According to the Center for Disease control four out ten Americans have not found a satisfying life purpose. Nearly a quarter of Americans feel neutral or don’t have a clear sense of what makes their lives meaningful. An impressive body of health research has demonstrated that having a clear purpose in live increases overall well-being.
Life satisfaction improves mental and physical health enhances self-esteem and resiliency. “It is the very pursuit of happiness that makes people unhappy” according to Frankl. Frankl suggests that life for each of us is a series of decisions across time that greatly influences our happiness and satisfaction. Most of us are making decisions as “takers” and “givers.”
Frankl suggests that the decisions that we make for happiness without meaning result in happiness that is fleeting. These actions are often defined by what we do or get for ourselves while avoiding the complications that life so often injects.
In 1941 Frankl had applied for an American visa and received it. He was free to leave the impending tyranny of the Hitler regime and to possibly save himself, his wife and unborn child. Frankl knew that if he chose to leave his elderly parents they would surely be sent to a death camp and would be their without his support or comfort. Frankl struggled mightily with this decision and in the end he chose to honor his parents by staying.
Though Frankl’s parents and wife perished in the camp, he saved many hundreds of others that would have died without his help. All animals instinctively seek to satisfy themselves and to preserve the life that they have.
Humans set themselves apart from other animals by their ability to sacrifice themselves and their needs for the good of another. While few of us know anything about the horrors that Frankl and his camp mates faced, almost every day we have a chance to make decisions that can make others happy while greatly enriching our own lives with meaning.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net