” 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..” This statement was written by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning in 1946 after being interned in a Nazi concentration camp and losing his family to the brutal hands of others. In 1991, 45 years later, his book was selected by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the -Month Club as one of 10 most influential books in the U.S. Truth is, indeed, both ageless and timeless.
A salient point he made was that when we have a purpose in life, something greater or bigger than ourselves to be concerned about we can endure whatever life presents to us. It helps us keep perspective on the day to day events in our lives as we keep our eyes focused on a more expansive vision of possibilities for tomorrow.
Frankl also reflected on the topic of happiness and its relationship to a purpose driven life. We constantly hear the message about the importance of being happy. Makes sense since positive energy is involved in happiness. However, there is something much bigger than simply feeding the beast inside of us that says,’ I want… and then I will be happy. Do this, buy that and then I will be happy.’ That approach may fuel our economy but it doesn’t fuel our soul.
The idea of purpose, of making a difference in our families, friends and world is what keeps excitement in our lives and helps us develop into more fully functioning individuals. Simply doing things to make ourselves happy requires more and more fuel (things, money, experiences) to keep going. Having a purpose in life, however, gives us a never ending supply of energy because it comes from the Universal Source. We have all heard of the adage, ‘You get out of life what you give – no more no less.’ What a simple and elegant truth to consider.
Show me a person whose purpose is to be involved in life, seeing tomorrow with possibilities and helping others along the way and I will show you a person who has a happy AND meaningful life. They look forward to tomorrow with excitement, appreciation, and hope. That is a powerful elixir for life.
We are all here to learn unique lessons in this lifetime. Learning to move past simply making ourselves happy and into a purpose driven life is the answer to our own personal fulfillment and to a life well-lived.
Have a great few days!