Finding Meaning in Tough Times

Viktor Frankl’s book “Yes to Life” inspired by his time spent incarcerated in a World War II concentration camp takes on meaning even in our coronavirus isolation.  It is summed up in the foreword:

“Happiness in itself does not qualify as such a purpose; pleasures do not give our life meaning. In contrast, he points out that even the dark and joyless episodes of our lives can be times when we mature and find meaning.

There are three main ways people find fulfillment of their life meaning, in Frankl’s view. First, there is action, such as creating a work, whether art or a labor of love—something that outlasts us and continues to have an impact.

Second, he says, meaning can be found in appreciating nature, works of art, or simply loving people; Frankl cites Kierkegaard, that the door to happiness always opens outward. The third lies in how a person adapts and reacts to unavoidable limits on their life possibilities, such as facing their own death or enduring a dreadful fate like the concentration camps.  In short, our lives take on meaning through our actions, through loving, and through suffering.”

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