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Posts Tagged ‘why’

It has taken some time to get around to writing about this pocket-sized book, and that is because reading it once isn’t enough. Seeing as it has sold over 12 million copies, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl is bound to be in one of your bookshelves. If it is, I highly recommend fishing it out and having a squiz (that’s Australian slang for ‘taking a look’). Otherwise locate a copy in the nearest (online or physical) bookstore and pop it into your shopping basket.

Viktor Frankl chronicles his experiences of surviving in concentration camps during WWII and writes about finding hope and meaning when humanity seems at its worst. He details his psychotherapeutic method of finding meaning and explains three psychological phases of the concentration inmate’s reaction to this painful suffering.

The book is divided in two parts with a postscript added in 1984, ‘Experiences in a Concentration Camp,’ ‘Logotheraphy in a Nutshell’ and ‘The Case for a Tragic Optimism.’ I can’t say it was enjoyable reading about the horrors of camp life, the atrocities of the war and the degradation of fellow human beings. Nevertheless, this is an amazing testimony to the strength of human spirit and the tragic optimist who sees hope when utter despair and pain has broken so many others.

Frankl writes using an unusual combination of a personal and clinical style of writing, fostered by his practise as a psychoanalyst. He discusses his idea of meaning and explains his psychotherapeutic theory of logotheraphy.

In brief, according to logotheraphy meaning can be discovered by:
1. creating a work or doing a deed
2. experiencing something or encountering someone (such goodness, beauty, nature, culture, and loving someone)
3. the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering

The meaning of life differs from man to man, from day-to-day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment… One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.

There is so much I can share about this book; the way it made my heart swell sometimes, or choke back tears at other times. The spiritual strength and belief which blossomed despite the repeated attempts to crush it. The reality check and renewed appreciation for my own life. And the feeding of my hunger and longing to search for meaning and becoming a better person.

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This photograph was taken by my friend when we roamed on the rocks that shape the end of the beach. It was a beautiful day.

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During this last week of February, of summer, and a crazy busy schedule, I unexpectedly encountered a few acquaintances along my way. I ended up chatting with one of them for nearly an hour, as we spanned a broad range of topics and whiled away the dull ride that is public transport. I often glanced at the commuters around us, as they averted their gaze and pretend to be oblivious to our conversation – I am sure that at least one of my comments is bound to end up in mX Overheard (a section of the free metropolitan train newspaper).

As we each parted to go on our separate ways my first thoughts were about my impressions and what it was that I left. After some analysing I began thinking about my reaction or thought processes (yes, I analysed my analysis) – and I thought about the different ways in which one thinks about the exact same situation.

Do I think about the impression I left?

Do I think about what impression that person has left on me?

Or perhaps I start to think about the delicious lunch I have packed, the sparkly dress I saw in the shop-front and all the work I have for today.

Which of these is your first reaction?

_______________

Photo: Caiti Ann http://www.flickr.com/photos/caitianne/3660558349/

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I was spring cleaning my inbox yesterday, when I came across these questions (below) that got me thinking about the way I used to think, the way I currently think and how I am re-thinking this sentence.

Are you asking yourself different questions now than your younger self?

If so, there could be a number of reasons, including a greater understanding of the world, learning answers as we grow; or that some questions become irrelevant, others too painful and perhaps some that even the greatest philosophers debate.

It is healthy to ask questions, even though it can be quite exhausting at times; especially when the answer is not pleasing or simply missing.

The following questions had me smiling, scratching my head and thinking…

 🙂

 Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are dead?

 

Why do banks charge a fee on “insufficient funds” when they know there is not enough money in the account?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

Why doesn’t glue stick to the bottle?

Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why is it that no matter what colour bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?

Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?

Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialised?

Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuüm cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuüm one more chance?

Why is it that plastic bags do not open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into those enclosed light fixtures?

Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that’s falling off the table you manage to knock something else over?

In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you don’t hear father-in-law jokes?

And my favourite…

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends if they’re okay, then it’s you.

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