Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Frankl: Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness

Emily Esfahani Smith. "A Psychiatrist Who Survived The Holocaust Explains Why Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness." The Atlantic. Oct. 22, 2014, 2:55 PM.
  • People who spent more time thinking about the future or about past struggles and sufferings felt more meaning in their lives.
  • Meaning ... is enduring. It connects the past to the present to the future. 
  • People who have meaning in their lives, in the form of a clearly defined purpose, rate their satisfaction with life higher even when they were feeling bad than those who did not have a clearly defined purpose. "If there is meaning in life at all," Frankl wrote, "then there must be meaning in suffering."
  • Partly what we do as human beings is to take care of others and contribute to others.
  • Frankl worked as a therapist in the camps, and in his book, he gives the example of two suicidal inmates he encountered there. Like many others in the camps, these two men were hopeless and thought that there was nothing more to expect from life, nothing to live for. "In both cases," Frankl writes, "it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them; something in the future was expected of them."
  • This uniqueness and singleness which distinguishes each individual and gives a meaning to his existence has a bearing on creative work as much as it does on human love.

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