“There are three main avenues on which one arrives at meaning in life. The first is by creating a work or doing a deed. The second is by experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love….Most important, however, is the third meaning in life: even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may ground beyond himself, and by so doing change himself.”
-Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning
One of life’s biggest questions is what is the meaning of life? Author Viktor Frankl, a person who lived and survived the Holocaust while the rest of his family had died, came to his own conclusion in answering this question and wrote about in his critically acclaimed book Man’s Search For Meaning. He wrote that there are three avenues to answering this question and they all rely on the decisions that we make. The first is by creating a work or by doing a deed. This essentially means giving your life purpose. What are you contributing to the world, to others and are they for the greater good in order to make that all important difference?
The second avenue is based on our own experiences as it relates to something or someone. His focus is on love and not necessarily work. I find his emphasis on love over work particularly powerful because it proves that the old adage “love conquers all” is indeed true. Work has its place but does not rank higher than love. Loving others, including yourself while also loving each of the precious moments that you experience is what truly shows the meaning of life that we all seek. In doing so we will have lived a fulfilled life.
The third and last avenue is in his words the most important: the power of our own self will, grit and perseverance with any challenge that we may face. It is through our choice to rise or stay grounded leads to us ultimately changing ourselves as to who we are and what we stand for or believe in. If we fail to continuously look to change ourselves for the better and remain stagnant, we will have missed what life is all about: learning more about ourselves and growing into who we were truly destined to become.
These three avenues are not a can do but a must do in order to really understand the meaning of our lives. Don’t avoid taking each of these paths to discovering who you are and what your true potential essentially is.
What does this quote mean to you and how can you apply today’s message towards developing your responsible decision making skills?