How to Live a Meaningful Life – Part 1
I’d like to start by giving you a bit of background into why I chose this topic. I’m a great believer in synchronicity and in being provided with the information that we need at the right time.
I was in a little store and I came across a book that caught my attention, and it’s entitled Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl.
Let me give you the backstory on this by quoting the description on the back so that you know something about this book.
“Psychologist Victor Frankel’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with his descriptions of life in Nazi death camps, and its lessons for spiritual survival. Based on his own experience and the stories of his patients, Frankel argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it and move forward. At the heart of his theory, known as logotherapy, is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. Man’s Search For Meaning has become one of the most influential books in America; it continues to inspire us all to find significance in the very act of living.”
What is a Meaningful Life?
I want to start by quoting a passage from the book, in a section called The Will to Meaning which explains what meaning in life is all about. I’m also going to share a couple of other extracts from the book.
Obviously, in a book that’s talking about people’s experiences in Nazi death camps and concentration camps, it’s an extreme example, but it underlines the principle of how we have the power to choose how we experience things in every situation, even the direst, challenging, most horrific ones.
This passage is a section in the back of the book where Frankl is talking about his practice of psychotherapy and logotherapy.
“Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a ‘secondary rationalization’ of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone. Only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning. There are some authors who contend that meanings and values are ‘nothing but defense mechanisms, reaction formations and sublimations’. But as for myself, I would not be willing to live merely for the sake of my ‘defense mechanisms’, nor would I be ready to die merely for the sake of my ‘reaction formations’. Man, however, is able to live and even to die for the sake of his ideals and values!
A public opinion poll was conducted a few years ago in France. The results showed that 89% of the people polled admitted that man needs ‘something’ for the sake of which to live. Moreover, 61% conceded that there was something, or someone, in their own lives for whose sake there were even ready to die. I repeated this poll at my hospital department in Vienna, among both the patients and the personnel, and the outcome was practically the same as among the thousands of people screened in France, the difference was only 2 percent.
Another statistical survey of 7948 students at forty-eight colleges was conducted by social scientists from John Hopkins University. Their preliminary report is part of a two-year study sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. Asked what they considered ‘very important’ to them now, 16 percent of the students checked ‘making a lot of money’; 78 percent said their first goal was ‘finding a purpose and meaning to my life’.”
The conclusion is that meaning is one of the key factors in achieving a fulfilling and happy life. In fact, it’s actually listed as one of the key elements in achieving happiness on the positive psychology website – www.authentichappiness.org. So, it’s widely accepted that meaning in life is a key factor in the quality of life.
So let me move on to another section of the book because it’s highlighting points that I want to expand on later
This section has a quote from Nietzsche,
“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”
Frankl goes on to say:
“We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life and instead to think of ourselves as those who are being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
What he’s saying is that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. And this comes back to one of the common themes that I like to explore which is higher purpose. What this short passage is saying is that life is presenting us with situations that, in his words, question us. It’s about life’s challenges, and how we respond to those challenges.
What is our Higher Purpose?
My belief is that our highest purpose here is to grow and develop and the only way we can grow and develop is through our responses to challenges. This is why I talk about evolutionary catalysts; that the problems and challenges that we face in life are really there to stimulate us to accept the challenges, and respond to them in a way that takes us to the next level of evolution rather than cursing our luck and saying “the world’s against me” and “things are tough” and “life’s awful” etc.
We can shift our perspective and our attitude to these challenges and deal with them in a much more positive way.
So, let me go on to the final passage that I want to share with you. These are the key themes that I want to explore more fully.
“The experiences of Camp life show that man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
And there were always choices to make every day, every hour offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom, which determined whether or not you become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”
Obviously, he’s relating this to his experiences in a concentration camp, but the same is true of us in any circumstance, that we have a choice every day to decide whether we’re going to become a victim of circumstance or whether we’re going to step into our power and really use our power to make conscious choices.
How to Make Conscious Choices
My favorite process is the power of neutrality. If we approach everything with neutrality, we can then choose whether to react negatively, “poor me, I’m a victim”, or are we going to choose the positive approach of saying, “okay, I’m in this situation, what can I learn from it?” and “how can I achieve the outcome that I want from this situation”. By taking a positive approach, you’re focusing your power on a forward movement rather than getting stuck in victimhood.
Going back to what I mentioned about positive psychology, the definition of meaning from their perspective is:
“Knowing your highest strengths, and using them in the service of something larger than you.”
In other words, self-knowledge is the first step, because unless you know your strengths how can you use them?!
This is important because it relates to a much, much bigger picture, which is conscious evolution and the ascension process.
Conscious Evolution and the Ascension Process
Meaning in life is very much related to service to others, not just service to self. It is by choosing service to others rather than service to self that we are choosing light over dark and walking the path to ascension.
We get a lot of satisfaction and a feeling of fulfillment when we help others. The universal law of giving and receiving is a never-ending cycle and giving and receiving are actually the same. This puzzled me, to begin with; how can giving and receiving be the same? But if you think about it, when you give something to somebody from the heart, and they respond with gratitude, you’re not only giving but you’re receiving. And the same with the recipient, they’re not only receiving but they’re also giving.
If you think about the quality of that experience, in terms of the joy that you get from feeling like you’ve done something positive for somebody else, it’s one of the ultimate pleasures that adds meaning to life to know that you’ve done something for somebody else.
This article is an edited extract from the transcript of the Cosmic Creating Show on December 14th, 2019. I’ll be continuing this topic in future posts but if you want the whole story now you can listen to the show below.
In this show, I also talk more about the importance of self-knowledge and discovering your life and soul purpose. I have created a workbook for discovering your purpose – the Life Purpose Formula. If you’d like to explore your life purpose and discover your “highest strengths” you can download a copy of the Life Purpose Formula HERE.
Jan Shaw – The Success Alchemist, is a Spiritual Empowerment and Intuitive Success Coach, Success Strategist and Mindfulness and Manifestation Mentor and can be found at www.thesuccessalchemist.net. She delivers intuitive guidance, spiritual and metaphysical teaching, plus life and business strategies, to support you in fulfilling your Soul Mission and Life Purpose. Get your FREE copy of her Dream Achievers Success Kit or apply for a complimentary Success Strategy Session. Her book Empowered Manifestation is available on Amazon. Visit her YouTube Channel for more tips, tools, and training. You can also visit her Facebook Page and join her Facebook Group, Breakthrough to Brilliance. Jan also hosts the Cosmic Creating Show every Saturday on Cosmic Reality Radio.