Finding Meaning

For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day, and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.
— Victor E. Frankl

Victor Frankl was a contemporary of Freud, and in 1924, at Freud’s request, Frankl published his first article in the International Journal of Psychoanalysis.  At nineteen years old, he developed two of his fundamental ideas: First, that we ourselves must answer the question that life asks us about the meaning of our lives, and that we ourselves are responsible for our existence.

Second, the ultimate meaning of life is beyond our comprehension and will remain so. When we open ourselves up to finding meaning in each moment, daily activities and task, our work, our relationships we can begin to enhance the quality of our lives as well as those around us. (Pattakos, 2010)

When we focus on what is meaningful to us, we become engaged and it is easier for us to remain present.  By focusing on what is meaningful, we create a purpose for focusing our attention and becoming mindful.  When we focus on the big picture, rather than remaining buried in our thoughts our emotions, we can see how even most difficult situations have meaning. 

We become able to make decisions that are in alignment with our greatest purpose.  An example of this is that we might respond to someone who makes a mistake by focusing on helping them learn a new skill; a joyful endeavor, rather than internalizing frustration that now something needs to be repaired or done over.  When we choose to live a life that is guided by purpose, even our smallest decisions and interactions can become meaningful and bring more joy to our lives.

Sometimes meaning is right before our eyes, while other times it doesn’t show up until days or even years later. Although we might not be aware of the meaning at that moment, Frankl would say it is present in every moment. (Frankl, 1985)



Frankl, V. E. (1985). Man's search for meaning. Simon and Schuster.

Pattakos, Alex, and Dundon, Elaine (2017). Prisoners of Our Thoughts. Berrett-Koehler Publishers: Oakland, CA.


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