“It is a peculiarity of man that he can only live by looking to the future... And this is his salvation in the most difficult moments of his existence, although he sometimes has to force his mind to the task.” — Viktor Frankl
We all live for today by finding value in tomorrow.
Frankl experienced this first hand in four concentration camps over three years. He and other prisoners found refuge in the past but required a meaningful future to live. Those who lost faith in the future quickly deteriorated toward a swift end.
Nietzsche sums up Frankl’s experience beautifully: “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.” These words encapsulate both a truism and a potent recipe for recovery.
Having a “why” to live for forms the kernel of Frankl’s logotherapy, a psychotherapy rooted in the quest for one's meaning in life as the primary motivator, not pleasure or power. Finding meaning in tomorrow makes the struggles of today bearable.
Without a meaningful future, we humans experience an “existential vacuum.” This vacuum is a deep, gnawing emptiness that no amount of empty pleasures can fill. We circle it like a rock in a decaying orbit around a black hole.
Without a meaningful future, the pull of the existential vacuum claims us in the end.
Meaning is the cure to unnecessary suffering and the empty pleasures that feed it. It is a soothing balm for an anguished soul. It is the true path to lasting happiness and fulfillment.
If you or someone in your life suffers from chronic anxiety, sadness, depression, low self-esteem and other common neuroses, consider the following questions:
What is meaningful in my life?
What or who am I thankful for?
What leaves me feeling full and truly alive?
Answering those questions is your life’s quest. We are all of great value, not merely useful. That value lies in the healing powers of meaning.
Find your meaning!