“It is not about what we can expect from life but rather “What life can expect from us”, Viktor E. Frankl.
How would our world look like if all people had the understanding that life should not fulfill our hopes, but instead it’s life that asks us to respond to the challenges it gives to develop our spiritual muscles or inner strengths, in order to live a life at our highest possible level? That it’s by giving life a responsible answer that the meaning of life is discovered?
Life has meaning under all circumstances also when blow of fate hits hard
The Austrian professor of neurology and psychiatry, Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) has in his many works written precisely about the meaning of life and that man’s actual inner drive is the quest for a meaning of life. His first published book, “Ein Psycholog erlebt das Konzentrationslager” (eng.” Man’s Search for Meaning”) from 1946 has been sold in 10 million copies and translated into 24 languages. In the book, Frankl tells about his survival from four German concentration camps during World War II, and he emphasizes that life has meaning under all circumstances also when blow of fate hits hard.
Already in his youth Viktor Frankl developed what is known as the third Vienna School of Psychotherapy, and he dubbed his concept “Logotherapy.” “Logos” is a Greek word which denotes “meaning”, but it has a much broader sense in logotherapy. Here “Logos” stands for humanity, the meaning of being human, and man’s search for meaning.
The concept is both philosophy, theory and method. It can be used at many areas both within health / illness, sorrow / crises, work / leadership and education and not least in everyday life with the bumps and challenges that manifest in the lives of all people.
When you have found all that is right about you, you find meaning and your growth potential
In many ways, Logotherapy is a misleading term, because logos is easily misunderstood, and therapy implies the curing of sickness, which is only one part of Logotherapy’s function. It is much more an analysis of what our existence is all about, and how we can live at our highest possible level.
It is much more a method to maintain health through a world view that stresses what is right with us rather than what is wrong, it stresses our humanness, our growth potential.
Our existence is not invented by ourselves, it is discovered by ourselves
If you asked the question “What is the meaning of life? to Viktor Frankl, he would say that the answer does not exist. Our existence is not invented by ourselves, it is discovered by ourselves.
What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a give moment. For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day, from hour to hour.
When you reach out for someone or something that is greater than yourself, you meet meaning
From a logo-theoretical perspective, it is always possible to find meaning of your life. The focal point is that when you reach out for someone or something that is greater than yourself, you will meet the meaning.
Frank was worried that much of what he saw in society around him was a lack of meaning and a sense of inner emptiness. Despite the development of technology and a much more comfortable lifestyle than many our parents and more distant ancestors had, something is missing. Frankl denoted this “existential vacuum” which appears as a feeling of boredom, emptiness and meaninglessness – What Frankl saw at that time still holds true!
Much of our suffering is unnecessary and caused by our own expectations. We expect life to fulfill our hopes and self-realization and happiness have become an end in itself. But the more focus you put on this, the more you can be sure not to achieve it.
Through suffering we manifest our values, it is our commitment as human beings
In logotherapy human existence can never be completely worthless, human life retains its meaning as long as it breathes. As long as it is conscious, it has responsibility for values, and has the ability to fulfill values and thereby live a meaningful life. Your commitment to realizing values does not escape before you stop breathing.
We can not pass through life without suffering and change. Life forces us constantly to make choices, reassess our values and to change. Through suffering we manifest our values, it is our commitment as human beings.
Viktor Frankl pointed out that we are called to live with authenticity or integrity to fulfill our destiny, our unique meaning, and life offers the opportunity to discover meaning in any situation. The task of uncovering them is ours.
I hold lectures and courses based on the concept “Logotherapy” by Viktor Frankl. I work with the concept in the following areas:
- Meaning at Work: The workplace and everything it implies: Collaboration, management and board work – integrating the will into meaning both in strategic work and at operational level.
- Meaning in Life: Everyday life, which we all go through with ups and downs – dealing with stress, frustration and crises – getting through them and finding meaning in them and discovering new directions.
- Meaning in Health: How to find meaning when you suffer from illness, including incurable disease and to face death.
- Meaning at Education: How the concept of logotherapy can be used both in a pedagogic context and how it can be supportive for greater motivation and prevent drop-out.
- Meaning in Research and Projects: I participate in different projects. It can be anything from partner participation to coordination and management, and I also do research assignments.
If you would like to hear more, feel free to contact me for an informal talk.