Printed on Thursday, February 16, 2017
We must walk our paths to the finish, alone, everyone by himself. No one and nothing can help usâ€”thatâ€™s exactly what counts: that we find our paths by ourselves.
My Name is:
My Meanings of the Moment / Purposes are:
Journal / Caught Thoughts to Remember:
Table of Contents Before the War .................................................................... 7 The War ............................................................................. 11 After the War .................................................................... 24 Key Takeaways .................................................................. 28 Summary of Logotherapy .................................................. 30 On the Meaning of Life ......................................... 30 On the Meaning of Death ..................................... 31 On the Meaning of Suffering ................................. 31 On the Meaning of Work ..................................... 32 On the Meaning of Love ........................................ 33 Basic Rules ........................................................................ 34 Basic Tenets of Franklian Psychology................................ 35 Self-Help Questions ........................................................... 36 Self-Guide to Will to Meaning ........................................... 38 Meaning Centered Exercises ............................................. 41 Meaning of the Moment ................................................... 42 Meaning Triangle .............................................................. 42 Guideposts to Meaning ..................................................... 43 Viktor Frankl Quotes ......................................................... 46
Before the War:
ktor Frankl was born on March 26, 1905, in Vienna Austria which is about a 7-hour drive from Germany.
Viktor was the middle of 3 children born to parents who were hardworking middle-class citizens. During the first World War his
family lost everything and Viktor and his siblings occasionally had to beg the nearby farmers for food. Viktor was always a curious, gifted, talented little boy who was wise beyond his years. It is said that even at the young age of 4, he knew he wanted to be a doctor. In high school, Viktor was involved in school activities and student groups. He soon figured
out that he had a great interest in people’s personalities and behaviors. In 1925, a year after he graduated, he met the “father of psychology”, Dr. Sigmund Freud. Soon after, he met another famous doctor of psychology named Alfred Adler. Although these two men were important to the development of Viktor’s career, he realized that he did not totally agree with their theories and beliefs about why people acted the way they did. About a year after he met these two famous Psychotherapists, he opened cost-free counseling clinics for teens in six cities in Austria. He was still studying medicine and in 1930 earned his MD degree, but continued training in neurology (study of the 7
nervous system). He was put in charge of ward for women who were suicidal at a hospital, and he taught them the importance of life. He was interested in the value of life even back then. It was about this time when Viktor had been speaking at a public health meeting and he used the term “Logotherapy” for the first time. Logotherapy: Logo=Greek for Meaning; English: Meaning Therapy
e more Viktor knew and understood about people the more he realized people needed meaning and
purpose in their lives. Viktor said without meaning and purpose, people felt hopeless and worthless. He believed people are naturally pulled by a “will to meaning”. What this means is, people, can and will feel in their spirit, what their calling is at this moment in time. While future goals are important, Viktor believed if we could find the meaning right now in this moment, then we could find meaning for future goals. He set these basic values for us to understand better what Logotherapy means:
Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what 8
we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of suffering we cannot control. Viktor also believed we can find meaning in three different ways:
Creating a work or doing a good deed. Basically, putting something positive out into the world.
By experiencing something or meeting someone new. This helps to create “meaning in the moment”.
The attitude we take when faced with something hard in our life. It is a freedom that nobody can take from us! We choose how we act in any situation. 9
ring this time, as Viktor was coming up with his new school of thought, he started writing a book
(The Doctor and The Soul), became head of a hospital and got married. It was also the time when World War II was breaking out. Viktor would soon find out how important his new theory would become, not just for others, not just as a doctor, but for himself.
Little did he realize that it would be the smuggling of this book’s manuscript into his cell, the hiding of it, the discovering and discarding of it, and the reconstruction of it from his memory that would give his life "meaning" and keep him alive. The War
25 September 1942, Frankl, his pregnant wife, and his parents were deported to the Nazi There-
sienstadt Ghetto (Concentration Camp). There Frankl worked as a doctor in a clinic. When his skills in psychiatry were noticed, he was assigned to a psychiatric care ward where, in the face of constant denial and threat, he was able to establish a camp ser-
vice of mental health care. Because of Viktor’s previous discovery of the power of uncovering one’s meaning in life he quickly organized a unit to help camp newcomers to overcome shock and grief so that he could show them hope even in the face of unavoidable suffering. In his second, and most famous book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” Viktor writes about the importance of his first book that he was writing when he was captured and incarcerated, hiding it and trying to smuggle it out of the concentration camp. He knew that he needed to hold on to it because the Nazi’s stripped him of everything else, his home, wife, parents, job, everything, and 11
this was all he had left. It worked. It gave him a temporary meaning and it kept him alive. After they finally found it and discarded it, he soon realized they could take away the actual book, but they could not take away the contents of the book from his memory. He also realized his incarceration was an opportunity to put his beliefs into action. To see living proof of his ideas about learning through experience, about creating values in the worst of situations and the freedom to choose what you do with it. He also got ahold of another meaning and purpose for his life, one of helping those around him survive by teaching them what he had found to be essential to his own life of purpose, even in the face of unavoidable suffering. So he pursued this “helping others” with a passion, because he knew that his own life would be endangered if he did not fulfill this valuable purpose. To Viktor it was possible because he had uncovered the formula: “any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength had first to succeed in showing him some future goal”. And so he developed a technique of being able to listen attentively to his fellow suffer-
er’s stories to help them locate and focus in on any usable future event that would give them a spark of hope that he could help fan into a flame. As it came to pass, those were the ones who would survive, just about the only ones. Later he further endangered himself by pushing the guards to allow him to set up a sui12
cide watch so that he could rescue those who were so devoid of purpose, meaning, and hope that they couldnâ€™t wait for the Nazis to kill them . . . they wanted to kill themselves, but Viktor was
able to rescue those of them who would listen to him and participate in the simple process of uncovering any of their purposes or meanings. In fact, they would be restored from suicidal tendencies to psychologically healthy almost immediately! On one occasion he was approached by a fellow inmate, an ac13
complished composer in his prior life, who was buoyant about the belief he had acquired from a dream that all of them would
be liberated on March 30th. The belief, valid or not, kept him energized and positive right up until the day his prophecy had told him that the war and suffering would be over for him. When it didnâ€™t happen he became delirious and lost consciousness. On March thirty-first, the very next day, he was dead. The sudden 14
loss of hope and courage had the same deadly effect on him that it had wreaked on thousands of other souls who could not navigate the treacherous journey between what they expected and what they were experiencing. The fall into the “existential vacuum” can only be avoided through discovery of meaning and quick maneuvering when one must be substituted for another.
ktor talks about the “Capo’s” in the camps. They were regular people, Jewish, like all the other prison-
ers, except they were willing to cooperate with the Nazi’s, and do what it took to survive. They stole food from the prisoners (who were already starving), they abused the women and children, they lead people to the gas chambers and they eventually ended up there themselves. Viktor writes that survival at any cost, is simply death prolonged. Maybe we come out alive and breathing, but we die a little on the inside when we go against the grain. Although most of the prisoners hated the trustees, Viktor understood why they turned on their own people. As humans it is in our nature to do what it takes to live, he also understood clearly that holding true to your spirit was even more important. He believed it is through our spirit that we actually live and thrive as a part of the “human community”. We cannot give up who we are, or what we feel in our heart and mind to be right because we are in a situation we might not understand at the 15
moment. Instead we try to make the most of it, we change our attitude from being angry or confused as to “why” this might be happening and grow from it. Viktor says, “When we can’t change our situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor says when he and the others arrived at the prison, everything was taken from them, giving the prisoners an opportunity to become who and what they choose. Some chose to give up, some fought for survival (like the trustee’s), through any means necessary and others like Viktor held on to hope and humanity. Basi-
cally, the ones that survived didn’t let anything bring them down. Viktor, his pregnant wife and his parents had been separated during their incarceration, he believed for sure he would not see his parents again. The Nazi’s didn’t have “use” for people who could not work or produce, so he believed they would be killed. His wife was forced to have an abortion and eventually they
were also separated. In his book, he tells us of his hope that he would soon see her again. He explains that one morning, on a harsh winter day the prisoners were forced to get up for work. He describes the morning as icy, windy and a deep snow already on the ground. Most of the prisoners had not eaten more than a small piece of bread, most did not have coats or shoes. But they were still forced into slave labor. As they were walking, a man that was walking next to him says, “I hope our wives are doing better than us”! That made Viktor think of his own wife, it even made him smile. He started to notice the “little” things around him, like the sun rising and starting to warm his face. Remember, he was walking in below zero temperatures, with no coat, but he still allowed himself to remember his wife, he felt her love and warmth, he imagined being with her after the war was over and they were free again. He held on to hope, and he choose to be free in that moment. Why does he share these experiences with us? To teach us, through all situations, through all our suffering, through all experiences, we grow and learn. We have the free17
dom to choose that. He says no matter what the guards were doing, pushing them, hitting them with the butt of their rifles, he would not let go of the hope that he would see his with again. He realized they could not take everything from him, and he was still free. Keeping this attitude during the worst of times, helped him to survive.
As Viktor goes on to write he speaks about holding on to his thoughts, feelings, and memories. So why is this important? Viktor believed a lot of times in life we only look at partial truths, or we half-step through our lives. We sometimes forget to see the big or whole picture. But Viktor believed if we look at everything that goes on around us and pay
attention to what we think in our heads and what our spirit tells us we will understand the meaning of what we are going through. He believed in order to be healthy humanâ€™s this is a must. Viktor called this step the â€œWill to Meaningâ€?. We look for and find a learning experience in everything. Once we can believe that there is meaning and a learning experience for us, what do we do with it? Viktor had an answer for this question too! He believes once we find the reason why we are going through a phase in our life, we have the freedom to choose what we do with the learning experience. He believed the freedom to choose is one of the only rights we have as hu18
man beings and nobody or nothing can take that away from us. He is quoted as saying; “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, to choose one’s own
way.” Our attitude toward what we are going through will help us grow and become healthy, happy, and balanced. Of course, this only holds true if we don’t give into our situation, or let it define who we are as people. Viktor had faith that there was good and bad in everyone. He saw it first hand in the concentra19
tion camps, he believed there is only two races of people, “good people and bad people” and we have the freedom to choose which one we become. Viktor is also very clear about the fact that with freedom comes responsibility. We have the responsibility to the best people we can be, we are responsible for the energy we put out in the community, in society and a responsibility to ourselves. Viktor states that we are not just products of our environment, or genes, but fully capable humans who have the ability to make decisions for ourselves instead of giving in to our surroundings. When we understand that we have the freedom to break the chains that hold us down, we can begin to make a change, grow, and find the meaning in our experiences. We start feeling good about who we are, we find a learning op-
portunity in everything and every person that touches our life.
ktor also understood there are times in our life when we feel so “caught up” in our situation we can’t see a
way out. He also said there can be times when we feel there is no point to our life, we may feel as if we don’t have goals, or a purpose, we may feel empty, worthless and bored with our life. Viktor called this the (existential) vacuum. In other words we can get “sucked” into our emptiness and boredom. So like a vacuum, we draw in other things to fill the hole we believe is in our life. We attempt to fill this space in our heart and spirit with things 20
that give us some sense of satisfaction. Maybe for some of us itâ€™s drugs, money, food, or sex, it could also be anger, greed or even power. We look for things outside of ourselves to help us feel better. What we may not realize is we are getting deeper and deeper into the vacuum of negativity. We are moving further from finding meaning and fulfilling our responsibilities in life. We move further away from who we are. Additionally, Viktor real-
ized when we remove the things that hold us down, we may start to struggle. We sometimes don’t know where to turn or how to make our lives better or different. When you take away the things that gave you comfort, whether they were good or bad, we leave a hole. Viktor understood this is the time when the hard work begins.
e question now becomes what do we do to pull ourselves out of this vacuum? Well, we challenge
ourselves. We must step back and listen to what our heart, mind and spirit is telling us. We redefine our beliefs, look at our values and figure out what is best for us. We focus our energy on positivity, we create meaning through being the best person we can be. We start creating positivity through “good works”. If we can’t find meaning in our spirit, if we are not sure what our purpose is, we create it. It might be something as simple as smiling at someone, saying hi, helping another person have a better day. We begin to open our mind to learning from every experience. We can look back to the hardest time in our life and figure out what we learned from it. Everyone can create meaning. “Meaning of the Moment”, is another belief Viktor had. He believed we are capable of finding meaning in every moment of every day. All we have to do is open our minds and pay atten22
tion. When we can accomplish this, we begin to value not just the “big” things in life, but everything in life. We will start to change our values, what once seemed important (drugs, money, power) may not seem important anymore. We start to discover what is important to our lives. We begin to value and be good to ourselves. Our attitude changes, we may no longer be angry or feel so hurt about the different things we have been through, we start to understand we have learned from the suffering we have been through. “Suffering without meaning is not heroic. It is masochistic!” Shortly after his father Gabriel died of pulmonary edema and pneumonia at Theresienstadt, Frankl and his wife Tilly were
transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then on to Kaufering, where he spent five months, near death, working as a slave laborer. His final month of incarceration was spent in Türkheim, where he worked as a physician under horrific conditions until the camp was liberated by American soldiers on April 27, 1945. Frankl's mother Elsa and brother Walter died at Auschwitz. His wife was moved to Bergen-Belsen, where she died. 23
After the War Liberated after three horrific years in concentration camps, one of Viktor's most moving realizations regarded the reaction of the inmates to their liberation, which was very sad but provided fertile ground for the success of his Logotherapeutic principles. During the period of readjustment to society, in which they all grad-
ually returned to their worlds, they were so numb that they were unable to understand what freedom meant, or to emotionally respond to it. Many of them could not comprehend pleasure and felt their freedom was only an illusion or a dream that would be taken away from them. The reality of the freedom they had dreamed about for years was all surreal, unable to be grasped, and so they became very dysfunctional. One common thing they all had was bitterness and disillusionment. They universally felt the world reacted with "superficiality and lack of feeling...so disgusting that one finally felt like creeping into a hole and neither hearing nor seeing human beings any more". Worse was disillusionment, which was the discovery that
suffering does not end, that the longed-for happiness will not come. This was the experience of those, who like Frankl, returned home to discover that no one awaited them. The hope that had sustained them throughout their time in the concentration camp was now gone. Frankl cites this experience as the 24
most difficult to overcome but one the easiest to solve with the use of his Logotherapy principles. Frankl's meaning in life, from that liberation point on, became dedicated to helping others find theirs. So Frankl returned to Vienna, where he developed and lectured about his unique approach to psychological healing which had evolved during his incarceration. Frankl believed, and now had proven during his concentration camp experiences, that people are primarily driven by a "striving to find meaning in one's life," and that it is this sense of meaning that enables people to overcome painful experiences up to and including unavoidable suffering.
ter enduring the suffering in these camps, Frankl validated his hallmark conclusion that even in the most
absurd, painful, and dehumanized situation, life has potential meaning and that even suffering can be meaningful. This conclusion serves as the foundation for his Logotherapy, which Frankl had developed before World War II and his incarceration. He is quoted as saying, "What is to give light must endure burning." 25
Frankl attributed his survival during the war years to his awareness of the topics written in the book he had written prior to his incarceration, The Doctor and the Soul, which he published as his first book almost at the same time that he published his prison camp memoirs entitled Man’s Search For Meaning. Although he had done his best to reconstruct his discarded manuscript from memory, and it has served to give him purpose and meaning while incarcerated, a copy of the original manuscript was located and used for printing upon his return. A second copy of the manuscript that he had left behind with a colleague has never been found.
ktor countered the image of him as portrayed in the
American media, that he discovered these ideas while
he was in the concentration camps. Instead, said Frankl, discovering his Logotherapeutic ideas prior to his arrest and detainment helped him overcome the simultaneous crises of sustained dehumanization and losing everything dear to him. Viktor’s ideas are broken down simply in the meaning triangle If we look at Viktor’s idea’s in this way, we can understand how simple it really is, we see that we can change our attitude toward any situation, we learn through every experience in our life, and through our experiences we can create balance in our lives. We can look at these ideas as opportunities to complete our mis26
sion in life. How we use the opportunity is up to us. We are now able to re-think our lives, and work toward becoming healthy, happy and wise!
Key Takeaways to Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” 1. Prisoners entering the concentration camps experienced three phases of reaction. First, they were in denial, then they developed apathy, and after release they experienced depersonalization and a gradual return to normal life. 2. Even when people in difficult circumstances appear to have no options available, they retain the freedom to choose how they will respond to their suffering.
3. In the concentration camps, the prisoners who felt their lives and suffering held meaning yet to be fulfilled were less likely to commit suicide. 4. The motivation for all humankind exists in finding the meaning of their lives rather than in seeking the most power or most pleasure possible. 5. When someone fails to find meaning in their life, or the meaning they found turns out to be insufficient, they can experience an existential frustration or what looks like depression. It may appear to be a mental disease, but it is the result of attitude. 6. Meaning in a person's life can come from one, or more, of three places. Someone can choose to either make something of importance, experience something or develop a relationship that is unique, or respond with dignity to unavoidable suffering. 7. Love is a prominent motivation for many individuals, and it preserved many people in the concentration camps. Forgetting themselves in consideration of others is an organic remedy for hyperintention which is at the root of many anxieties. 8. Tragic optimism is the attitude most beneficial to anyone facing the “Tragic Triad” struggles of pain, guilt, and death. Optimism allows that person to take responsibility for their response to suffering and look at experiences positively. This is based on the principle that life 28
is meaningful under any circumstance and the human capacity to make the best of any given situation by creatively turning negative aspects into positive and constructive ones. Optimism including the Triad of hope, faith, and love could be used to face tragedy by: (1) turning suffering into a human achievement and accomplishment; (2) deriving from guilt the opportunity to change oneself for the better; and (3) deriving from life's transitoriness an incentive to take â€œresponsible action". Frankl insists that optimism cannot be commanded; one needs to discover a reason for optimism, a meaning.
9. No one knows what will happen in the course of one's life. Life is wonderful, but challenging and uncertain. We do not know how much time we have, yet we often do not spend our time wisely. We speak of "killing" time, as if we have moments that we do not need. Often we are caught up in the details, the small concerns, things that do not matter when considering the larger perspective. We often spend our time and energy, our precious resources, worrying about things that do not happen. We often doubt ourselves and the decisions we make. We look forward to experiences we may have in the future, oblivious to the wonder of present moments (and often we miss out on those future moments when they do occur, as we are still thinking of other things). Such mindfulness to one's surroundings, to one's thoughts and perceptions, is critically important and something to be valued in and of itself. Simply put, mindfulness is a way to be present in one's life. Given we often spend precious resources worrying about the future, trying to make the uncertain, certain, the unknown, known, it is easy to forget that the uncertainty of life is a beautiful thing, something to be embraced. Uncertainty makes life all the more interesting. Uncertainty is an antidote that fosters intrigue, enhancing what would otherwise be a predictable (and potentially boring) life. We do not know what will happen, but life has a way of unfolding as it should, despite our most insistent intentions. 29
Summary of Logotherapy (Beyond the book) Truths That Viktor Tried to Teach Us (NOTE: We believe that an internal locus of control is essential to grasping these principals and activating their power (A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while someone with an external locus of control inappropriately blames outside forces for everything, which is maladaptive and leads to great unfulfillment). We are embarking on a psychospiritual path with these methods.
On the Meaning of Life There are two types of us: Those who say YES to life no matter how many difficulties they have, and those who say NO in spite of good things happening to them. Which one are you deciding to be? Ultimate Meaning is like the sun on the horizon, we walk towards it but can never arrive BUT because of it we believe that we are constant striving to be alive and uncovering our many purposes and meaning because we are a part of the big plan. Without this idea of Ultimate Meaning, life is chaos and we are victims of its whims. Meaning of the Moment is how we handle all the unique experiences of our life, each with its own Meaning of the Moment. By “seeing” these, and saying YES to them (and to life) we can act creatively, we can experience something that life has to gift us (good or bad), and we have the ability to change our attitudes even in hopeless situations that are full of unavoidable suffering. Suicide makes it impossible for us to grow and mature as a result of our suffering and it violates the rules of the game of life: “We are not required to ‘win’, but only to never give up the fight!” A suicide person braves death but flunks life and makes it impossible to ever make up for the suffering that he or she may have inflicted on someone else. 30
“Our Meaning of Life is not to be questioned, but responded to, for we are responsible to our meaning”, not the other way around. Therefore we must uncover, or discover it, not ponder the simple process by allowing our wayward brains to create complexity around it. On the Meaning of Death Death is a part of life, to be accepted because it cannot be avoided. It gives us a deadline, otherwise we could postpone every action forever. It is the “harvest time” when all of our good acts, the fruits of our lives, are taken to the granaries: where no deed, experience, or attitude is lost, but where our intangible life achievements of giving and love are stored for all time. It should be our friend, our conscience, by which we measure ourselves daily to make sure that we are “right with the world” in case we lose our precious gift of life unexpectedly. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience, so our passage back to where we come from is actually more “home” to us than here, on this temporal earth. On the Meaning of Suffering Through suffering we “show what we are made of” by manifesting our values. It is where we “walk the talk” of all the toughness we profess. It gives us challenges to show that we can “transcend” or rise above the suffering, including unavoidable and lengthy versions of it, by showing ourselves and our belief in our purpose and meaning in life. Life is short therefore suffering will be short. Human life can be fulfilled not only in creating and enjoying, but also in suffering! 31
A certain amount of “healthy tension” between what is and what ought to be is necessary, so don’t try to eliminate it. Just try to satisfy it because this is what keeps us striving for better, for improvement, for growth, and for paying good deeds forward. This “healthy tension” will always be there because the absence of it indicates entrance into the existential vacuum. Suffering gives us a chance to use our “last of human freedoms the ability to choose one’s attitude even in the face of unavoidable suffering which is an opportunity to turn our suffering into an achievement.” Much of our suffering is unnecessary and caused by our own unrealistic expectations. We expect life to fulfill our hopes but instead it is on our shoulders to respond to what life deals to us so that we can develop our own “spiritual muscle” or inner strength. These are the things we take with us when we leave. On the Meaning of Work The Meaning of Life is not work. It is not the work you do but how you do the work that makes it meaningful. The meaning of work is not to accumulate power or money, but to find satisfaction in using creative ideas, of giving oneself to the community without expecting returns. Therefore if the work is not fulfilling, the cause lies in the individual, not in the work.
Unemployment can lead to apathy, not depression. It gives an excuse to become a victim and blame undesirable life circumstances on it but it is the individual who is choosing to wallow in self-pity while everyone they expound to can clearly see that it is just a poor alibi. Meaning is not derived from work but from one’s contribution to society and it costs nothing to take on a new, positive attitude and volunteer or take up a challenging 32
hobby. Unemployment neurosis is another term for entering into an existential vacuum accompanied by all the symptoms of aimlessness, meaninglessness, and emptiness that affects individuals who have not developed a balanced life. On the Meaning of Love Love provides meaning on a deep and fulfilling level. It erases loneliness as long as co-dependence does not charge in and start making selfish demands due to inappropriately misplaced locus of control. Love is a divine mystery. The physical presence of the loved one disappears with death, but their inner being can never be destroyed, not even in death. The love that was shared remains; it is deposited into the granaries of life as an experience filled with meaning. Love belongs to self-transcendence and spiritual love is much higher than psycho-physical love.
Life ALWAYS has meaning, even if we don’t understand “Why”.
Our search for meaning is our motivation.
We have freedom to choose.
All humans are made up of mind, body and soul.
Listen to your spirit, it is your path.
Regardless of what we go through in life we want to understand why.
Don’t be distracted by things that hold you down or hold you back.
Pay close attention to your ability, creativity, ideas, potential and spirit.
BASIC TENETS OF FRANKLIAN PSYCHOLOGY 1) Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones. 2) Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. 3) We have freedom to find meaning in what we do and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering 4) The human being is seen in Logotherapy as a totality comprised of body (soma), mind (psyche), and spirit (nods). We can neither understand a person nor facilitate healing in his/her life if we disregard the human spirit as a primary reservoir of strength and health. 5) The spirit within us is our core of health containing our will to find meaning, our goal orientation, and our capacities for choice (beyond the instinctual), love (beyond the sexual), imagination, abstract thought, artistic creativity, religious faith, self-discovery, and transcendence. 6) The search for meaning is seen as central to human existence. 7) It is our innermost desire to make sense of our lives in spite of apparent chaos, injustice, suffering, and boredom. 8) We are warned that our pursuit of meaning in life can be thwarted by affluence, hedonism, materialism, and the crumbling of traditional values. These roadblocks to meaning may result in inner emptiness, doubt, frustration, despair, and neurosis. 9) Our attention is refocused toward the human spirit, not in a moralreligious sense, but as a resource of health. 10) It focuses our attention on the quality of our life and on our goals, ideals, and potentials. 11) It also focuses our attention on our ability to take control of our lives. 35
Self-Help Questions We can begin to heal when we start asking ourselves these questions.
What is my biggest problem?
In what way can I be free?
What are my choices?
What choice is most important to me?
Can I set a goal for this choice?
You can answer the following questions to keep moving forward.
Discovery Worksheet What do you want your future to look like?
What do you want to happen in your future?
Name some changes you can make now?
Discover the Values in your Experiences! What experience brought you the most joy?
What would you most want to do?
Are there places or things you would want to see?
Who would you want to meet the most?
Who do you think could teach you something new?
Discover your New Attitude!
How will changing your attitude, change your life, health, happiness?
If things get hard (prison, death, homelessness) do you believe that someone can still stay positive? How about you?
Do you believe you have worth and value?
Do you believe you are a strong person?
Do you think you can stay strong even when you feel helpless or hopeless? If so How? 37
SELF-GUIDE to WILL TO MEANING We can help ourselves by asking ourselves the following questions: 1. What is my problem?
2. Where is my area of freedom? (I am not free from fate, but I am free to choose my response.)
3. What possible choices do I have?
4. Which possible choice is most meaningful? (Only one's conscience can help determine what is best for all concerned.)
5. Which choice will I bring into reality?
We can guide ourselves only from number one through four above, but not with number five. We can help ourselves to regain basic trust for facing our lives by assisting each other in understanding the following truthisms that are also foundational to the core beliefs of Above and Beyond:
I am indestructible. (Basic trust helps us believe we are indestructible. With basic mistrust, one wants so much for the acceptance of others.)
I am basically wanted.
I am awaited. (There are meaningful tasks that await me.)
I am important for the world; I am a co-creator.
I am guided by my conscience. (I am not without orientation. I can get lost, but my conscience is my close friend.)
I am included in an ultimate meaning. (I belong to something higher. I am not quite alone.)
My life is treasured and preserved in the truth and reality of the universe. (The essence of me can never be damaged.)
My achievements are the harvest of my life that cannot be lost.
I do not need feedback from the outside. (The realities of our own life cannot be taken away. We are not dependent upon others to validate our lives, nor our achievements).
I believe that I am unique in the whole universe.
MEANING-CENTERED EXERCISES Exploring Meaning and Purpose How do we stay alive in a meaning-centered world? Everything we do, touch, conceptualize, wish for, want, and have a will for is contained within our personal sense of Meaning. To understand human beings is to be able to sit inside our unique Meanings (seeing things from each of our perspectives). The suffering that we experience is beyond only a physical pain, because suffering is an existential angst, and surfaces when Meaning has been lost or our understanding of the world has been ruptured. We help each other by fostering or illuminating each other's unique Meaning of the Moment. By engaging our spirits, we experience a meaningful life in which our unique essence and presence can thrive once more. What a gift it is to be a part of someone's journey toward Meaning Discovery and meaningful existence, and ultimately, self- transcendence. These exercises explore concepts related to meaning and purpose in life. An in -depth exploration of Logotherapy's concepts of Meaning, the Meaning Triangle (Creativity, Experiences, Attitude), and opportunities to discover Meaning in Life, provides a framework for being able to find meaning in life at any given moment, regardless of the difficult situations or events we may be experiencing. Logotherapy's main premise is that Meaning is always available to be discovered, even amidst life's tragic elements and events. They also examine our personal identity, and how we can move from merely addressing the "doing" components of our identity toward including the "being" components of living. This shift in perspective will allow us to begin living more mindfully and experiencing connection and self-transcendence through meaningful engagement. When we discover our unique meanings of the moment, we often find that life retains a significance and purpose, regardless of the many limitations, difficulties and tragedies we have faced and dealt with in the past or will encounter in the present and future. DURING THIS PERIOD THE THERAPIST/ FACILITATOR WILL: Break this Conceptual Pictograph into 3 sections:
Meaning of the Moment and Ultimate Meaning:
Meaning of the Moment: Can be found and fulfilled; opportunities to act with purposeful living, and to be aware of the meaning possibilities of each moment.
Give examples; have participants give examples.
Ultimate Meaning: Can basically never be attained; like the horizon, we walk toward it, always seeing it in the near distance but never reaching it, until facing our last moments of life. In fact, Viktor Frankl stated that we may not even experience Ultimate Meaning until after death; however, we make decisions in the moment based on our personal conscience that hopefully are consistent with the transcendent values found in Ultimate Meaning.
Give examples; have participants give examples.
The Meaning Triangle and Finding Meaning in Life through Creativity, Experiences, and Attitudes, with Questions on what one experiences through Creativity, Experiences, and Attitudes:
Creativity: What I give to life through my creativity.
What creative gifts have I offered to others through my innate gifts and talents in my work, deeds done, or goals achieved that held meaning for me?
Experiences: What I receive from life through experiences.
What experiences have I received from encountering others in relationships of all kinds, from nature, culture or religion that 42
were deeply meaningful?
Attitudes: The stance I take toward life through my attitude in the face of unavoidable suffering, guilt or death.
What attitudinal values have I realized by taking a stance that was courageous or self-transcending in response to a situation or circumstance beyond my control?
Guideposts to Sources of Meaning- Opportunities and areas to discover meaning in life:
SELF DISCOVERY- Discovering the "Authentic Self" behind any masks or behaviors.
Who Am I: Examining myself today, accepting myself along with my past.
What Do I Want To Become: Exploring possibilities for the future.
CHOICE- Becoming aware of possibilities for change, even in limiting situations and conditions.
Change Situation: Seeing opportunities to choose different options in this situation.
Change Attitude: Exploring new attitudes that are possible in this situation.
UNIQUENESS- Recognizing our personal uniqueness in what we offer to the world through our creativity and in our relationships.
Creativity: Adding my personal creativity to experiences.
Personal Relationships: Experiencing and sharing my uniqueness with others.
RESPONSIBILITY- By responding to situations with the choices we make.
Freedom: The ability to make choices or change our attitude.
Fate: The choice to change our attitude in the face of unalterable 43
or unavoidable situations or events.
SELF-TRANSCENDENCE- Going beyond ourselves in service and commitments toward people we love and causes we believe in.
Toward a Person: Giving of ourselves in relationships with others.
Toward a Cause: Giving of ourselves in the causes that are greater than us (e.g., feeding the homeless, non-profit organizations, volunteer work).
Use each section as a psycho-educational piece or in homework assignments to facilitate orientation toward Meaning.
Ask participants to identify areas in each of the three sections where they have been able to find meaning, as well as where they have struggled; journaling and/or discussing these areas in therapy can be very therapeutic.
In the areas where the participants have struggled, assist them to review the meaning discovered in the struggle, as well as work on finding additional meaning to derive growth and understanding in the present.
Specifically in Guideposts to Sources of Meaning, ask participants to identify where they have found meaning in the past, where they find meaning today, and where they can find or would hope to find meaning and growth in the future; (extensive work can be done in each of the 5 areas).
Have participants draw their own Meaning Triangle, and make a list under each angle-Attitudes, Creativity, and Experiences. Facilitate a discussion about those areas that have been meaningful in the past, and assist in identifying new ways meaning can be discovered in each of these areas.
Ask participants to draw an interactive Meaning Triangle; participants can do this project on any size poster-board, construction paper, or regular size paper, draw a visible Triangle in the center with the labels of Attitudes, Creativity, and Experiences on each angle. Ask participants to insert pictures, cutouts from magazines or books, greeting cards, small mementos or treasures (or pictures of them), sayings, quotes or stories, drawings, and any other meaningful representation of each angle Attitudes, Creativity, and Experiences, around the triangle; or create a collage 44
in which the meaningful representations overlap and together create a visible Triangle. Search for meaningful threads to interweave into discussions and therapy. Ask participants to discuss each meaningful representation. Ask participants to discuss the meaning of the entire project; what they were able to derive from it; and how they can use this information to go forward in life. In group therapy, facilitate a discussion on each of the angles - Attitudes, Creativity, and Experiences and, based on their new found knowledge of each other, ask members to help each other identify possible
Viktor Frankl Quotes
"Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone's task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it." "A man's concern, even his despair, over the worthwhileness of life is an existential distress but by no means a mental disease." "In the past, nothing is irretrievably lost, but rather, on the contrary, everything is irrevocably stored and treasured. To be sure, people tend to see only the stubble fields of transitoriness but overlook and forget the full granaries of the past into which they have brought the harvest of their lives: the deeds done, the loves loved, and last but not least, the sufferings they have gone through with courage and dignity."