Logotherapy says that mental health arises when we learn how to close
the gap between what we are and what we could become. But what if we
are yet to identify what we could become? Frankl noted that the modern
person has almost too much freedom to deal with. We no longer live
through instinct, but tradition is no guide either. This is the existential
vacuum, in which the frustrated will to meaning is compensated for in
the urge for money, sex, entertainment, even violence. We are not open to
the various sources of meaning, which according to Frankl are:
1 Creating a work or doing a deed.
2 Experiencing something or encountering someone (love).
3 The attitude we take to unavoidable suffering.
The first is a classic source, defined as “life purpose” in the self-help literature.
Our culture expects happiness, yet Frankl says that this is not
something that we should seek directly. He defines happiness as a byproduct
of forgetting ourselves in a task that draws on all our imagination
The second is important as it makes experience (inner and outer) a
legitimate alternative to achievement in a society built around achieving.
The third gives suffering a meaning, but what meaning? Frankl admits
that we may never know, or at least not until later in life. Just because
we do not comprehend meaning, it does not mean that there is none.
To the people who say that life is meaningless because it is transitory,
Frankl’s response is “only the unfulfilment of potential is meaningless,
not life itself.” Our culture worships the young, yet it is age
that is to be admired, since the older person has loved, suffered, and
fulfilled so much. Fulfillment of your own potential, however humble,
will make a permanent imprint on the history of the world, and the
decision to make that imprint defines responsibility. Freedom is only
one half of the equation. The other half is responsibility to act on it.
Written by Victor Frankl and Posted by Motivationaltalks