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Imagine that you are stuck in one of the worst condition possible for a human being to live in. Imagine how it would feel to be utterly helpless, to have no end in sight, and have no hope. Why would you want to go on in such a situation? How can you even find the will to go on?
This is what Victor Frankl was forced to confront when he was in a concentration camp during the holocaust in the 1940s. He was living under brutal conditions, and every basic human right was stripped away from him. He did not know about the safety of his family members, and the odds of survival were extremely low, 1 in 28 to be exact.
And inspite of living in these conditions, he found a meaning to his life. That is astounding, and it is certainly something that we can learn something from.
Now most of us have never faced such brutality in our lives, and hopefully we won’t ever have to. But we do deal with our own problems in our lives on a smaller scale. And if you’re an intellectual, which if you’re watching this video you probably are, you must have at some point in your life, pondered the meaning of life.
According to the author, there are three ways in which we can find meaning in our lives.
1. Work. 2. love. 3. Suffering.
A lot of people find meaning in their work, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Infact a huge part of how I give meaning to my life is through this youtube channel, this is my work.
A lot of people find meaning through love. It could be love for their children, or a romantic partner. According to victor frankl, love is the highest goal a man can aspire to, and I don’t disagree with that. If you’ve experienced love, you know that it’s a divine feeling that can make you reconsider your entire view of the world. The right kind of love can turn a whole person’s life around. Victor was able to survive the concentration camp because he kept thinking about his wife. His love for her was so pure and divine, that it didn’t even matter if she was alive. All that mattered was that he could give meaning to his love.
We cannot always control what kind of work we have to do, and we cannot always be in love. However, there is one thing that is guaranteed in life, and that is suffering. At some point or another, you will suffer. Suffering is inevitable, and the sooner you make peace with this fact, the better.
And here’s the best part, giving meaning to your suffering, is the most superior way of giving your life meaning. Now just to be clear, you don’t have to suffer intentionally, that’s not heroic it’s masochistic. Your priority should always be to eliminate or decrease the suffering. But for those moments when you cannot remove suffering and you have to endure, that’s when you give your suffering meaning. And that’s how you get the strength to carry on.
The author tells us that in the concentration camps, everyone was thinking will we survive this concentration camp, because if we don’t then all this suffering has no meaning.
Now victor frankl tell us to think about it this way. Suffering has to have meaning irrespective of survival. Because If it doesn’t, then there is no point in survival in the first place, because a life whose meaning depends such happenstance like survival, ultimately has no meaning at all.
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