life? By the way, I am not here to comment on his life or anything because even I also used to look up to him as an inspiration. The author of this book and Sushant Singh Rajput had one common thing. They both quoted Nietzsche. The author has used the above-mentioned quote( “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how”) many times in the book. The main message of this book is hidden in this quote. If we have found out our ‘why’ to live, we can survive any circumstances in our life.

The author narrates his personal experience living as a prisoner in a concentration camp during the Holocaust period and makes the reader believe that whatever conditions and circumstances you face in your life, it’s up to you how you respond to it. It’s up to you not to give up and have hope. Because “You cannot control what happens to you in life. but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you,says the author. As the author kept himself alive and also kept himself hopeful, thinking about his wife and meeting her again and also dreamt of giving lectures about the psychological sessions to be learned from the Auschwitz experience.

As per the author’s finding, life is a quest for meaning and not a quest for pleasure or power as believed by Freud and Alfred Adler respectively. There are three sources of meaning to life, according to the author:

  • In work-doing something significant
  • In love-care for another person or by experiencing something; love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire for
  • In courage-in difficult time; the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering

This book has tremendously changed my perspective on life, love, suffering, and courage. Your work/passion can be the reason for your happiness and you don’t have to run for it, you have to dedicate yourself towards it. The author has a unique perspective on love. He was deeply in love with his wife even when he was not aware of her whereabouts or sure about her being alive. Because loving someone can be the reason for your life and you don’t need that person physically present or even alive to love that person, tells the author.

His thoughts about ‘suffering’ take you on a spiritual journey. If life has a meaning, then there must be a meaning in suffering. And if suffering has a meaning or a reason, it will not remain as suffering. I don’t know what best example I can give for this but somehow, when I was preparing for Civil services, It was really tough emotionally and financially both but I still remember those days as one of the best days of my life because I had one reason: I was chasing my dream. And no power on earth can take that ‘experience’ from me even if I didn’t get final selection in that examination even after appearing for interview twice.

“That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”

Nietzsche

And the best thing about suffering as told by the author is that we can never fathom someone else’s suffering because the size of human suffering is absolutely relative. But the most amazing thing is that a tiny thing/incident can give you the greatest joys of your life.

I really can’t compare this current pandemic to the situation of concentration camps but an analogy can definitely be drawn. Even in a terrible situation like living in a concentration camp when you never know when you will be sent to gas chambers, the author kept himself sane. Similarly, surviving during this pandemic is quite hard for everyone because it has turned everyone’s life upside down. However, this is the time we need to have the courage to survive and maybe narrate the ordeals of this pandemic to our future generations or to fulfill our dreams.

So the crux of this seven-decade and only 153 pages book is that “never-give-up” and keep faith in any kind of situation because it’s you who is in charge and it’s you who can control how you respond to that particular situation. Because as the author shows through his experience of dealing with patients, his fellow prisoners, and also with people who had attempted ‘self-harm’ in past that there is a close linkage between loss of hope and the state of immunity of the body and how it can have a lethal effect on your body. In the last few pages of his book, he also talks about his logo-therapy which literally means ‘to find a meaning in one’s life’ and how this therapy re-humanized psychiatry and became the third stream of psychotherapy.

If you have not found ‘meaning’ still in this blog, let me make it more clear to you: It’s us who have to change our ‘attitude’ towards life and it really does not matter what we expect from our life but rather what life expects from us. It’s us who will have to give meaning to our lives by taking the responsibility in finding the right answers to our quest to live.

20 thoughts on “Finding Meaning in Life!!

  1. How true……finding a purpose in life makes this journey meaningful. Many of us are defeated by the hollowness in our life. The need is to accept failures, pick up the threads of life, find a purpose and move ahead. Most important my success is defined by myself and not the world……then we will be at peace.

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  2. Received this comment via Whatsapp from my best friend Minaxi :

    Aptly summed up and wonderfully described the infinity of life. I think there are no parameters, logics, definitions or patterns for defining the meaning of life. How you want to live is all that matters and doing what matters the most is your love towards life you are living. This is true that we can not control what happens in life, but we can definitely control our outlook towards that happening. I totally agree with you on the “suffering” part which indeed is a spiritual journey transforming our course of life and true salvation lies in that journey. Psychologically we can never predict human mind 100% but we can definitely try deciphering it’s thought process. Endurance of human mind is beyond explanation. Hope of optimism is the best thing we can preach and practice, relishing out things that give solace to soul. Always decide for yourself and how you want to see the world around because no matter what everything comes to halt and things change for better. Like you have written in your previous blog, finding your IKIGAI will help you, immerge victoriously in life.

    No life is meaningless, and nothing else matters except the gift of life. Cherish your time and follow your heart ❤️

    P. S. ज़िन्दगी क्या है जानने के लिए, ज़िंदा रहना बहुत ज़रूरी है.।।

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  3. This is a beautifully written piece and an apt blend of philosophy and psychology. A very refreshing read in these trying times. I always have liked the fact that these posts of yours always seek to bring a smile of reassurance on the reader’s face. 🙂 keep up the good work of spreading kindness that is so sparse in this world😊

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  4. I love this statement: ““You cannot control what happens to you in life. but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you”. That’s my takeaway from this bog 🙂

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  5. I love this book, and I adored this post. I especially liked how you included, “we can never fathom someone else’s suffering because the size of human suffering is absolutely relative.”
    By not projecting our opinion of the magnitude of someone else’s suffering, it challenges us to refrain from judgement. I also think it challenges us to meet others where they are at rather than expecting them to meet our expectations.
    Mental health, or the lack of mental health, can be so difficult to articulate feelings of suffering, especially if there is not an environment where it is acceptable to do so. Which is why, when someone says their mental health is suffering, it is important to not project how we think they should feel.
    Finally, I appreciate how Frankl’s writing, and this post, challenges us to give ourselves hope and to see the best in all our circumstances.

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  6. Excellent blog . Very creatively written. It is a tough task to summarise 7 decade and 253 pages book. UPSC preparation experience comment is bang on!

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  7. Great read and great quotes. Finding meaning in life has always been of paramount importance. The feeling that one’s life has meaning can come from any number of things, such as committing ourselves to the pursuit of academic knowledge, focusing on doing our job to the best of our ability, committing ourselves to help others by doing some volunteer work or dedicating ourselves to raising a family. All of these are examples of worthwhile pursuits, but the more important point is that the actual purpose does not really matter. What matters a great deal more is that there is a purpose. Like you I spent some time exploring this fascinating subject and wrote a blog article about it https://authorjoannereed.net/how-to-find-meaning-in-life-the-secret-is-revealed/ – Feel free to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

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